Make it sleek – build success with a digitally managed business
Experience with the franchise sector
In the past few years, our work through our other business, Franchise Simply, has changed a little. The businesses which used to come to us used to be largely owned and managed by older men looking to grow business through franchising. The businesses were mostly service based and traditionally managed. Other than a website there was not an app in sight.
Today the picture is very different, especially post COVID. Businesses coming to us are usually partnerships of one kind or another. And the partners have very different business skills. Invariably one person is the public face, great at communication and sales and the other is the private face, looking after the backend. Please don’t dismiss the backend as merely administration – these businesses would not be where they are at without the careful detailed work required to manage a modern, successful business.
We notice inevitably businesses reaching this level of success have a reasonably good digital business platform and that their digital transformation has accelerated since COVID.
The other thing we notice is that even though the successful businesses coming to us are quite well digitised, apps have just been added as needed with not much thought given to their integration.
So, invariably in their transformation to franchising which requires good, clear systems to connect the franchise outlets with the franchisor administration and support means most must go back to the beginning and modernise what is already a successful modern business to upgrade the existing ad hoc digital platforms. A painful process but one which has amazing results.
What this means for small business in general
The bottom line is, if you are in business today, it’s not going to work without the assistance of a carefully constructed digital platform. Good digitisation will help you save time and usually money, engage with prospects, customers, and staff so much better, and reorganise so you don’t need so many workers in this era of staff shortages.
In a word create a sleeker more profitable business. Something we all want in this era of tightening margins, tricky supply chains, scarce staff, and demanding customers.
So, as you organise your business structure to make your processes and associated operations manuals more successful, it will pay to also organise your digital systems or at least plan the way they will be added in the future.
One way to go about it…
The thing is, it’s become so much more complicated.
IT language is different with some of these differences showing up within different sectors of the IT sector too – marketing/sales technicians seem to use the same words differently from web builders and none of them speak the same language as project managers or bookkeepers and none of their systems seem to talk to each other without other apps to link and that only works sometimes.
Although I have been managing the IT in our businesses, I am not an IT expert and have found I need help to get things up and running so they work for success. So, if you are not an expert, bitter experience has shown me there are a few things to consider.
a. Set your own rules up front. The ones I find most helpful are:
b. Find someone who can help you plan what you do before you start. Make sure you understand what they are talking about and that they understand business. And make sure they don’t just work with one system which they swear will cover everything you need. While single multipurpose systems are beginning to appear, I have not yet come across one which does the job well everywhere.
c. Before you start set up a digital business strategy. Plan your digital business structure so it can be implemented over time. Plan for the actions you need to put in place now along with the things you know you will need for future growth.
d. Make sure your sales and customer service staff are the foundation of all your plans and actions. Just as you did with organising your business structures, organising your digital platforms should focus on and maximise your ability to service your prospective and actual customers. IT people tend to forget that.
e. Keep everything as simple as possible. And keep everything as understandable as possible for future staff and customers. You might be planning digital systems but if people are not the centre it won’t work.
f. Rather than thinking about your digital business systems as app names, think first about the processes your business engages in and select the best apps and their integration from there. You must understand how to deploy the technology and understand how it creates value in your business.
The list will be yours and each point will have its share of subpoints and integration points.
g. Once you have the list and links, select the apps you want to manage your carefully defined business processes. You will find some apps will deal with more than one point then find others which will integrate easily.
h. Choose the first app you want to set up and see if you can get staff trained to implement it and, as appropriate, add each digital system as needed as you grow, and funds become available.
Then make sure everyone documents procedures for each process from that point on…