If you’re part of an emerging franchise business, chances are, you’re familiar with software and other tech solutions that promise to make life easier for franchising. But aren’t those products built for large enterprises… would they work for a ‘startup’? And does it even make sense to invest in technology at an early stage before you’ve mastered your processes and built a winning team?
You might be surprised how strongly emerging franchises can take advantage of tech solutions from Day 1. But how do you justify making the investments, given limited financial resources? And how do you prioritize where to spend your money and time?
Some investments are obvious or even mandatory – think POS systems for brick and mortar, accounting, and so on. But there are lots of other solutions which may not be so obvious for you as you are starting out. So we talked to some of our smallest customers – and some of our bigger customers who started small – to ask them why they think franchise-specific tech is valuable from Day 1.
Here are the top 3 things we heard to help you approach tech investments early in your franchise growth journey:
1. Don't Wait to be Fully Staffed
When you start your franchise business, limited financial and human assets can be hard to come by. Money is stretched thin, while your staff covers a myriad of positions leaving you to analyze every decision being made and how it affects your brand long term. You can end up seeking to add additional team members, as opposed to investing in new technology, which means the success of those tasks is entirely dependent on the person you hire. Usually, most small businesses invest in new hires until they feel like their team is set up to scale operations - all before tech even crosses their minds.
Investing in new technologies can often feel like a daunting task, but thankfully, the days of needing a full IT staff and personal servers are long gone. For less than the price of a first-time employee, and the time that would be spent getting them acclimated to your business, franchise business owners can invest in technology that is purpose-built for the specific challenges they face – without the risk of the technology leaving you for another job. We often hear from our clients that in the beginning they were running so fast, and so lean, that they felt like they didn’t even have the time to train someone new - all while simultaneously getting new doors up and open. Though it can be tempting to “hire your problems away”, your time, energy, and money are sometimes better spent on tools that are really good at managing specific aspects of your growth.
2. Aggregate and Pool Data for Essential Growth
Not only can technology solutions solve specific business problems, they can also keep information from being siloed with different people within your company. We hear a common refrain from FranConnect customers that they need all their data in one central location. Our brick-and-mortar clients specifically have added complexities when getting their new locations operational and heavily rely on having a single data source to house every detail of what is needed to open a new door from start to finish.
By aggregating your brand’s data, as a business owner you can quickly identify new trends and overall patterns that would not be easily gathered with disparate information. You don’t need to be a “big” company to take advantage of the data you are already collecting. Emerging franchises are often surprised at the amount of data sources they already have in their back pockets. By collecting and tracking data from day one, you can really know how well you’re doing by comparing results to the baselines you established in the beginning.
3. Make Your Franchisees a Partner in Your Tech Investments
The saying goes- “Out of sight, out of mind!” Don’t let this be the case when it comes to you and your franchisees. Using tech outside of traditional social media platforms to connect with your customers is becoming more commonplace as digital solutions become more affordable for small businesses. Maintaining that human connection has become essential to doing successful business. Utilizing tech solutions to create a sense of community through shared experiences can drive the engagement of your franchisees.
Think of your franchisee engagement the same way you think about your brand marketing – you want to look bigger and more professional than you really are. By providing a professional platform for franchisee engagement and collaboration, you can foster more loyalty amongst your franchisees - ultimately leading to better customer experiences and higher royalties. Group discussions, polling, and active push notifications can nurture a connection between franchisors and franchisees and also amongst franchisees – empowering them to “idea share” amongst their peers.
Whether you have an established small business or you are just getting started in franchising, investing in a tech solution that can help drive you to the top is fundamental in building your brand the right way.
So how does FranConnect help? We are the leading technology platform for franchise management including development, operations, marketing, and more.
To find out if FranConnect might be right for your business, schedule a live demo with us!