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Feature Story:

Finding The Right Balance With Technology »

By Rick Thompson

Technology can help restaurant franchises reduce operating costs, streamline their operation, build customer loyalty, enhance quality, and create more personalized experiences for customers. But restaurants must carefully weigh the benefits of technology against the potential challenges it can create. An inability to strike the delicate balance of technology and service can impact already thin restaurant profit margins.
Through regular meetings with our restaurant franchise clients, we have an understanding of their technology decision-making process and have learned first-hand what has and has not worked. Following are some of the key learnings and best practices we have gleaned from conversations with our restaurant clients.

Putting Control in Customers' Hands
One emerging trend our clients are taking into consideration is the ability to put more control in their customers' hands, literally...

Feature Story:

A Cry For 'Yelp': Tips For Franchisees »

By Jenna Oltersdorf

Your Yelp page will make or break your business. It's usually the first place a potential customer will go, even before your website, so it's important that it's all buttoned up. The restaurant scene is already competitive, so don't let your Yelp page, something you can (mostly!) control, be the reason customers eat down the street.

Have a complete and accurate page
Make sure you have all of your restaurant's information listed, including hours, the phone number, and address. It's über convenient for customers that are already on your Yelp page looking at reviews. When they decide they want to try your restaurant, they'll love that the phone number and address is listed right there so they can skip the extra step of Googling it...

Feature Story:

Technology And The Multi-Unit Operator »

By Dan Schneider

How often do you conduct business via your cell phone? And when was the last time you took a picture with a traditional camera? Technology has developed so today, that our phone has become our constant companion fulfilling a variety of needs. If you had to guess when the first camera phone was released, would you know? I was surprised too, it was 2002; and it was one of those flip phones. Today, in addition to taking pictures, we can stream live video, and even see the person with whom we are talking, in the moment! The reality check here is that although the introduction of the camera phone was impressive at the time, it was a very small step to introducing a new way to communicate.
Are you reading this on a screen, maybe through your tablet, computer, or phone? If not, how many times over the last week have you received some sort of news or information from an online source...

Feature Story:

Using An SMS Loyalty Program »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Customer loyalty programs are a smart way to cater to your most important customers - the ones who consistently spend their money at your business. Such programs, when used effectively, can also take a customer who didn't used to be loyal to your brand and make it so they shop exclusively with you in order to reap the benefits of savings, promotions, and discounts. SMS (short message service) is the perfect tool for promoting loyalty programs for your brand.
With the world "going mobile" and desktop activities migrating increasingly towards mobile phones, all aspects of marketing have had to adapt. According to research that says 91% of smartphone owners have their device within arm's reach 24/7, you will need to reach your customers on their mobiles...

Feature Story:

Social Media Listening Builds Relationships Between Brands And Customers »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

A new report that examined the overall performance of 100 restaurant brands across social media, looking at more than 740 million restaurant-related posts, has found that the most successful brands are focused on listening to and engaging with customers online and creating some best practices that are applicable for many others. The results are in NetBase's, a social analytics company, first NetBase Restaurant Report.
"It's clear from the NetBase Restaurant Report that companies who listen to their customers - whether it be critical customer service feedback, ideas for new recipes, or excitement over a recent promotion - reap the benefits of real-time feedback and higher quality social interactions, which can ultimately lead to more sales," says Paige Leidig, chief marketing officer at NetBase...

Feature Story:

Safety First: Reassessing Your POS System »

By Tom Epstein

The October 1, 2015 deadline for EMV-capable POS readers has come and gone. And much like Y2K 16 years ago, the world did not end and most POS systems are still working just fine.
As I am writing this, only about 40 percent of credit or debit cards in the marketplace even have the EMV chip on them, a number expected to reach only around 65 percent by the year-end. Banks are dragging their feet on shipping these cards. After all, why would they rush to flood the market with cards that shift the liability from you to them?
In addition, even if a consumer does have an EMV chip on their credit or debit card, about 60 percent of POS terminals are still not enabled to accept them. While we may be seeing EMV-capable terminals installed, the software has not yet been turned on because of programing issues...

Feature Story:

EMV, POS, And The Cloud: Get More Features For Less Cost »

By Tom Epstein

So, you just found out your POS system needs a software and hardware upgrade to support EMV ("smart chip") technology and you missed the October 1st implementation date. For months, your POS vendor has been telling you it was coming, but they continued to push you off with vague information as to when they would be ready for you and your franchise locations. Now they say they're ready, you need to upgrade right away, and it's going to cost a few thousand dollars per location.
Sound familiar? By now you know you surely should have done the upgrades by October 1st. But if you didn't, just as with Y2K, the sky did not fall and the Earth did not stop turning. While you may be happy that you haven't had to spend any money (yet) to upgrade, you're getting more and more worried about being behind in getting the EMV readers...

