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Franchises have been growing in popularity rapidly over the past few decades. The International Franchise Association’s Franchise Business Economic Outlook for 2020 projected that the number of franchised businesses in the U.S. would increase by 1.5 percent to a total of 785,316 — adding 232,000 jobs a year to reach a total of 8.6 million employees across the industry.
The consistent expansion is unsurprising given that franchises combine the desire many people have to be entrepreneurial with the ability to skip some of the more cumbersome aspects of setting up a business fully from scratch. With a franchise, much of the work regarding the brand and business processes have already been done, and it is more or less a plug-and-play system.
That’s not to say that starting and running a franchise doesn’t take a lot of work, however, because it does. Each store, restaurant or any other business type will have its unique challenges that the owner must overcome to turn a profit, which is why resources like the Entrepreneur Franchise Explorer portal exist to help entrepreneurs evaluate different options, decide which ones will suit them best, set them up and optimize their operations.
Thankfully, there have been several innovations, many enabled by technology, that allow franchise owners to boost efficiency and improve their bottom line.
Marketing and customer-relations management
Although franchises receive the brand equity of the franchisor as part of the franchise package, they do not automatically receive any customers. Each franchise business must optimize its marketing and customer-relationship-management processes to grow its customer base, grow the customers’ loyalty to the business and increase their spending over time. Thankfully, businesses can now use automated marketing software to optimize their presences on social media and other communication channels like email and SMS marketing, helping them acquire more customers.
Keeping customer relationships alive and well is also crucial, and new CRM software has a myriad of features that help businesses stay in touch with customers and keep their brands top of mind, ensuring that customers remain satisfied and even encouraging them to share their satisfaction with others, thus increasing the business’s customer base. For example, using AI programs, businesses can now segment their customers and design targeted loyalty programs to increase sales.
Managing the franchise
Managing a franchise network can be challenging without proper tools. Entrepreneurs start with a great franchise idea and create FDD (Franchise Disclosure Document) and start recruiting franchisees. That’s a great way to start, but to build a successful franchise, entrepreneurs need a platform to grow with. Using Google docs to share, excel sheets for managing leads, videos to train and email to communicate with franchisees is not the best way to build a scalable, long-lasting franchise network.
Entrepreneurs should consider an all-in-one franchise management platform such as BrandWide or FranConnect for recruiting new franchisees, store opening, training and onboarding, and for passing on standard sales, marketing, call-script and agreement templates to the franchisees. In addition, a franchise-management platform will provide ways to create sales, marketing and operation processes and make sure the franchisees are complying with these processes.
All-in-one franchise-management software has been a blessing for the franchise industry. With real-time 360-degree visibility of your franchise business, it helps reduce the time and cost of managing your entire franchise network while increasing the level of engagement and performance.
From the very first day of starting a franchise business, the quality of the staff will be a crucial determinant of how successful the business will be. Hiring the right staff and making sure they are working in the most efficient manner possible has typically been the preserve of HR teams working with limited data. That has often lead to errors as a result of the HR personnel acting primarily based on “feel.”
Nowadays, it is possible to compile comprehensive information on all aspects of the company’s operations, and on each individual’s performance, and then to apply data analysis to generate detailed appraisals of employees, making it easier to make staffing decisions. Many software solutions will even screen resumes and make recommendations for applicants to be interviewed based on pre-determined criteria. This allows franchise businesses to spend less on HR and free up the staff in that department to focus on helping employees optimize their performance.
Whether it’s a restaurant, coffee shop, home-cleaning, dog-training, home-remodeling or an online-education franchise, the key to business success is to increase profit per customer. Increasing operation efficiency through automation, reducing cancellations, increasing repeat business and reducing marketing costs are a few ways to achieve greater profitability.
Selecting a good technology platform is as important as hiring good employees. Additionally, implementing the technology is as important as training the employees in your business. However, only selecting a technology platform is not enough: Entrepreneurs must find a good tech partner for ongoing support and scaling up as their franchise grows.