Technology has always been a huge part of our lives for decades now; from pagers to high speed internet, it’s been changing our lives and how we work.
Technology has always been a huge part of our lives for decades now; from pagers to high speed internet, it’s been changing our lives and how we work. What the pandemic introduced is the idea that tech provides a means for us to carry on as normal as possible even in the most challenging of times. Whether it’s in a personal sense such as shopping and checking in with friends, or in a professional environment to remain in contact with employees and process orders virtually, it’s been imperative to, dare I say it, our survival. Now, being thrust into the post-lockdown world, getting to grips with this concept is going to prove vital for the future.
First of all, lets address how it’s going to change the way customers operate. Almost overnight, customer demand shifted from discretionary items to those perceived as essentials. What we also saw was how many of us turned to doing things virtually and, going forward, it’s these same considerations that will remain key as disposable income returns. How can you ensure that you are reaching your customers once again? Perhaps the only option is to utilise technology and, as a minimum, meet them as they browse the internet.
Next up, let’s reflect on our own businesses. In the time of remote working and Zoom calls, technology was the intricate network of cogs that allowed businesses to remain functional. For those with the ability to work from home and remain ‘open’, there was an urgent need to bring in extra programs, processes and procedures to ensure a seamless transition into the ‘new normal’.
But what does that mean now? Will remote working continue for your team? If so, how can you ensure employees are still feeling supported and part of the team, as well as being truly productive? Maybe lockdown surprised you and your team became more productive – in which case, will you look at ways to strike the balance between office and home working for the remainder of 2020 and beyond? Hold discussions with your employees to get their opinions and discover the most effective way of moving forward – having the right technology in place to accommodate your team’s demands will make life easier in the long run.
Finally, what impact has the pandemic had on the franchising industry? Hindsight has always been a wonderful thing, but prospective franchisees now have yet another differentiator as they search for their perfect fit. For savvy entrepreneurs, what once was possibly a passing thought regarding the innovations a brand would provide as part of their ongoing investment, could now be at the top of their checklist. As a franchisor, it’s for you to decide how much emphasis you’ll put on ensuring your brand stays at the top of that list. But how do I do that, I hear you ask…
Make sure you share the stories behind your tech advancements in your marketing, including case studies and news stories. What systems did your existing network have available to them to keep their business running during lockdown and what impact did these have on their business? These are just some of the aspects that prospects will be looking at during their usual due diligence process.
You should use technology to your advantage when it comes to reaching your audience, as well as adapting your business. Reach prospective franchisees whilst their travel is still restricted. Utilise your case studies, new stories and videos for engaging social media posts to catch prospects’ attention. Prospective franchisees have always had thorough research processes when shortlisting brands but it’s no surprise to hear that the strike rate is becoming more ruthless - who wouldn’t be even more careful with their investment and future after what 2020 has dealt us?
Although all of that might be true, technology will not replace everything in our lives as we will still require a human element in every business and life in general. Humans are a naturally social bunch; many of us still prefer meeting up in person over a video call. For example, at Tutor Doctor, even after seeing an increase of 120% in demand for online tuition, we still value our in-person sessions as the same quality service. Franchisees have certainly risen to the challenge and are equipped to be flexible with what works best for the student – as we know they can thrive in either environment. As long as any face-to-face interactions are being approached with safety and care, business will resume and you’ll be able to meet the needs and preferences of all your customers.
While many of us are just getting our heads around the latest tech with voice-enabled devices like Alexa in the home and new apps popping up daily to apparently make our lives easier, COVID-19 has forced us to embrace technology a little more wholeheartedly to keep working, educating and communicating.