Technology Gains for Franchise Owners: Online Ordering and Social Media
May 7, 2021 •First Franchise Capital
Cloud computing. Artificial Intelligence. Social Media. Some of these concepts might sound complicated or expensive but being willing to embrace them may increasingly be what separates successful franchise restaurant owners from their struggling neighbors. When used correctly and to their full advantage, these technologies can improve the customer experience and simplify operations.
Online Ordering and Delivery
The pandemic expedited the restaurant industry’s shift toward online ordering and delivery and the numbers show this trend isn’t going away. 60% of Americans order takeout or delivery once a week and 31% percent use a third-party food deliver service at least twice a week. However, 70% of consumers would prefer to order directly from the restaurant rather than use a third-party service. Restaurants who offer online ordering and delivery services can better control the customer experience. If customers have a negative experience with their third-party delivery service, that may also negatively impact their perceptions of the restaurant. Because customers prefer to order directly, offering that solution will encourage customers to order from a restaurant that offers delivery rather than a competitor who doesn’t. By 2024, the online food delivery services is expected to be a $32 billion industry, so franchisees who begin developing that option now will have a leg up on the competition.
If offering online ordering and delivery isn’t a good option, franchisees can make sure their information is correctly updated with the most popular third-party delivery services in the area. The most popular service in one city may not be the most popular in another area, so franchisees that own multiple units will want to adjust accordingly. Maximize your relationship with the delivery services in your area to ensure your customers have the best possible experience from ordering to delivery.
Social media is no longer just a place to share photos and chat with friends. The 2021 global social media advertising spend was $154B, all in an effort to reach the 4.62 billion people using social media around the world. Franchise owners may not have the bandwidth or budget for social media advertising, but social media is one of the easiest ways to communicate with customers. Use social platforms to advertise new items or market specials. Respond to customer reviews (good and bad) to build an online reputation that can impact so many more people besides the traditional in person methods. Start a hashtag and encourage customers to share posts about your franchise with the tag. An online hashtag will spread the word about your franchise much more quickly than word of mouth and is less expensive than major digital ad campaigns.
Cloud Computing and Security
Cloud computing is increasingly popular, but some franchisees may be reluctant to take advantage of all the benefits of cloud computing. For franchisees that own multiple locations, cloud computing synchronizes data for all units even if you are at home. With cloud computing, system and data updates are easier and with the availability of so many security features, you can protect your systems from cyber criminals. Regardless of the system you use, protecting your data is vital. As fast as technology changes, cyber criminals find new ways to hack your data. Hackers are also looking to hack the credit cards of your customers. Having the most up-to-date software will protect your customers and your reputation. If you aren’t sure where to begin, work with a technology expert who understands your business and can help you find technology solution that works for you.
AI Enhanced POS systems
Customers want faster and more accurate service with more options, and POS technology has grown to include functions such as mobile ordering support and more payment options. But enhanced POS systems will do more than streamline processes. With the development of artificial intelligence or AI, advanced POS systems will be able to provide data to target the wants and needs of customers. Think of how well Facebook® knows you and imagine what knowing your own customers that well could do for your bottom line. It’s bigger than “would you like fries with that?” It’s knowing that the customer recently joined a health club and has started an aggressive fitness plan, so you can call attention to healthier options.
Virtual Reality Training
Hiring is only half the problem. Once someone is on the payroll and has the right apparel, you have to train them before they can generate revenue. Training can be disruptive and inconsistent, with negative results showing up weeks later. That’s why some owners are excited at the prospect of interactive virtual reality training for onboarding. Instead of reading a manual or watching a video, new employees wear a headset and step right into realistic simulations that can test their knowledge levels. Virtual reality environments will give new hires opportunity to experience the common scenarios they are likely to encounter, and managers can give feedback on their reactions to situations before they interact with real customers.
While these new technologies could come at a high implementation cost, it may be the ticket to what separates you from your competition and provides incremental sales volume to your stores. Technology is the way of the future, so embracing it when the opportunity makes sense for your operations will be vital.
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