Tech is transforming every industry on the planet. So franchises better make sure they are on top of the latest innovations that will shape their future in 2019
As we look forward to another new year, the world of franchising continues to evolve and develop with increasing pace as franchisors and franchisees across the country continue to look for new ways to grow their business networks while reducing pressure and risk. There have been a number of key developments over the last year and certain trends are starting to take shape as we embark on another 12-month journey of discovery and change.
Looking at the last year in retrospect, the most disruptive event for franchises and many other businesses during 2018 was undoubtedly meeting the compliance criteria of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Many franchisors and franchisees found themselves revisiting a student-like scenario having left most of their homework to the last minute. Then began the battle as hundreds of businesses raced to understand the new legislation, in all its varying shades of grey, before sticking their answer down and hoping for the best.
For franchisees, GDPR created a mixture of fear, confusion and subsequent cost. The need to be absolutely clear on why and how personal data is stored, having a set of compliant processes that ensure customers, or data subjects, have accepted the terms by which you store and use their personal data, threw many businesses into panic.
For larger franchises in particular, the impact of GDPR was a complex unravelling of marketing permissions, databases, registration forms and cookie policies. Having spoken to a number of franchises, the outcome has been generally positive. With more focused mailing lists, better marketing practices, clearer processes for removing customer data and a healthy audit on systems that were in need of an overhaul, many franchises are now operating more efficiently.
The second major development for franchisees has been the volume of businesses moving from cash payments to contactless or online payments. With new tools like contactless debit cards, Apple Pay and Android Pay, consumers are choosing the convenience of making payments on-the-go. Businesses across the country have been adopting contactless systems at point of sale and updating their websites to make online payments as simple as possible – this will only increase over the next year.
In terms of the demands and needs from franchisees, they’re constantly being tasked with demonstrating measurable value for their franchisees. Operationally that means logistics, process and training but more often than not the tension comes from brand and marketing and the addition of new prospects and customers. The challenge for franchisees during 2019 is getting up to speed with the rapid pace and changes from online tools and marketing practices. Franchises are having to adapt to new social networks and algorithms from a technology perspective and franchisors often turn to things like website revamps to demonstrate a positive investment in their brand, when in fact this can absolutely be the wrong place to spend money.
Highly targeted, segmented campaigns are where small and fast-growing franchise businesses are really disrupting the incumbents today. Franchises are also displaying a growing need for more data and insight to influence business decisions. Again, this is often within the marketing and sales funnel.
And all of this is just the beginning. Like it or not, 2019 promises to be another year of change and adjustment for the growing franchise industry. Innovation is becoming increasingly important in an ever-competitive market and franchisors will need to keep taking bigger steps forward to ensure they stay relevant, up to date and as agile as they can. The question is, what key tech trends can we expect to see over the next 12 months?
Well, there are at least five tech trends to prepare for.
(1) Growth of the cashless society
This fast-moving trend shows no signs of stopping. The reality is, cash is becoming more and more unnecessary as fintech continues to take over small and large businesses around the UK, particularly in the case of children’s activity franchises. According to the Bank of England, cash withdrawals continue to drop by 5% each year and by 2026, it’s predicted that cash will only be used by 21% of the population.
(2) Access and subscriptions for the masses
The trend for access over ownership is well and truly established, from the early days of Apple Music and Spotify, to Netflix and Amazon Prime, modern households expect to own a suite of subscriptions as opposed to libraries of goods. This is reaching far into the service sector, with franchised gyms and health clubs continuing to boom and develop in ever-increasing niches. In the world of children’s activities it’s no different. Just like insurance or TV licences, parents often prefer to spread their payments over 12 months to help with their cashflow and budgets.
(3) From photo to video
Alongside the boom in smartphones came a steady decrease in the price of storage and a dramatic increase in the resolution and megapixels on phone cameras. These two developments have led to a world where shooting short video is now many people’s preferred method for capturing memories. With more social media platforms now supporting video and multiple options for free software that can add subtitles, the return of the home video can be an extremely effective marketing tool for franchises wanting to communicate with their audience.
(4) From social channels to private networks
Whilst they remain popular, social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are losing the battle with younger consumers to more closed platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp. Franchise businesses that are targeting these audiences would do well to invest time in these platforms.
(5) Social listening
For franchises wanting to make use of social media for marketing, the term ‘social listening’ is worth researching online. Franchise brands are able to monitor multiple platforms for a variety of terms and phrases to help them discover who is talking about them, where and with whom which can provide valuable insight.
There’s no way to completely safeguard against any eventuality. However, by looking into these trends, your franchise will be a little bit more prepared for what 2019 throws its way.