Technology in Franchising

Introduction

Many franchisors are effectively using information technology (IT) to maximise the sales and profitability of their franchisees. Although most businesses use IT in their day to day business there are specific advantages to increase this use within the communications between franchisee and franchisors. Many franchisors now have complex intranets for their franchisees to access documentation and information required to run their businesses including managing stock and the sales processes. Email is also becoming increasingly popular although most franchisors prefer verbal or in person contact, whenever possible, to increase both loyalty and motivation amongst their franchisees. Another technology that is now being adopted to achieve this is the use of Voice Over IP(VOIP). VOIP allows the franchisee and franchisor to speak using special IP based telephones over the internet. The advantage to both parties is a direct line between them always being available and no call charges at all. The correct use of these systems helps the franchisor get a quick wide view of the overall business performance and increases the communication between franchisee and franchisor.

Expert Review
By Ray Wiltshire from GlobalLink

The fantastic rate of change in technology is creating new opportunities in Franchising. A good example of this can be found in the world of telecoms and discussed here by Ray Wiltshire marketing manager of Globalink Group, a company who sell telecoms solutions to the business sector, through a network of franchises. Already very successful in selling their existing Least Cost Routing, Line Rental and Mobile phone call products, Globalink are now looking to the new opportunities and business benefits offered by broadband, Internet telephony, data transfer and other new communications solutions.

Many potential franchises are wary as they think that any franchise based on new technology means they need to have a degree in engineering and be some kind of technical expert. The reality is that the real skills needed are the ability to sell and account manage. Selling in the business sector is all about being able to develop trust and good working relationships, the franchisor will provide the technical support and expertise needed.
Globalink are convinced that new technology will bring many new franchise business opportunities -Ray explains why this will be the case.

Small to medium size businesses in the UK SMEs now spend more on data, Internet, value add services and mobile services than fixed voice calls and that trend is set to continue as organisations converge their voice and data applications. You have probably heard one of the latest buzz words “VoIP” (Voice over Internet protocol). This will allow free communications between end users who have the right technology in place and more importantly will offer several other benefits over current phone communications.

The growth in businesses using and benefiting from VoIP and other data
services will also depend on the bandwidth and robustness of the broadband services utilised. This will also open up new business opportunities for franchises who can partner with quality service providers.

Lets look at broadband and VoIP in a bit more detail

Benefiting from broadband

Talk to people who have only started using broadband in their business recently and you could be forgiven for thinking that they had stumbled on some kind of business holy grail. Over the past two years, there has been more choice for businesses of high bandwidth, low-contention services, accompanied by pricing and marketing that is more focused on the business market.

Broadband also opens up new marketing possibilities, by offering applications such as data streaming which enable your business to improve the service you offer to your customers and to turn plain old 'brochure' web sites into true channels for e-commerce.

The number of users of broadband is growing exponentially and has exceeded the installed base of ISDN lines. Broadband also puts you in control.

As Internet telephony (VOIP) becomes established and your broadband service is also used to carry your voice traffic, the quality of service will become even more important.

Internet Telephony - Voice over IP (VoIP)

The number of businesses using, or considering using, the Internet for voice traffic is increasing rapidly. Even BT are saying that within the next few years some 75% of all voice traffic will be over the internet.

Voice over IP (VoIP) service will enable our customers to extend voice networks quickly and easily. However, some businesses are nervous of trusting their voice traffic to IP, remembering stories of sub-standard quality and reliability that dogged VoIP in its infancy five or more years ago.

Today the technology is much further developed and offers a way of delivering voice between sites at a low cost - even for smaller organisations. Voice over IP service will offer

  • Even lower call costs for local, national and international calls
  • Free calls between IP connected offices, sites, remote and home workers
  • Savings against ISDN line charges
  • The ability to integrate voice and data over a single network
  • Only one set of cabling needed
  • Options that range from using existing phones to fully hosted feature rich IP phone solutions

These examples give some idea of the business benefits that many companies will want to take advantage of over the next few years. This will refresh what is a huge and mature market, and offer real opportunities to build a valuable franchise business for those who have the foresight and drive to get involved now.

If you would like further information on any of the above technologies please contact us.

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