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January/February 2020

Digital Disruptors

Imagine a world where there’s no guessing if your local hair salon will have time for a walk-in. Or, picture a world where you can sell your home without the presence of a real estate agent, or hire a chauffeur service to drive your car, with you managing the process through a mobile app. This seemingly fictitious world is a reality franchises have made possible, with more and more businesses incorporating technology into their model for success. For an in-depth look at how technology is changing the franchising game, here are three franchises that have embraced the changing landscape and have improved their customer experience in the process.

Driverseat Inc.

Sometimes you want a ride somewhere, but you just don’t want to part with your vehicle. Maybe you need your vehicle with you but want to get some work done on the way to the office or want to drive to a social event but need a designated driver to arrive home safely.

With this in mind, CEO and co-founder Brian Bazely saw a consumer desire for chauffeur services in the comfort of their own vehicle, and the idea for Driverseat was born. Offering both driving services in the customer’s own vehicle as well as Driverseat vehicles, those looking for a ride have options to choose from. Plus, with mobile app integration, the process is as smooth as possible for franchisees, chauffeurs, and the customer.

“Driverseat has invested heavily in technology to make the customer experience outstanding, with little effort by the customer,” explains Bazely. “The Driverseat mobile app is connected to a main dashboard that each franchisee manages, which then electronically connects to each chauffeur’s app. At all times, the three groups are connected so that franchisees have access to every aspect of the business. Customers are able to rate their chauffeurs, pay through the app, and receive real-time updates on the location of their chauffeur.”

By offering live updates on where their chauffeur is, customers can rest assured that their vehicle is in good hands and the franchisee can keep an eye on how the service is going.

“Parents who look to Driverseat to drive their children to school or children who need transportation for their aging parents are confident, as they have access to the chauffeur’s driving habits through our custom Electronic Road Supervision software,” notes Bazely. “We track chauffeurs’ driving habits including turning, braking, acceleration, touching of their phone, and speed.  When you have a local franchise owner hire local chauffeurs and then this level of technology is engaged, the customer’s experience is second to none.”

Driverseat’s unique service is now in more than 400 communities across the country, with a mobile app and sales portal making it easy for franchisees to run their business smoothly from an iPad.

Transportation services are something most people use every day in one way or another, and Driverseat has carved out a place for itself as a disruptor in the industry.

Great Clips

We’ve all been there. You need a haircut but forgot to make an appointment. You’re looking at the time, thinking, “will I be waiting for hours?” You’re nervous that a change in hair stylist will mean a sub-par haircut.

Great Clips has answered the call with tech innovations that make the salon process more streamlined and efficient for both customers and franchisees.

“At Great Clips, we’ve revolutionized the salon game with our Online Check-In, available in our app and on our website. Almost half of Great Clips customers now use Online Check-In – they can see estimated wait times for the closest salons and add their name to the wait list, before they even leave their house,” says Beth Nilssen, director of franchise development for Great Clips, Inc. “This innovative technology makes visiting a Great Clips salon more convenient for customers and makes it easier for franchisees to be successful.”

Understanding how technology can benefit its customers, Great Clips also brings tech right into the salon with Clip Notes. Clip Notes allows stylists to enter notes on customer haircuts that are available to all Great Clips stylists, letting customers get the same haircut every time, in any Great Clips salon.

Nilssen knows technology, when done right, adds a level of convenience for customers. But she notes the importance of user-friendliness. “Technology is crucial for the success of businesses today because customers expect convenience in any industry or sector,” notes Nilssen. “If your website or app is difficult to navigate, or you’re not using technology to connect with customers in new ways, you can miss out on growth opportunities.”

While many shy away from tech, Great Clips has applied it in an area that isn’t well-known for these advancements.

PropertyGuys.com

Isn’t it surprising that no matter how much the world grows and evolves, the real estate model has remained unchanged? That’s the thinking behind PropertyGuys.com, Canada’s largest full-service, private sale network that provides an alternative to the traditional real estate experience.

Eliminating the need for a listing agent, along with the associated commission fees, PropertyGuys.com saw an opportunity to optimize the experience for buyers and sellers, allowing them to take control of their real estate transaction at a fraction of the cost.

Integrating tech has, first and foremost, allowed PropertyGuys.com to enhance their system for managing franchising requests.

“We rely heavily on technology for two main reasons:  First, our CRM allows us to properly manage the volume of leads that come in for franchise requests,” explains Ken LeBlanc, president and co-founder of PropertyGuys.com. “Having a solid tech platform enables us to properly identify and categorize our leads into proper buckets in order to ensure the right person from our team is connected with the right lead at the right time.”

PropertyGuys.com also knows the value in using tech to communicate with a changing consumer base.

“Tech allows us to communicate with our ever-changing customer. It wasn’t that long ago that our customer preferred to communicate by telephone. Today, we offer a wide variety of communication styles, knowing that one size doesn’t fit all.  We communicate in whatever way best serves our customer, which is why we ensure we’re up-to-date on the latest technology.”

Offering a range of packages catering to a customer’s real estate needs, PropertyGuys.com gives its users a breath of fresh air away from what was previously the only way to do real estate. A team of experts is available seven days a week – including experienced local reps and a national support team – to ensure those looking to buy or sell have everything they need without the hassle.

The team at PropertyGuys.com saw an opportunity to use technology to increase efficiency and used it to change the conversation around the real estate game.

Choosing to wait for the next best thing and ignoring a growing demand for technological advancements in the franchises people encounter every day can hinder a business. Franchises like those outlined here are leading the charge, moving toward a more connected, technological, efficient model for business in the 21st century.

But adding in tech isn’t always simple. A recent survey of 200 Canadian business leaders by Wipro Limited, a leading global IT, consulting, and business process services company, found initially businesses will encounter challenges before successfully putting digital transformation efforts into play. That said, their survey also found alignment and communication are key for leaders to be able to leverage new technologies, methods, and processes.

Whether a franchise is looking to optimize their customer experience or streamline things on the back end for new franchisees, the bottom line is when technology works, customers can get more control over the services they need, when they need them. But with any change within a business, especially those related to technology, can come an array of challenges.

Incorporating tech into a franchise is a smart move, when done right. And the profiled franchises? Well, they’ve done it right.


By Erin Bonner

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