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Surviving Technology Change: Identifying Business Needs


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Updating technology is a necessary headache, but navigating this era of intense evolution can be tricky. As is painfully obvious to just about every business owner or franchisee that has taken on a big technology update, the new doodads, gizmos, whatsits and thingamabobs aren’t always a panacea, but following a few steps when making a technology update can at least formalize the process. 

During the 2019 Faegre Baker Daniels Franchise Summit, a panel of franchise leaders discussed their trials, tribulations and tactics for executing technology change right, or at least surviving the change, as Faegre Baker Daniels partner Brian Schnell put it. 

“It affects every one of us and it won’t get easier,” said Schnell, kicking the panel off with a chipper attitude. “Technology change, that’s not a battle you want to win, you just want to survive.” 

The panelists painted a fairly grim picture too: John Adams CEO of Grease Monkey International said he’s working through a dramatic shift away from machines to computers on wheels and everything his service concept needs to do to work on them; Susan Rather, co-owner of Brightstar said she’s trying to put more technology guardrails on the home-care and medical-staffing concept while balancing customer service; and Steve White, president of PuroClean U.S. and COO for the company said working with increasingly sophisticated insurers means getting franchisees to do more and more sophisticated operations as well. 

In short, it’s a headache for everyone across the franchise landscape as stakeholders seek more data, more efficiency, better transparency and all the other benefits of technology, of course without thinking much about the incredible toll of such an update. But between their horror stories, the panelists had a few key tips to survive that next update. 

Identify Your Needs

At PuroClean, White said a big move to a new operating framework started with franchisees and the advisory council. 

“We knew if we just went into a room and said here’s a new solution, we wouldn’t get buy in,” said White. “We only have a few zees on the advisory committee but they talk to everyone.”

So they polled their franchisees, and lo and behold, they didn’t rank well in technology. It was the perfect catalyst to execute the change necessary without making it a mandate and plug in to increasingly complex requirements of big insurers. 

For Adams, he started with the business need and tried to solve for that using technology. That helped the company focus on the few big goals for his technology update. 

“Why do you have it? What are you using it for? I start to think about how do I use not necessarily the technology, but the data that comes to me, how do I use that to help my franchisee be more successful,” said Adams. “Dig into the data and find that one thing that makes a difference in your franchise. It’s easy to say, but it’s hundreds or thousands of hours to find that one thing.” 

He found that thing and in the parlance of the strategy system known as The Four Disciplines or 4DX, turned it into a Wildly Important Goal (WIG). He said franchisees who were able to hit that goal showed 13 to 17 percent sales growth every month, obviously their new tech had to fit that WIG. 

Rational costs are another major need for a technology update. Updates change needs to be affordable and any company hoping to push down a new tech update better make the return on investment make sense. Oftentimes that means tricky negotiations with the parent company. 

White said their new technology provider meant parting ways with a legacy provider, but also lower costs. And to absorb the transition fees, he said the leadership secured enough wind-up time to make balance that out. 

“There are some transition costs, so what we did do is came back and got them to give us the first 90 days for free, and the three months more than covers the transition cost franchisee lay out in the front,” said White. 

Once that new technology is decided upon, it’s time to test, test, test and then comes the rollout. See how these leaders handled that in part two of this topic coming next week.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
 
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
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