For many new franchisors, franchising represents an entirely uncharted business landscape. You may not be able to rely on prior experience or instincts to guide you, because franchising involves a complicated web of relationships that all need to be in tune at the same time. The goal of the Franchise Springboard 2023 event was to gather emerging (and re-emerging) franchisors together and introduce them to industry best practices to help light the way.
For many, a common question is which technology vendors to partner with. It can be a particularly difficult question for franchisors to answer because they must consider how specific vendors or supplier partnerships will affect (and be received by) their diverse network of franchisees. Here are five tips gleaned from the Franchise Springboard event to guide you in choosing the right suppliers or vendor partners:
- Don’t get distracted by shiny new technology, but instead on how it impacts the customer experience. Innovative technologies can appear bright and shiny and full of potential. So, how can you know if they are worth deploying? The best way to determine whether a technology makes sense for your business is to view it within the context of the customer’s experience. Will it create a faster, more efficient point of sale (POS) process? Boost loyalty? Increase digital touchpoints? Such questions help keep the customer at the heart of technology-based decisions.
- Choose systems and platforms you can grow into. Before you decide which technology suits your operations best, ensure that it can expand with your business––or that your business can grow into the features and capabilities it offers. Because franchisees may grow at different rates, they may not be ready to make the switch to a new technology platform or to upgrade to new capabilities all at the same time. That can increase the pain and time associated with a transition. Instead, choose a solution that can scale to meet each franchisee’s unique needs and their individual growth timeline. Providers like Hughes, that are technology innovators and offer a full portfolio of Managed Services and serve enterprises of all types and sizes around the world, may be best able to customize and scale solutions to meet a franchise network’s wide-ranging needs.
- Gather insights and input from franchisees. Franchisees are on the frontlines, interacting daily with customers. Seeking their input––perhaps by forming a Franchise Advisory Council––can enable you to keep abreast of fast changing customer needs, trends and expectations as you make operational decisions. Giving franchisees a voice also helps them feel more vested in the brand’s future and how it evolves over time.
- Conduct reference and background checks. Entering a partnership is a big step, so it’s wise to do your due diligence. As you vet suppliers or vendors, be sure to check their references. Look for potential partners, like Hughes, that have a long and demonstrated history of industry leadership. Don’t simply rely on website testimonials. Talk to their customers to validate they perform in ways you want, need and expect.
- Give your franchisees the option to choose. Because each franchisee is a business owner in their own right, they can be reluctant to accept mandates. When it comes to deploying technology, give them a choice of vetted and approved partners, as well as the ability to choose which solution or tier best meets their needs. Doing so empowers them to make decisions affecting their business and to be accountable for those decisions.
These five tips emphasize the importance of prioritizing the customer experience, choosing adaptable systems, involving franchisees in decision-making, conducting thorough background checks and granting franchisees the autonomy to make technology choices, all of which are essential for successful and harmonious franchisor-franchisee relationships.