Franchise brands are built on ensuring a consistent look and feel; both as applied to the physical appearance of a franchise outlet as well as the appearance and taste of their products. For example, a burger from the Mountain Eagle Spur in Windhoek looks and tastes just like a burger from the Seven Spur in Cape Town. Furthermore, the look and feel of both Spurs' decor is also generally the same.
A franchise brand is comprised of numerous elements that combine to ensure that the consistent customer experience is easy to maintain. Whilst the actual food and recipes are of course key, ambiance, music, service and staff competency are other very important elements. A critical component of franchise management, both at the franchisor as well as franchisee level, is the business IT solution that is relied upon to control and provide business intelligence reports.
Business IT solutions include the ERP, accounting and point-of-sale applications, electronic communications (mostly email) and allied 'always on' internet connectivity.
Whilst these systems are critical both for the franchise head office as well as the franchisee to operate effectively, there are risks associated with connectivity that must be constantly managed and mitigated. Fortunately, highly effective, efficient and affordable cloud-based business IT solutions are pervasive and accessible.
Here's our secret recipe for cloud-based services that your franchise should have in place:
Online, off-site data backup
Point-of-sale (POS) data is the lifeblood of a retail franchise outlet; POS systems enable customer orders that are generated to the relevant place (like the kitchen, grill, soda station etc.), customer billing, trend analysis, royalty calculations, recipe and food stock management and so on.
Online, off-site data backup solutions are completely automated, securely encrypted and guaranteed to be recoverable in the event of any disaster, such as theft, computer failure or fire. Over seven years' experience in assisting franchise operators to ensure that data is safe has proved to us that on-site backup routines cannot be relied upon. Read more about cloud backup here.
Cloud-based 'end point protection'
This category includes:
Anti-spamware, anti-malware and anti-virus
Wherever you have a computing device with access to an internet connection, you need a business IT solution that protects your IT environment from malevolent software infections. Read more here.
Productivity enhancing solutions
Unfettered web access, including access to social media sites, video and music download platforms and the like are the biggest culprits of reduced productivity in the workplace. The last thing that you'd want a customer to experience when they're requiring service is a server who is not attentive because they're busy on Facebook. Effective end point security solutions enable web-filtering policies and restrict productivity-killing web access. Read more here.
Remote support capability
Even with the best laid plans, something will go wrong. If you manage a large franchise group, it's likely that you're going to be required to provide support and fault resolution to multiple outlets daily. With the great cloud-hosted remote support tools that are available, it's no longer necessary to waste hours in traffic, spend thousands of Rands in petrol, vehicle maintenance and toll fees and still have unhappy customers whose expectations cannot be managed.
Remote support enables you to simultaneously support multiple outlets or customers without any delay. Even better, effective cloud-hosted remote support solutions facilitate real, proactive support by alerting you to conditions that could cause system downtime - and thus allowing you to manage these conditions and avoid any downtime.