Feature Story:

Here Comes October 1st: EMV Reader Deadline Looms For Franchisees »

By Tom Epstein

It's October 1, 2015 and a line of hackers is standing outside your store waiting for you to turn on your computer system. Why? So they can steal your customers' credit card data and sell it to the highest bidder, of course.
Okay, it might not be that bad (or at least that literal), but this is a date you can't afford to ignore: it's the deadline for merchants to have EMV-capable devices to read the new, EMV chip-embedded credit and debit cards--or face potentially ruinous consequences in the event of a data breach or hack.
EMV (Europay, Mastercard, and Visa), for years the card format standard in Europe, is now the standard for card issuers here in the U.S. Basically, the long-used magnetic stripe on the back of payment cards is being replaced with a chip that encrypts your data at the point of sale...

Feature Story:

It's Essential To Have A Strong Social Presence »

By Zach Wilson claims, "there are over 2.206 billion active users, a global penetration of 30%." With nearly a third of the world's population interacting on social media platforms, you'll be hard pressed to find a brand that isn't active on social media. Some key reasons a brand would be wise to commit to a strong social presence are:

Brand Recognition
Social media puts you right in front of the consumer's eyes at a fraction of the price of a paid advertisement. Creating social content that speaks in a brand's unique tone and voice goes a long way.

Inbound Traffic
Having a large social following means more consumers are engaging with your promotions. More people seeing these promotions means more people actually visiting your site to get a better feel for your product or service...

Feature Story:

New Chip On The Old Card: October Deadline Looming For EMV Payment Readers »

By Tom Epstein

As you go about your day-to-day routine, you may have noticed some new ways to pay; and if you received a new debit or credit card recently, you also may have noticed the new chip embedded in it.
Grocery stores, coffee shops, pharmacies, and large national chains all seem to be installing new customer-facing devices to enter your credit and debit card information. For instance, you can now insert your card into a slot on the front of one of these new devices and enter a PIN. The device will read the encrypted information on your card's chip and pass that information, along with your PIN, to the card processor for decryption and authentication.
In essence, you are getting a double dose of security, unlike with a traditional swipe card, whose magnetic stripe data is easily read by any swiper in the event a physical card is stolen or lost...

Feature Story:

Multi-Unit Franchisee 'Strategies For Growth' Collection Available »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Multi-unit franchisees who are looking to gain an edge on their competition have a new resource at their disposal. Franchise Update's Franchise Learning Academy has just released its "Strategies For Growth" Collection, a series of 14 video seminars, covering more than 20 hours of programming, and providing access to the insights, experience, and success stories of more than 40 multi-unit and multi-brand franchisees and franchising professionals.
The timely and topical information found on the videos comes straight from many of today's top multi-unit franchisees who have been there, done it, and successfully lived to tell the tale. Their invaluable advice can provide tips and insight for taking your business to the next level. All video seminars were produced at Franchise Update's Annual Multi-Unit Franchising Conferences in 2014 and 2015...

Feature Story:

Is Your POS System Safe?: 5 Critical Questions For Your POS Vendor »

By Brand Barney

While very skilled at installing systems, point-of-sale (POS) vendors often don't understand security basics and likely won't make your security their main priority. Obviously, this can lead to very poor organizational security. After all, your POS system harbors some of the most valuable information at your organization: customer credit card data.
Before hiring someone to set up your POS environment, there are five key questions you should ask. These questions are designed to help you weed out ignorant vendors that don't have your security best interests at heart.

Feature Story:

Cybersecurity Tips For Small Business Operators »

By Darren Guccione

From Target and Home Depot, to Apple's iCloud, Sony, and Anthem, it seems there's a new security breach announced every other week. Polls indicate that 50 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses believe they are immune to targeted cyber-attacks because criminals are more focused on large corporations. The reality is these companies are easy targets because they don't invest in new tools to defend against today's new breed of cyber attacks.  All companies, regardless of their size, are at risk.
Older, traditional security solutions are based on technologies that rely on knowing something about the attack, such as the vulnerability targeted, the malware used, or the reputation of the email sender. These tools may block basic known malware, but they are incapable of identifying today's dynamic, multi-vector, multi-stage attacks...

Feature Story:

Are You Ready?: New PCI Security Rules Will Require Changes »

By Giles Witherspoon-Boyd

Hopefully, you've heard that the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) has changed... again. In November 2013, the PCI Council released PCI DSS version 3.0 and set the compliance deadline for January 2015. With only a few busy months remaining, many businesses (including franchisees) aren't even close to compliance with the new standard.
Why change the standard? Changing technologies often improve business efficiency, but aren't bulletproof to the weaknesses consistently found and exploited by hackers. New security regulations like PCI 3.0 are released to protect new technologies against recent hacking trends.
In my opinion, Requirement 4.1 is the biggest PCI 3.0 change for franchisees. Many franchises and chains use satellite communications to connect locations...

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