Key Web Development Concerns for Franchisors

Franchisors face an interesting dilemma when it comes to web development. They need to create a unified corporate presence with consistent branding in order to grow and provide full value to their franchisees. At the same time, they need to be flexible enough for franchisees to meet the unique market demands of their locations. These are the biggest web development concerns for franchisors in 2018.

Decide how to handle franchisee web development

Deciding how customer-facing sites will be set up is the first step in a web development strategy. There are two main options: Multi-tenancy: Set up one corporate environment where each franchisee can build and manage their own local page within the site. A centralized web presence keeps branding consistent and is highly effective at driving traffic. It allows for advertising campaigns to be more easily managed by corporate headquarters. This structure requires a tiered access Content Management System (CMS). Individual franchisees should have access to data for their own location while corporate facilitators need data oversight (but not necessarily creative control) to all stores within their districts. Because of the complexity, consolidated web presences can have a higher price point and more training demands. Franchisors also need to leave room for their franchisees to creatively respond to local market pressures without allowing them to affect corporate-level aspects like branding. Standalone Corporate site: The main site services only corporate-owned locations and campaigns. While there may be a store directory or links to franchisee sites, there’s no central structure for franchisees to build pages onto the corporate site. This is a less popular but also much less resource-intensive web development option. Franchisees have total freedom to build their own pages, but there’s an ominous amount of room for inconsistency and damaging campaigns by rogue franchisees. Corporate leadership will need to monitor these sites closely to avoid PR issues.

Prioritize responsive and mobile-friendly design

40% of mobile searches have local intent. Nearly 90% of people who search for a type of local business or product use that data to make a purchase or visit within a day. When companies send mobile offers, they’re redeemed 10 times more often than print coupons. In short, mobile is where the potential customers are. To drive traffic to franchisees, it needs to be a core focus of a franchisor’s digital strategy. SEO is the most pressing concern. Google sensibly prioritizes mobile-friendly pages for mobile searches, and most visitors won’t scroll past the top five results. 90% never check the second page. Optimizing for mobile helps franchisees rank high in those all-important local searches. Responsive design should be used to help the site look good across devices. More than half of adults shifts across more than one device a day, and one in five use a computer and a mobile device simultaneously. A bad experience on either can sour their perception of the whole company. If possible, deploy an app that franchisees can use. Mobile apps provide superior performance in uncertain signal environments. They consistently outperform traditional mobile pages in terms of loading speed, creating a higher quality customer experience. That’s one reason the average time in apps increased 69% from 2016 to 2017.

Connect franchisees with each other

The best chances for collective success lie in franchisees helping each other. No matter how helpful corporate tries to be, franchisees are in a unique position to offer each other support. They can find solutions to franchisee-unique problems, share or solicit advice, and spot opportunities for growth that others may have missed. Plus, interaction helps franchisees become socially invested in the company. Richer franchisee satisfaction leads to better performance and higher success rates, which sells more franchises. This isn’t news to most franchisors, who try to solve the problem with In-person company networking events. Those are fun, but in day to day operations it’s the constant online presence and accumulation of advice that will deliver real value to franchisees. Make space on the corporate site for peer-to-peer forums and messaging.

Leverage social media

Social media is an easy way for franchisees to connect with local audiences without disrupting corporate image. It provides a channel of communication between customers and individual locations that feels fresh, personal, and responsive. Plan for social media integration when designing an app or web page. Offer location-based connection and incentives for linking social media accounts. Loyalty programs are one popular option. As a side benefit, social media integration offers a wealth of data for corporate marketing purposes.

Final thoughts

While it doesn’t directly involve franchisees, any business who has them (or plans to) should make scalability a priority in web development. Trying to expand a rigid infrastructure results in poor performance, damaging a company’s reputation and potentially costing franchise sales. Consult with an experienced software developer to make sure adding franchisees won’t disrupt the central business.  

Are you struggling to incorporate franchisees into your website? Could a franchisee app add value to your business? Concepta offers free consultations to evaluate your digital franchisor operations and highlight potential opportunities. Schedule yours today!

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