The Impact of Technology on the Franchise World
Most small to medium-sized business owners understand the power of technology to transform their business. Making the right investments in technology at the right time can radically change the face, nature and character of your business. It can make you and your employees more productive, cut development time, improve customer service, and more.
In doing those things, technology can help to create powerful and long-lasting competitive advantages for your company. The problem? There’s one sphere of the business world that seems to be stuck in the 90’s. The franchise business segment has been almost agonizingly slow to adopt new technologies. The reasons for this are more complex than you might imagine, some of them having to do with the corporation that sets the rules for franchisees and some having to do with the franchise owners themselves.
Oftentimes, franchise owners have limited authority to make revolutionary technology changes because they must abide by corporate guidelines. Some franchise have relatively liberal rules regarding technology and its use in any given franchise, while others are amazingly strict and exacting, not tolerating even marginal deviations from the corporate standard if the franchise owner wishes to continue using the brand name.
Even in cases where no strict corporate policy exists, however, franchise owners are generally reluctant to stray far from established corporate norms and standards. If the company itself is slow to adopt standards that take advantage of changes in technology, then it makes it all but impossible for the franchise owners themselves to do so.
Advantages and Opportunities
Of course, there’s nothing magical about the franchise business that makes technology solutions less effective for them. If anything, if an industry is heavily dominated by franchise brands, then the first company to make technological changes will reap huge rewards, and this has indeed been happening in selected industries. Note the recent report regarding McDonalds losing market share to a variety of fast food competitors, all of whom are adopting things like touch-screen customer ordering, online ordering, digital payment systems and the like.
The potential advantages for franchise owners are enormous. Obviously, the opportunities for technological adoption will be more limited if the company in control of the brand has strict rules regarding technology, but for those companies that don’t, you can easily become like a wolf among the sheep by shaking off the 90s and fully embracing our new digital reality.
Handheld devices, touch screens, 3d printing and the wonderful world of apps have all come together to create a virtually endless stream of opportunities for business owners. There are an almost unlimited number of ways that these technological components can be assembled and used to create powerful, enduring business advantages.
If you’re a franchise owner, will you be one of the bold, visionary leaders who rushes to embrace change, or will you be content to live with the limitations of 90s tech? An enormous opportunity awaits those who are bold enough to take those first, pivotal steps in reshaping the technological landscape of the franchise ecosystem. Will you be among them?