Growing franchises: People and data require cultivation
Today’s digital age has brought about an interesting paradox for companies. While consumers have become increasingly connected, it’s never been more challenging to engage them (common knowledge for any parent with kids 10 and older, by the way). Indeed, as customers migrate seamlessly among smartphones, tablets, and laptops, the ability for a brand to be able to follow them – or better yet, arrive at their destination before they do – optimizes sales opportunities. It’s a critical capability in today’s digital world, and for the growing franchisor or franchisee, it could mean the difference between profit and loss. This is why we offer these top-of-mind tech suggestions that can help propel your brand to the next level.
Cloud-based computing is a cost-effective solution for small- to medium-size businesses that don’t have the budget for a large IT staff or massive IT infrastructure. Software and other services are purchased on an as-needed basis for a monthly fee. Also, a cloud-based business analytics system can automate reporting, thereby eliminating data entry and human errors.
Big data, big deal
Business analytics can help you make sense of the massive amounts of POS or customer data that you collect, which in turn helps refine your loyalty programs and even mobile apps, essential tools for communicating with your customers. Accessing big data in real time is far more powerful than the traditional report style which only reveals what has happened, rather than what will happen. It takes advanced analytics to fully leverage big data insights, but once deployed, those tools can yield a wealth of opportunities, such as the ability to predict, monitor, and even influence customer behavior.
As more businesses migrate from corporate provided digital devices to the BYOD (bring your own device) programs, the relaxation carries with it significant security implications, something that you will need to address when deploying your mobile network.
CollaborateWhether it’s conducting an online teleconference or sharing documents via collaboration tools like Dropbox, the ability to communicate without barriers is becoming less of an option and more of a mandate. In the franchise industry, it’s the ideal way to share information quickly, which can be vital with matters involving matters of public health and safety (FDA recalls, for instance).
Benchmarking your data
To fully exploit the power of data analytics and achieve operational efficiencies, a company must apply benchmarking.
For franchisors and franchisees with just one store, it is fairly straightforward to understand your operating costs. However, as your company grows and you take on additional units, you can lose control of your costs, especially when operations spread across state lines.
Advanced analytics and benchmarking can help growing companies better understand and control their costs while ensuring that they are able to meet customer expectations. It’s not simply a “cut, cut, cut” proposition; rather, operational efficiencies must be balanced against service expectations. You may have extremely efficient operations but if you don’t have sufficient personnel to support your customers, your brand reputation will suffer.
For franchisors, especially those whose network is growing, the ability to provide internal benchmarking using operational and nonrecurring data can be invaluable.