Franchising must stay ahead of the game

Franchising must stay ahead of the game

Electioneering in 2019 is sure to take up much focus and energy and while elections come around every 4 years, we often wish we could do without them purely based on the fact that if we had to channel all the election energy and marketing spend into promoting small business we would have a very different economy. So, for the first few months of next year, business owners and consumers’ attention may be elsewhere!

Vera Valasis, Executive Director of the Franchise Association of South Africa believes the influence and impact of technological advances and developments in the way business is being done is going to impact business, and in particular, franchising more and more as time goes by. “While the buzz, as we start a new year is with AI and robotics and how these developments may impact on business in the future, some say it has been happening for years and is nothing new. These developments will have a direct correlation to manpower deployment and scheduling in business as well as stock management, site location, marketing and many other areas of business.”

“More and more brands report a marked increase in online sales and yet generally speaking, commercial property owners seem to ignore the increasing number of empty stores in their malls and continue with business as usual charging exorbitant rents. It is reported that the UK government is considering setting funding aside for the redevelopment of derelict shopping centres into housing – surely those are alarm bells ringing …for us as well?”

We know South Africa follows international trends albeit a bit delayed. Many franchise sectors, in particular in the food sector, are doing brisk online-and-delivery business and a change in strategy in respect of site location is around the corner - could a brand place its distribution network in off-beat site locations or in low traffic areas where the lease and rental profiles are vastly different from a shopping centre location? With the unprecedented surge in the delivery of everything from food to retail sales via on-line sales and apps, it makes perfect business sense and I would guess this will be a fast developing trend.

Businesses in the personal services sectors such as hairdressers, beauty therapists, pet groomers, funeral parlour undertakers, plumbers, electricians and the like could well continue to thrive provided the owners are tech savvy and clients can interact online and have home-based services done in many instances.

Social media is definitely changing the way businesses promote themselves and it has become imperative to promote products and services in such a way that they are ‘Instagram’ friendly. Business owners need to take note of this trend and consider dedicating resources to ensure a steady stream of relevant Instagram/social platform postings through an effective and well-managed on-line communications strategy.

Generations Y and Z have been born with ‘a device in hand’ and these young consumers live their lives online – their every action, decision and emotion are discussed via tech and unless brands mimic this lifestyle and ensure that their brands have an online ‘life’, relevance quickly disappears and brands fall off the ‘being seen and talked about’ online marketing imperative.

There appears to be an App for everything and clients or customers are App driven - it is a trend that’s here to stay and existing businesses need to get on board and adapt their business model to cater for the ongoing changes in social media.

“With FASA celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the franchise sector should look to the challenges facing the industry and make the necessary plans to adapt to our changing world.”

By Vera Valasis, Executive Director of the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA)

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