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The apps that can make your franchise more productive

Written by Jon Card on Friday, 15 July 2016. Posted in Technology

Low productivity might be an issue for UK plc but tech-savvy franchisors are finding ways to get out of the slump

The apps that can make your franchise more productive

UK productivity, or rather the lack of it, has been getting a lot of attention of late. Government figures show that UK productivity per hour is 18% below the average for G7 nations. Suffice to say, the failure of British businesses to churn out as much as our rivals in other advanced economies puzzles both economists and policymakers alike.

However, many feel that technology provides the perfect solution to Britain’s productivity problem, claiming that businesses don’t need to work harder but smarter. Indeed, research from Salesforce, the cloud-computing company, found that using mobile apps can boost an employee’s productivity by more than 34%. Meanwhile, 90% of respondents said apps had changed their behaviour, with many saying it helped them with multitasking.

Google apps

For franchisors such as Jenny Williams, founder of The Detective Project, which hosts detective-themed parties and workshops for children, using tech is just part and parcel of how they operate. As Williams says, tech is a major driver of productivity in her business. “We use a number of Google apps, which have most definitely improved our productivity,” she explains. “Our business relies on a lot of different content. The ability to share and edit that among franchisees, rather than constantly emailing, makes it much easier and faster.”

Williams says using templates and ensuring there are no compatibility issues is a major timesaver. Her workshops utilise video content but she shares this with franchisees and they then edit it according to their needs. “We also use iMovie, which is a really simple app that helps you create professional looking videos,” she says. “However, you don’t have to start from scratch. You just change a few slides and add a photo to your template, so everyone in my team can use the one I made.”

For Williams, time management and technology go hand in hand, ensuring she can get the most out of the hours in the day. “I personally use online calendars to organise my day and encourage my team to do the same,” she says. Ensuring that all of the company’s franchisees are competent with technology is a key part of their training. “If franchisees need more help, I identify it and offer more training,” she adds.

Williams believes that she will invest in more technology, which will enable the franchise to grow and improve its productivity. “We are currently looking to buy a CRM system and also to automate our payments and bookings,” she says. “This will really make things faster and more productive.”

Mobile

The phenomenal growth in smartphone adoption over the past five years means the majority of us are able to access a wide range of apps, many of which are designed for business purposes. According to tech analysts Statistica, business apps are now the second most popular category, with only games enjoying more downloads.

On the surface, having a mobile workforce that’s armed with the latest business apps might seem a ready-made solution to poor productivity. But, according to Nassar Hussain, managing director for Europe at SOTI, the mobility-management company, businesses need to have systems in place to regulate and manage the use of apps. He says that a central system that controls which apps are being used and monitors staff usage can prevent a device acquiring malware. It will also ensure that employees are getting the most from their devices. “The biggest thing that can affect productivity is if a device is not usable,” he says. “This may be because the device has a problem or because the user is not able to use it properly.”

Cloud

Mobile technology, combined with the cloud, is opening up entirely new ways of operating for businesses. For franchises like Little Kickers, the football franchise, the use of the cloud has enabled rapid international growth. The business, founded in 2002, is operating in 18 countries and has over 240 franchisees. Its chief operating officer Frank Stanschus says staff and franchisees have increased their productivity through a variety of cloud-based technologies, including Google apps, Skype and a company intranet. “We have put a lot of effort into developing one underlying business system infrastructure that meets the needs of all of our franchisees around the world,” says Stanschus.

Like Williams, Stanschus believes cloud technology makes staff more productive as it helps people to work together, share thoughts and avoid mistakes. “All 240 franchisees are connected through this set of applications and it gives us a tremendous wealth of shared experiences,” he says. “One huge advantage is that, as a franchisee, it does not matter if you are in a new territory or in one that has been running for 13 years. All franchisees can interact with each other and share their thoughts and experiences.”is a key part of their training. “If franchisees need more help, I identify it and offer more training,” she adds.

Williams believes that she will invest in more technology, which will enable the franchise to grow and improve its productivity. “We are currently looking to buy a CRM system and also to automate our payments and bookings,” she says. “This will really make things faster and more productive.”

Five productivity-boosting apps for your franchise

1) Slack
Instant messaging and collaboration system Slack comes with a host of bots designed to help organise and manage your franchise.

2) Noteshelf
Noteshelf allows users to make and record ideas on their iPad via freehand notes, diagrams, pictures and scribbles and record, save and send them as necessary.

3) Intercom
Helps businesses convert views into sales and retain customers by enabling ‘chat’. It also synchronises with email and social media platforms.

4) Trello
Collaboration tool Trello makes workflow easier by allowing users to create a series of interactive to-do lists and providing useful management tools.

5) CloudMagic
Email integrator CloudMagic streamlines communications by enabling the aggregation of multiple email addresses from different providers into one place.

About the Author

Jon Card

Jon Card

A writer and journalist specialising in small business and enterprise, Card works as a freelancer for The Guardian and was previously editor of Birmingham Living magazine. He is a proud father of a gorgeous little boy and a big fan of the USA.

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