Business Intelligence Trends Changing the Future of Franchise Operations

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Written by Simon Porri

For the dynamic and entrepreneurially minded individual, the traditional career path can be fraught with frustration. It can cause them to feel that their talents are going to waste and that their employers aren’t allowing them to live up to their full potential. At the same time, however, financing a startup can be extremely cost-prohibitive. With banks and business lenders still gun-shy over a decade after the financial crisis, it can be difficult for nascent entrepreneurs to secure the funding to make their business dreams come true.

This is why the franchise model is so appealing to so many. It gives the entrepreneurially minded complete autonomy while also ensuring that they are trained and supported, as well as giving them a well known and well liked brand to rally behind. Still, if they’re to achieve success in business, franchise owners still need to make strategic decisions powered by business analytics.

The trouble with business intelligence for franchise owners

Business Intelligence (BI) is the integration of strategy and technology to gather business data and convert it into actionable insights which drive the business’ ongoing strategy. And while this is the bread and butter of many business’ operational strategies, it can be a common pain point for franchisors and franchisees alike.

This is because large franchised organisations, by their very nature, have multiple locations, decentralised leadership and multiple tiers of management with each franchisee operating quasi-autonomously. 

Still, in an age of data driven cultures, why should franchises be left out in the cold? 

With new technologies driving major changes in business intelligence, let’s look at some of the ways franchises can benefit from new BI tools and trends…

1. Use SaaS platforms as centralised repositories of business data

As big data, analytics and data management have become a much bigger part of 21st century business, so too have Software as a Service (SaaS) providers. They have raced to create platforms which make it easier for businesses to harness their data. The newest breed of such platforms, however, are perfectly suited to the needs of franchises with decentralised data and management structures.

Not only can they collect data from multiple data points in real time and store it centrally, they can allow franchisors total control over who has access to what data. They make data visualisation for franchisees easier to ensure that they can align the data you collect with their business goals.

Because they use a self-service model, they can be integrated into a variety of different management and business styles and offer the perfect jumping off point for those who need better access to their data and gain actionable insights through data visualisation.

2. Use data storytelling to support franchisees who need it most

While the right software platforms can make it easy for franchisors to harness their data, there’s still the issue of communicating that data in a meaningful way to individual franchisees. Franchisees, after all, want autonomy and independence and may respond negatively to being “nannied” by franchisors, especially when they’re assailed with large volumes of complex data that they haven’t the time or inclination to parse.

That’s where another new BI trend comes in: data storytelling. Data storytelling gives franchisors the ability to share their data findings among individuals or groups of franchisees in an interactive smart file. 

Running a franchise at unit level is hard and it’s often difficult for franchisees to see the wood for the trees when they’re so subsumed in the logistics of running their businesses. Data storytelling allows you to communicate data in a user-friendly and useful way without seeming like you’re micromanaging them or trying to bamboozle them with opaque data.

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3. Use Social Business Intelligence to track the performance of the brand and franchisees

In an era where so much of the conversation between brands and their customers takes place on social media, it stands to reason that one of the most popular BI trends involves mining data from social platforms. 

More and more, consumers are communicating with the brands they use to either make comments about them in a public forum or to post user-generated content like product reviews or blog posts pertaining to the brand.

Essentially, social BI combines the traditional functionalities of Business Intelligence like reporting and scorecard generation to track KPIs with social media monitoring and analytics. If each franchisee manages their own social media presence, this can be extremely useful for franchisors. Not only can it help to monitor the social media impact of the brand overall but it can provide more granular insights into the performance of individual franchisees.

However, communicating this data to individual franchisees can be tricky given their hectic schedules. Which brings us to…

4. Use mobile BI to give busy franchisees quick and easy access to the data that matters 

Franchisees are just like any other business owners. They’re always on the go and their attention is routinely pulled in a dozen different directions at once. But their mobile phone is rarely ever far from their side. For this reason alone, one could argue without hyperbole that mobile BI is the future of Business Intelligence. 

More and more vendors are offering mobile optimised BI platforms to provide quick and easy access to the intelligence that can drive strategic change. And when franchisees have instant access to insights in real time, it allows for much more agile and informed planning so that they can stay nimble and take risks while still being able to access the support they need from franchisors. 

demo of business intelligence software

Teach franchisees how to make their data actionable

The age of big data can be both a springboard and a yoke for businesses. For all the useful insights that can be mined from large volumes of data, not all data is inherently actionable. Indeed, one of the biggest challenges of business intelligence is being able to glean actionable insights from what seems like an overwhelming amount of data.

While BI platforms can take a lot of the legwork out of the equation, it still behoves franchisors to deliver training in how to determine the difference between data and insight. This will help franchisees know which insights are actionable and which are likely to accomplish little other than disrupting business operations with no tangible benefits at the end of it all. Teach them how to identify which KPIs are the most important to them and leverage customer insights to deliver real value and enhance your brand’s standing.

Business intelligence is only going to grow more sophisticated in the 2020s, so franchisors should embrace the latest trends now to add value to their brand and make themselves more appealing to franchisees.

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