Using Technology to Optimise Franchise Operations

Communication and the manner in which we engage with each other has fundamentally changed in our “new normal”. Channels of open communication have been required during the pandemic, and franchisors who stuck their heads in the sand did their franchisees and their brand no favours. E-mail is a necessary evil but it is not always the most effective form of communication – it can be impersonal and important information ends up lost in the grey noise of spam. Franchisees who were flooded with communication from various departments or sources eventually lost interest, or found it difficult to sort through what was critical and what was not, and thus failed to prioritise accordingly. Access to relevant information from a single and reliable source has become essential, not just an advantage.

Performance indicators and accountability are the name of the game. Most franchise businesses have been forced to re-evaluate their operating models and costs. In an effort to plug liquidity issues, expenses have been cut wherever possible. These have unfortunately heavily impacted operational support staff with those who worked in the field taking the brunt of the impact. The net effect is a lower cost to the franchisor but also lower levels of effective support to the franchise network. The reality is that now when the franchisees need support more than ever it is not readily available. In many cases this also means that franchisors are potentially in breach of their franchise contractual agreements relating to providing effective support to their franchise network.

It is at times like these that robust management support systems that aren’t people-intensive are worth their weight in gold. Good quality management support personnel are essential at all times but tools have the ability to expand the span of value-added services.

It is never too late to adopt good practices and implement quality management tools that offer value at multiple levels. Most management systems don’t require dedicated administrators and are almost always managed by existing management structures which means there is a low cost of adoption. Effective Key Performance Indicators are easily measured and managed in well-structured systems.

Digitisation can no longer be avoided and those who were mindful of this before the pandemic were best placed to ride the wave of the disaster. Both internally and with customer facing support systems, business models need to critically evaluate where the opportunities are to use technology to their advantage within the franchise models.

Lindy Barbour
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