When it comes to new technologies, the world can pretty much be divided into two camps: the fanatics and the fearful.
The fanatics are always on the lookout for the next new thing, ready to try the latest gadget, software, or app regardless of whether it makes sense for their business.
The fearful are on the other end of the scale. Resistant to change, solidly committed to their “this is the way we’ve already done things” mantra and assume that adopting new tech will be difficult, expensive, and more hassle than it’s worth.
But smart franchise leaders are neither fanatical or fearful — they are tech curious.
The tech curious lead with their business challenge and look for how the right tech can solve that challenge as opposed to adopting tech for tech’s sake and then trying to make it fit their business.
For a franchise to truly scale and take advantage of the power of this unique business model, there is no choice but to be tech curious. You have to abandon manual, time-consuming, inefficient processes or you will be left behind.
Now is the time to understand where technology is going and how franchises can leverage automation tools, AI, and machine learning to ensure brand consistency, amazing customer experiences, and revenue growth.
So that said, here are a few predictions for the tech curious in all of us:
Proposals and Quoting
We’ll start with our own bias here but this is definitely an area that is ripe for digital transformation and we’ve seen it grow exponentially over the past ten years we’ve been in business.
When we speak with our top B2B franchise customers, many of them say that before using proposal software like Proposify their franchisees were using spreadsheets, paper quotes, and manually delivering them to prospects.
Franchisees were all using different tools to create and send sales documents, it was difficult to edit or update proposals, there were errors and inconsistencies with content, branding, and pricing, and overall there was a lack of visibility into current deals and success rates.
Franchisors had little to no control over what was going out or visibility into what was going on.
Plus, if your competitors are showing up with pieces of paper, whereas your franchisees are sending well-designed, professional documents that they can easily view and sign digitally, how do you think that will form an impression on your buyers?
And that’s where proposal software comes into play.
In addition to brand consistency, when franchisees are using manual methods to sell, it’s impossible to collect data on which ones are your top-performing franchisees organizations and what they are doing differently so you can apply those methods across all units.
Robust, built-for-franchises proposal software is, and will continue, revolutionizing the way B2B franchises automate, manage, scale, and succeed in their sales across every unit, region, and service offering.
The world of digital marketing is ever-changing. Not too long ago, brands relied on the Yellow Pages to market their business. Now that most have moved to optimizing for search engines like Google, and social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, even those platforms need to evolve as AI becomes more prominent.
Let's say you're selling B2B landscaping services. Today you'd have some social media posts and/or run pay-per-click advertising. It’s pretty standard but this style of marketing may become ineffective if people are increasingly relying on AI assistants that are embedded directly into search engines like Google.
What that means is, instead of users typing questions into Google, they are asking their AI assistant to find them answers. We’re already seen this with smart home speakers like Alexa. Look at how often Google will show you the content you’re looking for right on the search results page, without requiring you to click through to the website.
Imagine this taken to the next level, where we need to optimize our content for AI. Perhaps, like Google Ads, eventually, you have to pay to be included in these answers, but that's either way, it’s a drastic shift that's going to happen.
While ChatGPT is cool and can be very helpful in creating content, if you're posting redundant, AI-written content on your blog that’s not ‘humanized’, it's not going to drive any business to you because everybody else is posting the same cookie-cutter content and the whole job of the bot will be to synthesize this and only share what's unique.
This is speculation, we can’t yet foresee all the ways AI will change marketing, but the good news is that the fundamentals don’t change. Franchises will always need to know their core customer, position themselves in a way that resonates, and build a strong brand their customers know, and that’s consistently communicated by their franchisees.
Sales and Customer Experience
Speaking with Jason Kealey, a tech entrepreneur who has served the franchise community for 15 years, he predicts significant changes in how franchises engage with customers. The rise of virtual assistants and AI-driven platforms will likely transform traditional marketing and customer acquisition strategies. Franchises will need to adapt to these changes to remain competitive.
Not too long ago tables at restaurants moved away from paper menus towards cheap touch screens. Even that seems obsolete today with many using QR codes to enable diners to order directly from their phone.
That’s nothing new in and of itself, but in the B2B service world, the same kind of approaches are becoming reality and will rapidly change how they do business.
Imagine a pool and landscaping brand, where the franchisees no longer need to even visit the location to create an estimate or project plan. Instead, the prospect sends them a video of their facility and the franchisee quoting on the business can send back an augmented reality (AR) video of what the pool will look like when it’s finished, with the dimensions scoped out and estimated.
There is going to be a move towards less in-person, which will dramatically save money on travel costs. The challenge in all of this will be to reduce inefficiencies and manual tasks while still keeping the brand human and providing personalized service for a memorable customer experience.
Franchisee Coaches and Consultants
AI in franchising will shine in its ability to automate mundane tasks, allowing franchisee coaches and consultants to focus on more critical, skill-based activities.
Here’s the problem: often franchisees will email their coach to ask a question that’s covered in the SOP manual. Responding to these redundant inquiries from so many franchisees is time-consuming and inefficient.
With EZee Assist, the coach can forward questions like these to the AI bot’s email address and CC the franchisee.
The bot will take that email, scan the question, pair it with an answer from the manual, and email back the franchisee the answer to the question.
This reduces the workload on coaches and streamlines communication. This practical application demonstrates AI's capability to make franchise operations more efficient, freeing up coaches to work on more high-value communications, training, and coaching with their franchisees.
Embracing Change While Staying Grounded
The franchising world is poised for significant transformation, driven by digital technologies while maintaining a strong focus on human relationships. By embracing digital tools for operational efficiency and maintaining a strong community ethos, franchises can thrive in this new era and economy.
The future of franchising, therefore, lies in integrating technology with the timeless values of community and customer-centric service. And making a pledge to be neither fanatic nor fearful but always open and curious.