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Franchise revenue and growth are alive and well, defying dire predictions that the pandemic would kill business growth. According to Statista, more than 760,000 unique franchise locations exist in the United States alone, generating more than $780 billion in economic output and employing 8 million people.
The most popular of these franchise segments are quick-service restaurants, which generate $250 billion, and include brands such as McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King and Wendy’s. Another highly popular segment is business services, which generate over $100 billion.
As a franchise owner, you naturally want to ensure growth continues so that after riding out the current economic climate, your business comes out stronger than ever. This article looks at five of the best software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions to help franchise owners grow, thrive and even achieve an exit event.
Five best SaaS solutions for franchise owners
SaaS solutions are an essential part of every franchise owner’s toolkit and tech stack. Managing a franchise comes with varying degrees of support and software — often provided by the brand owner — to ensure consistency in marketing, messages and promotions.
Being a franchisor combines the benefits of brand recognition with the flexibility of a small business. But, it also faces the same challenges as small businesses, including finding the best SaaS solutions to run a franchise cost-effectively while ensuring profitability and sustained growth.
Let’s take a look at five crucial SaaS categories — such as back-office, social media and listings management — and dive into the details.
1. Back-office management
Back-office management plays a vital role in managing franchises. Owners usually have a team of managers to oversee daily activities. Managers handle day-to-day tasks like managing staff, coordinating the supply chain, purchasing, stocking, and of course, handling customer service customers.
Operationally, an owner needs a top-level view as well as granular data-driven insights to ensure everything runs smoothly, so growth remains on track. Back-office software covers everything from HR to payroll, customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain, finances to accounting and compliance. Numerous back office management software solutions exist to make all of this work, such as Microsoft’s ERP software, Dynamics 365, FinancialForce and TEAM Software.
2. Social media management
Social media plays an indispensable role in generating revenue, online bookings and managing customer service. Especially in consumer-centric (B2C) businesses, franchise owners need the best system or range of systems to leverage organic and online marketing.
As everyone knows, there are numerous software options on the market, such as HootSuite, Buffer and Sprout Social. While these might be suitable for some franchise owners, but they don’t necessarily meet the needs of every franchise operation, particularly those with multiple sites.
3. Email marketing
Email marketing is crucial to the marketing and sales funnel for franchise owners. Unless the brand manages it centrally, franchise owners usually control their customer databases. By providing data with the customer’s consent, you can accumulate a valuable customer database.
Once you’ve got a database, email marketing solutions — such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, HubSpot and numerous others — offer the ability to launch email campaigns. Ignoring this marketing channel is a business killer, so choosing the best fit solution should be a priority.
4. Listings management
Listings management is a software segment that assists franchise owners in realizing online marketing advantages from positive in-store experiences. When customers have a good experience, they leave positive reviews. Even negative reviews, when managed proactively, can generate a positive customer experience. By demonstrating to customers that a business will do everything possible to solve customer service problems and learn from mistakes, new potential customers see the level of dedication a franchise has to customer satisfaction.
Numerous listing management software solutions — such as Yext, Uberall, Semrush, Reputation and Thryv — make it easier for franchise owners to manage online reputations.
5. Head-office management
Similar to back-office management, head-office management software solutions keep operational processes running smoothly. These solutions are particularly beneficial when franchise owners have dozens or hundreds of sites in their portfolio and a team of managers overseeing each geographic area.
Being a franchise owner isn’t easy. But, it is rewarding and can be highly profitable if you pick the right brand, the right location(s) and use the most effective SaaS solutions on the market to drive growth.
What Not to do in Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the best ways to speak directly to your audience. You can build a relationship with them and create loyal customers. It is also a great way to generate traffic to your website, increase leads, and execute large campaigns.
With all of the benefits that your company can gain from email marketing, it’s no wonder that 64% of small businesses engage in email marketing. However, there are still a few important things to keep in mind. In order to be successful, you should avoid these 4 mistakes explained by 97 Switch when preparing an email marketing campaign.
Talk About Yourself
Many companies fall into the trap of only talking about themselves. They assume that since their audience signed up for emails, they want to hear all about the company and the sales. While marketing your products or services is important to do sometimes, your audience is still looking for value.
Failing to foster a relationship with them by being too sales-y will lead to unsubscribers and a loss of potential customers.
