Seen as a threat by some, technology has been described by Entrepreneur magazine as an advantage which “small businesses are benefiting from more than ever”. But “franchising has been slow to adapt”, warns the magazine. We look at franchises which have led the way – and the gains they’ve made as a result.




“Franchising … stands to gain the most from technology”


Tariq Farid, CEO, Edible Arrangements franchise





Franchising is one of the business models that stands to gain the most from cloud computing and other digital solutions, according to Tariq Farid, a tech geek who founded Edible Arrangements in 1999.


Today, with more than 1,200 franchisees in 12 countries around the world, Farid credits much of the franchise’s success to technology such as point-of-sale, sales management and video training systems. Recently, Edible Arrangements developed mobile dispatch apps that will manage at least half of the franchisees’ orders this year.


And now, Farid plans to share his technology secrets with other franchise organisations. But the uptake by those organisations has been frustratingly slow.




“The point of technology is to make life easy so franchisees can focus on growing their business, not running their business.”


Tariq Farid, CEO, Edible Arrangements franchise




“Saying that many franchise systems are stuck in the '90s is being kind,” he says. “I think franchising is an amazing model, but technology is not in the comfort zone of a lot of franchise leaders. They don't understand that the point of technology is to make life easy so franchisees can focus on growing their business, not running their business.”




“What franchisees need is a single end-to-end system … not islands of automation.”



Russell Poole, Managing Director, Pzazz Building and Fix It Building Services




“The problem when I joined Fix It Building Services in 2006 was that there was no single system to meet all our franchisees’ needs.”


So says Russell Poole, Managing Director of Nuovo Group, the Wellington-based umbrella organisation for the Fix It Building Services and Pzazz Building brands. Founded in 2003, Fix It Building Services can lay claim to being New Zealand’s longest-established nationwide building repair and renovation franchise.



“We were committed to technology as a way to streamline a complex business and provide our franchisees with a competitive advantage in the market.”


Russell Poole, Managing Director, Pzazz Building and Fix It Building Services



“But all that was available off-the-shelf were a bunch of different software programmes – pricing, quoting, financial management, marketing and customer relationship management systems – that had quite separate functions but wouldn’t talk to each other.”


After much investigation, the only solution the company could come up with was to develop their own system based on a New Zealand-originated but internationally-recognised cloud computing platform.   


“Developing our own system meant that we were able to integrate all of what I call the ‘islands of automation’ into a single comprehensive solution,” says Poole. “Developing that system in the cloud meant that our franchisees could access it from anywhere – from a building site or even while they’re on holiday in Fiji – without having to download any software at all. And the fact that we as franchisor can also access the system has made it an invaluable real-time franchise management tool.”


Disclosure: No Ordinary franchise consultant Robin La Pere is a director and shareholder in Nuovo Group Limited.





“Accor places digital technology at the service of its guests at every stage of their hotel experience.”



Vivek Badrinath, Deputy CEO, Accor Hotels




Recognising technology as an important differentiator in a fast-changing industry, the world’s leading hotel operator in 2014 launched an ambitious transformation aimed at making it the global leader in “digital hospitality”.


With 3,600 hotels, 40% or nearly 1,500 of them operated under franchise, Accor believes that its “new digital ambition” will allow the group to:


  • expand its operational excellence throughout the entire industry value chain

  • understand its customers and better anticipate their expectations

  • dramatically improve its entire customer experience

  • increase its customer database and develop further loyalty


How will Accor do this?


By involving customers, employees and partners – including franchisees – in its digital strategy. The company’s “Mobile First” strategy acknowledges that more and more customers are using mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to book their hotel accommodation and manage their stays. “Customer Centric” will optimise Accor’s databases to provide personalised services and followup, while “Seamless Journey” will make the whole customer experience easier with electronic payment solutions and one-click booking.








“Accor is involving customers, employees and partners - including franchisees - in its digital strategy.


Vivek Badrinath, Deputy CEO, Accor Hotels






Meanwhile, “Employee Friendly” will provide staff with tablets and smartphones to make it easier for them to deliver better, faster service, and “Owner & Franchise Centric” will provide the real-time information required to make dynamic on-the-spot pricing and revenue management solutions.



When you’re shifting 60,000 parcels a day around New Zealand, you’ve got to have a whole lot of machinery to make sure you don’t lose it.”


Jason Windhager, Executive Director, Fastway Couriers



With operations in New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and South Africa, Fastway Couriers is one of New Zealand’s franchising success stories. As internet sales boom around the world, the company has targeted online retailers as their primary target market, and has set itself the challenge of leveraging technology to grow their share of that market.


“We've got some customers who, literally, they just didn't exist three or four years ago and they're now significant clients and all online retailing," said Executive Director Jason Windhager in a New Zealand Herald article. “E-commerce has significantly changed the supply chain, making it longer and thinner.”


When you’re shifting 60,000 parcels a day around New Zealand in the back of almost 300 vans, you’ve got to have “a whole lot of machinery to make sure you don’t lose it”, Windhager explained.


Fastway’s investment in that “machinery” has included real-time online parcel track and trace, multiple parcel tracking, automatic label printing, a freight calculator that allows the customers of  their online retail customers to automatically calculate the shipping costs of their purchases, and GPS navigation to make sure the company’s courier franchisees really do find the fast way to their destination.





Is technology helping you power your franchise to a brighter future?

 


Robin La Pere, Director, No Ordinary Franchise Consultants






If not, you may be losing out.


A Boston Consulting Group study of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) found the 25 per cent of businesses that use mobile services most intensively have revenues that grow up to twice as fast as their peers and create jobs up to eight times faster.


The writing is on the wall.


At No Ordinary Franchise Consultants, we’re not a technology company. So how can we help you determine the best way to leverage technology to improve your competitive advantage?


Simply by understanding franchising and talking your language. We’ve seen the difference that technology has made in our and many of our clients’ businesses. Because we’re specialists in franchising strategy, innovation and operations, we can offer pragmatic, real-world advice on how technology can work for you – not the other way round.









Article by Robin La Pere, No Ordinary Business and Franchise Consultants

Contact me at robin@noordinary.co.nz.





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Robin La Pere of No Ordinary Consultants has been working with disruptive new business models and innovative technology since Apple burst into the market with its unique personal computers. He was at the forefront of major new movements in the retail, financial, construction and franchise industries and works with established businesses as well as start-ups on creating and renewing business models and improving franchise performance.