Starbucks. Pizza Hut. Popeye’s. Big brands are attracting your customers’ attention, making it difficult for your local franchise to gain dominant market share. Franchising depends heavily on consumers’ loyalty to established brands, so the expansion and survival of your franchise is under threat.
How can you gain a competitive edge? “Technological innovation is the differentiator here,” says Abigail Makhubele, business development manager – all sectors, Absa Business Banking. “Tech savvy brands that understand their target market and adapt their offering to suit the local consumer can gain an advantage.”
Here are three ways to leverage tech innovation in your franchise and pose some healthy competition:
1Increase payment convenience
Convenience, next to quality, is king. No one wants to stand in a long queue to pay for their items, only to be told you’re only accepting cash or your speed point machine continually declines their first attempt at purchasing from you.
“Tap and go functionality and payments is only one small example of ways that pioneering businesses are incorporating technology into their offerings, and ultimately making the lives of their customers easier,” notes Makhubele.
Consider the edge over the store next door when you enable quicker payment methods using NFC and scanning capabilities such as SnapScan. Your customers may be shopping the traditional way, but they’d still like modern convenience and a shorter shopping trip.
2Automate your processes
Imagine operating a grill that adjusts pressure during cooking to churn out ten pieces of chicken in minutes. Today, quick service restaurants are beginning to adopt back-of-house smart automation in with a wave of new equipment.
“Burgers don’t need to be flipped, neither does chicken and nor do light switches,” reports Franchise Times. “New automatic grills can form burger patties; no smashing required.”
You may not be able to afford a USD50 000 machine to cook your food, but front-of-house automation is a start. Screens or devices informing your customer’s order is ready instead of staff shouting out a number while they stand in a queue checking every five minutes if their food is ready, is a start.
3Close the gap and strengthen relations through personalisation
When your regulars can’t walk into your store or drive up to your drive-thru window, they still want to be able to say “the usual please” – even from their computer of phone screen at home.
“Personalised product experiences are hugely important for small businesses, as they’re known for their personal touch with customers,” notes Alex Chriss, chief product officer, Small Business Group at Intuit.
Wynand Smit, CEO at INOVO, emphasises the importance of customer individuality: “Our customers are heavily focused on being recognised as individuals – both socially and when they engage with businesses – yet we are often so focused on efficiency that we have almost lost our ability to understand and interact with our customers in a more human, personal way.”
That’s where apps come in. Every time a specific customer logs in, their previous purchases are given as first option, saving them the effort of going through your app to find their usual meal.