Instead, it’s important to give the audience something in return for their loyalty. Exclusive deals and sales codes are appreciated, but they also want to see educational or entertaining content in their inbox.
One way to do this is by creating content such as “you asked, we delivered” or “your questions answered” to show that you care about your customers and the feedback they give you, and it builds trust.
It’s also important to speak your audience’s language. Sometimes, companies get too caught up in trying to sound professional and impressive and end up using jargon that’s hard to understand.
Using more simple ways to get your message across is imperative, as it makes the email easier to consume and thus more valuable.
Email Without a Purpose
While building relationships with your customers is one of the main goals of email marketing, you should keep in mind that they don’t want to hear from your company just for the sake of connecting.
Ensure that you have a clear purpose for each email you send, whether that be to inform, entertain, or motivate.
Being intentional about when to reach out includes sending timely emails. You should respond to relevant industry, company, or world news in a timely manner. Readers would find you reminding them about the last day of a sale important, and that qualifies as a purposeful email.
Part of proceeding with a clear purpose is also including a call to action in your emails. Your readers want to know exactly what you’re asking of them, and making it simple is the best way to get it. Beware of including too many calls to action, as it can be more confusing and seem more selfish than helpful.
Personalization is one of the greatest strengths of email marketing, yet it is often overlooked. Simply including first names in an email makes it sound more personal and builds stronger relationships. This can easily be achieved using an email scheduling tool such as Mailchimp. Again, this is a way to build customer relationships. Research shows that using someone’s name in the subject line increases open rates by 26%. Be that as it may, personalization is more than just plugging in names.
Using an email marketing tool is also an easy way to utilize the segmentation aspect of personalization. By separating your audience into groups, you can categorize what they would each be most interested to hear from you.
It has been shown that segmented campaigns perform better than non-segmented campaigns. An example of this is categorizing your readers as beginners, intermediate, or advanced knowledge of your industry. Based on this category, you can send each segment a different email that would pertain to them more specifically.
Your readers will appreciate that your content is tailored to their needs. Imagine sending a beginner an email that skips over the basics of a process. They would be confused and find it very unhelpful.
Now imagine an expert who is wasting time reading the basics that they know by heart. They would become frustrated and lose interest in finishing the email. These are just two examples of using segmentation to better serve your audience.
Use Poor Subject Lines
Often, people will decide whether to open an email at all based on the subject line alone. A mistake that marketers tend to make is wording the subject in a way that sounds like spam, and thus never gets opened or reaches the audience.
As we mentioned before, it is also helpful to include someone’s name in the subject line. While it might seem like a shot in the dark to form an effective subject, there are a few tips for the best open rates you can achieve.
A good subject line should be short. The ideal length for a subject is 7 words, based on a study conducted by Marketo.
However, you also want to make it interesting so that people are curious and want to know more. This curiosity is enough to encourage people to read the email.
However, you want to avoid click-baiting your readers with interesting subject lines that have nothing to do with the content in the email. Make sure that your subject is also relevant to what you have to say. Otherwise, you will have the opposite effect you’d intended by destroying trust and losing credibility.
Simply sending out random emails is not enough to see results. You have to stick to a schedule that your readers can count on and know when to expect to hear from you in their inbox.
The frequency can vary based on your industry and from business to business, but emailing at least once a month is recommended. The more you email, the more you will be on the top of potential customers’ minds when they need what you offer.
That being said, you shouldn’t always assume more contact is better. If your company emails are flooding their inbox, you can bet that they will either block the sender or unsubscribe from future emails. Finding a balance is key to seeing the best results from your campaigns.
You should also consider the brand voice that you are using to speak to your customers. If your emails all sound like they were written by different people, then it’s hard to gain the brand-strengthening benefits of email marketing. It is also confusing to your audience and makes it harder for them to connect with the company.
A good way to remedy this is to create a company persona, where you give a personality to the company that is sending the emails.
Are you funny and witty, or are you serious and somber? Consider strengthening your branding within the company before communicating it with the world.
You can’t expect to be perfect at email marketing, so don’t get discouraged if you find that you have made these mistakes. There is always room for improvements, and every so often it’s a good idea to evaluate how your email marketing campaigns are going.
Using analytics to track your results and adjusting your strategy will help you grow as you fix any mistakes you might be making.
By taking the time to improve your strategy, you will see the success that can carry across all your marketing efforts.
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