Top Tips for Leveraging Technology to Innovate a Traditional Business Model

vas_maniatis_-_seva_beauty.jpgTechnology has become increasingly important to businesses large and small, but may not always come to mind for those in the more traditional, service-related beauty industry.

Here are several things you'll want to consider in leveraging technology to innovate what could otherwise potentially become a dated business model:

1)     Technology flattens everything, use it to your operational advantage

Referring to the globalization theme in the 2005 book by Thomas Friedman, "The World is Flat" analyzes the many ways in which technology has made the world of commerce a level-playing field. Our brand’s focus on technology was what allowed our seamless relocation to Puerto Rico, even in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane. Adhering to our Core Focuses of People, Process, Content and Tools, we were able to use technology to easily integrate our operations overseas and even utilize highly-skilled team members over 13 hours away. At Seva Beauty, new technologies like video conferencing, virtual evaluations and eLearning, for example, are constantly being tested and successfully implemented.

2)     Stay ahead of the training game with technology

Video conferencing is the "now" and Google Glass may be the "future" of training. Even in the very hands-on beauty business, this technology has proven to be a key differentiator in keeping the front-line people on our team equipped with the latest in company processes and industry best practices.

3)     Keep your customers engaged with technology

One of our Core Focuses is on “People,” and we have been able to engage our customers with technology that allows them to experience the progressive nature of Seva Beauty. We use a self-service, iPad-based check-in to engage customers right from the start of their in-store experience. Not only does it make check-in a breeze, but it also keeps front-line staff, known as "beauty gurus," from having to interrupt a service. Customers can also choose to share information with us for follow-up visits. This elevates the post-store experience by allowing us an opportunity to connect our core audience with the product and promotional information that’s most important to them.

4)    Make your technology multi-functional

Our in-store POS system not only manages the check-in process for customers, but that same custom-designed POS system also manages customer information, important employee data and an array of options for financial reporting and analysis. Seva Beauty Studios, are also equipped with remote web-viewing capabilities. This way, franchisees are able to see what’s happening in their store at all times and from any device.

5)     Make technology work harder for you

In a world of social media and ever-evolving online platforms, one constant is your website. Keep it updated, clean and easy to navigate. For Seva Beauty, our mantra is “Beauty to the People,” so we take delivering information about our services and locations seriously, and we make it easy to access on all devices. On our website, studio locations are easy to find with maps and locators; the menu of services is purposefully kept simple; franchise investment and job opportunities have dedicated tabs; and we offer an option for visitors to leave their email address to receive special offers – all ways we are intentional in making technology work hard for the brand.

We also create individual websites and social media pages for each of our Studios. We employ SEO platforms that help drive customers through online engagement, and we are constantly running different social programs that increase the reach of our Studios' social media pages for a 360-degree,technology-driven marketing approach.

6)    Work with like-minded individuals

One of the things we look for in a new franchisee is proficiency with technology. We have worked diligently over the years to create a variety of online portals that are available for their use. Our online hiring portal is one of the most widely-used in our system. The hiring portal helps manage one of the most critical components of a beauty-based business - the hiring process! From posting an ad through hiring a new employee, our franchisees can utilize this platform to stay organized and efficient. Another popular portal is the Seva Beauty ordering portal, which helps franchisees shop for all of their approved supplies in one place and provides for true one stop shop convenience. Meanwhile, our Marketing Portal provides franchisees free promotional materials and the ability to order additional marketing items for their Studio with just one click. All portals are accessible through the in-Studio iPad or any other online device.

7)   Communicate through Technology

Our online operations manual makes the days of printing and sending manuals obsolete. It also ensures that franchisees always have the most updated information. Every month we publish a digital newsletter and hold virtual webinars that recap company events, recognize franchisee successes and provide important updates for the system. Using technology to stay in touch with our system seems obvious, but requires the right process and the best tools to make it work seamlessly! 

Vas Maniatis is the Founder of Seva Beauty. From pioneering Chicago’s largest rental-finding agency to the fast-growing Seva Beauty fast casual spa that delivers “Beauty to the People,” Vas has keen insights on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating and growing a franchise.

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