Franchise Update Magazine Issue II, 2013 - Page 70

Grow Market Lead International By William Edwards World Wide Growth Technology eases the path to international expansion T echnology is critical today to finding, signing, starting up, and growing your international franchise network. Technology can also save a U.S. franchisor money, help grow international units faster, and help preserve your brand across the world. Today, your international franchisees may be in time zones 12-plus hours—a full half-day— away from you. If you master franchise your brand outside the U.S., the most important thing to remember is that your international masters are both franchisees and franchisors. The really good news is that, thanks to the Internet, most U.S. franchisors already have many technology tools developed and in place that are directly applicable to international development. This helps lower the cost of international development, training, support, and brand control. 1) Your intranet. U.S. franchises are almost forced to have good intranet resources to compete in the domestic marketplace. Your intranet provides franchisees with the latest manuals, operating systems, marketing, training, and best practices for your franchise. It is available 24/7/365. This 68 Franchiseupdate Iss u e II, 2 0 1 3 is the most cost-effective and focused tool a franchisor has to provide information to international franchises and to focus them on only what the franchisor wants them to use. Your intranet is one of the most important tools international franchisees pay for. In addition to being able to post documents on your intranet for franchises around the world to view and download, services such as DropBox, Box, and YouSendIt allow a franchisor to cost-effectively, quickly, and securely share information around the world without time zone constraints. Perhaps he biggest benefit of the franchisor intranet is online training that is accessible to the international franchises and their employees. Video training programs can be dubbed in different languages or simplified so that images convey the standards required to conduct the franchise business properly. 2) POS and web-based franchise management systems. Increasingly, franchise POS systems are web-based. This allows (or requires) the international franchisee to use systems that provide a franchisor almost instant access to the daily operations of a store, restaurant, or office. Deviations from the standard revenue, expense, and operating parameters are seen in the home country and can be quickly corrected by phone calls or emails. Many U.S. franchisors have taken this to a higher level by running their local unit businesses through comprehensive web-based management systems. Inventory is often part of this system. Reporting is key across many financial and operational factors. These are all tools that help grow international units faster and better. While some interfacing and localization is often required, the local franchisee must conform to the U.S. franchisor’s standards to maintain their franchise and to realize the margins possible. The emergence of detailed dashboard systems in the U.S. that keep track of many financial and operational parameters at the unit franchise level has given a key tool to both franchisor and franchisees. Franchisors can see the “real time” activity of unit franchisees on a global basis. One of the most important aspects of webbased management and reporting is the elimination of the local international franchisee saying their country’s business standards do not allow them to report often and consistently. 3) Development. The emergence of web-based CRM and lead management systems in the U.S. has provided another global tool for fran-