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How to take your franchise into the digital era

Written by Chris Aston on Tuesday, 21 May 2019. Posted in Analysis

Adapting to the digital world of today will ensure the franchising success of tomorrow

How to take your franchise into the digital era

When is the right time to push the button on a full-scale brand transformation project? Do you wait until market pressures force you to react or do you take a more forward-thinking approach to revitalise your brand ahead of the sea change? At Auditel, we chose the latter. Why? Because it’s the only way for even well-established brands to secure their position as pioneers and leaders in a transformed business landscape.

Digital transformation is the fourth industrial revolution. It’s quite literally the way of the world now and isn’t something any brand can ignore. Digitisation is impacting every element of every business. If you disagree, you’re not looking in the right places. For those operating in any market, not just the B2B space, it’s no longer about ensuring future solutions are like-for-like. It’s about understanding the requirements of the future: technology, sustainability and longevity are intrinsically linked. For our franchisees at Auditel, this means identifying which suppliers are offering greatly enhanced digital platforms as solutions so our clients can make a step-change in their business. 

Savvy franchisors should be working to anticipate and embrace changes in their own industry and the wider business landscape. Those that do are future-proofing not just their own businesses but those of their franchisees and clients as well.

But it’s not too late for other brands to transform. In fact, it’s essential if they’re to survive. I would encourage prospects to ensure questions around a franchisor’s digital strategy – and we’re not talking social media here – form an important part of their due diligence process.  

The challenges faced during any brand evolution – be it rebranding, introducing a new product or services or redefining service offerings and client relationships – is keeping everyone happy. In my experience, happy franchisees are those with franchisors delivering the right level of support and leadership. Franchisees tend to be delivering the solution of the day and the franchisor’s job is to make sure that product or service has longevity. By doing that, they're protecting the model and the businesses of all franchisees. 

Of course, some franchisees are always reluctant to embrace change – and there’s a serious potential barrier from those who are reluctant to do so. As franchisors, we’re increasingly welcoming millennials into the network. People who’ve grown up with technology at their fingertips and inherently recognise the need for technological integrations, both internally and externally, in our models. The bottom line is, existing franchisees will be left behind if they don’t adapt.

That’s where communication becomes the most powerful tool in a franchisor’s arsenal. It’s vital to remember that alongside the R&D and the go-to-market strategy, marketing is so important because you’re then trying to articulate your new vision. This means aiming to educate franchisees in new terminology, how they promote and talk about those new products and services. Sales and marketing have to quickly follow the innovation and be effectively communicated throughout the business.

It’s a mistake to think an established brand enjoys a privileged position. All organisations are at risk of a competitor innovating quicker than they do or new entrants coming into the market with advanced offerings. Managed well, innovation and evolution can reinvigorate even the most established of brands. 

About the Author

Chris Aston

Chris Aston

Chris Aston is the marketing director at Auditel UK

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