As developers try to woo you into buying their gadgets, gizmos and apps for your franchise, Tony Bowman of etyres warns franchisors about costly investments
Technology is transforming businesses. Developers and innovators promise that their gadgets and gizmos are set to streamline your infrastructure, reduce your admin and rocket your company into the stratosphere. The truth is many of their products will do anything but. Picking the right tech for your franchise is therefore an important task which requires some careful considerations.
It’s a given that the franchisor must remain ever-watchful for new ways to improve systems and processes in the business. Examples of this include the tablets we all now scribble on with our finger when a courier delivers us a package and the intelligent POS systems that enable retailers to instantly track sales and stock movements at the checkout. While these systems can generate huge wins in terms of speed and efficiency, it’s equally important for the franchisor to know what new technology not to embrace.
Franchisees as a species are highly entrepreneurial and passionate about their businesses. Just like the franchisor, they’ll be keeping their eyes open for new ways to latch on to developing technologies and sales opportunities, yet as a result they can easily wander into areas that aren’t relevant to the core business. The result can be loss of focus on the sales or service proposition of the franchised business. The best way I can find to describe this phenomenon is to paraphrase Steve Jobs who famously stated that one of his most important roles at Apple was deciding which new areas not to become involved in.
Over the years I’ve seen many businesses become over-engineered and bogged down with unnecessarily complicated systems that don’t add anything to the customer experience or profitability.
A great example of this is the development of an app for the business. At the moment Apple has over two million apps on offer in its App Store. Some of these are obviously great assets to the businesses concerned. However, many represent an awful lot of wasted time and money. An easyJet or Ryanair app is very useful for frequent flyers but can the same be said for all of the business apps out there? Almost certainly not. And all those apps that didn’t fulfil the hopes and dreams of their developers cost a lot of time and money and resulted in a large amount of disillusionment.
Rapidly advancing technology offers a myriad of opportunities for this problem to flourish and it's very easy to be seduced by the latest new trend. A competent franchisor will know what to adopt but, even more importantly, what to avoid.