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Feature Story:

Checking In: Location-Based Applications Have Tremendous Potential For Franchisees »

By Scott Klososky

If you have not yet experimented with applications like FourSquare and Gowalla on your mobile device I suggest you load them and become familiar. I suspect that either, or both, of these companies will soon be acquired by much larger platforms like Facebook, or companies like Google. Either that or they will face competing services from the giants. These services have the potential to completely alter our relationships with retail locations in ways that will swing billions of dollars in revenues.

If you are not familiar with the new use of the vocabulary "check in" let me give you the fast version. With location-based applications like FourSquare you can identify a location (your office or store for example) and then associate a reward for people to check in while they are at this location...

Feature Story:

Is Your Data Secure?: One Misstep Can Hand A Hacker A Master Key To Your Network  »

By David Ellis

In case you haven't heard, franchises hold a place of honor in the world of data thieves. In fact, chains are the favorite target of hackers trying to steal payment card information. The most recent figures from Visa indicate that up to 97 percent of data compromises are suffered by smaller merchants and "specifically franchisees"--particularly those in the restaurant, clothing, sporting goods, and hotel industries.

The reason so many attacks are mounted against franchise operations is simple: a hacker who can penetrate one franchisee's computer systems can frequently infiltrate the entire network with little extra effort. Having this kind of "master key" to a larger enterprise is far more efficient--and lucrative--than trying to attack scores of smaller companies that have fewer cards to pilfer, as well as disparate security systems to break and enter...

Feature Story:

The Human Touch: How To Maintain A Personal Touch In Spite Of Technology »

By John Tschohl

There is no denying the impact technology has had on business. It has allowed companies to market and sell their products and services to customers in every corner of the world, and to do so 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

That technology has a downside, however. In far too many cases, it has replaced real people and become a barrier to customer service. When, for example, was the last time you called a company and a live person answered the telephone? And how many times, after making a purchase via the Internet, have you been unable to locate a telephone number for the company when you have a problem?

The popularity of the Internet clearly shows that consumers appreciate the ability to comparison shop--and make their purchases--at any time of day or night and to do so without having to leave home...

Feature Story:

Embrace Your Online Marketing Channel: YouTube Offers A Great Medium For Your Brand's Message (or Your Competitor's) »

By Lisa Wehr

Being a part of YouTube is no longer something franchise businesses can control. Chances are, you're there, whether you created the content or not.

First, how do you use this channel to your advantage? Second, and more important, how do you ensure consistent, positive branding when you are no longer exclusively in control of the messaging? And third, should you even try?

These are common questions. And while the first two don't come with black-and-white answers, there are proven guidelines to follow to make YouTube a positive and profitable marketing initiative for your business franchise. The answer to the third question, of course, is Yes.

It takes more than television commercials and crazy cat videos...

Feature Story:

Beyond Fundamentals: Technology Is Changing The Way The Game Is Played »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Jim Sullivan keeps an eye on business trends and market shifts. His livelihood depends on it. In fact, the very mission of his organization, Sullivision.com, is to design and deliver operations and leadership training programs for companies - including many franchises. He's worked with brands like McDonald's, Panera Bread, Regis Corp., Jiffy Lube, Applebee's, Domino's, and Dunkin' Brands.

Sullivan has been particularly keyed in on emerging technologies that are changing the way businesses are operating today. We asked his to share some of his current observations and insight into how these trends could shape the way multi-unit franchisees do business in 2011 and beyond. Here's what he told us.

From your perspective, what are the key trends that will affect franchise companies in 2011?
JS: I think the biggest trend will be social media's impact on the way zees and zors market, train, recruit, and even sell...

Feature Story:

The Truth About Social Media »

By Lisa Wehr

Just the facts, ma'am--and how to use them

There are tweets and pokes, posts and check-ins, mayors, fans, friends, and likes. It seems as though every social media network has its own language and users--yet all of them are grouped together as the "shining light" of marketing for the year to come. Well, here's the truth. While social media is now a cornerstone for branding, sales growth, and PR, for multi-unit franchisees to successfully use social media to drive business into stores, you need to get the facts.

Facebook
The Facts: Facebook has more than 400 million active users, 50 percent of whom log in to their account on any given day. More than 45 percent of Facebook's audience is over the age of 26...

Feature Story:

Connecting With Social Media: How To Identify And Target Your Customers Online »

By Lisa Wehr

In April 2010, McDonald's helped cement the realization that if franchises want to continue succeeding in this consumer-driven world, they must get involved in social media.

According to Advertising Age, the hamburger giant ramped up its efforts by naming a director of social media, its first. The new director is tasked with using social media to build the business, manage customer problems, and beef up outreach to their target groups. This is exactly what every franchisee can--and should--be using social media to do.
Today your customers are online. They are connecting with their friends on Facebook, chatting up brands on Twitter, and spending quality time with companies through videos on YouTube. They are writing and reading blogs, listening to and participating in podcasts, and connecting on LinkedIn...

Feature Story:

Getting Started With Social Media: Using Today's Tools To Engage Your Customers »

By Lisa Wehr

Social media is an ingrained part of people's everyday lives. How many people? Well, according to Facebook, there currently are 350 million active users. And by active, Facebook is accounting for those who log on to the site every day. eMarketer anticipates the number of U.S. Twitter users in 2010 to jump to 26 million. That's 15.5 percent of all adults online--and that's huge. What do these digits have to do with growing your multi-unit franchise? Close to everything.

Thanks to "blended search," social media channels now appear in the same list of results as your website. That is, blogs, Facebook pages, maps, videos, Tweets, and more are being indexed by search engines. This is critical to multi-unit franchisees, because when it comes to attracting and retaining customers and driving sales social media should be behind the wheel...

Feature Story:

"Old School" Communication: Cell Phone Texting Builds Customer Traffic »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Considering the wide-ranging abilities of today's smartphones, simple text messaging may seem passé, but it's a basic social media tool that's working wonders for Chris Kramolis' franchise operation. He's been using text messages to build business and compile a database of his customers--and he doesn't see any reason to deviate from something that's working.

Kramolis is an area developer and multi-unit franchisee for Tropical Smoothie Café in Arkansas, where he has 8 locations open, and in Northeast Oklahoma. A couple of years ago he read a magazine article about how some restaurants were using text messages on cell phones to communicate with customers.

"I thought that was a great idea," says the 39-year-old Kramolis, who quickly set up what he calls his "mobile text club"--a relatively simple web-based program he can use to design and arrange promotions to be sent out at his discretion...

Feature Story:

Beyond Customers »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Social media has reached a fevered pitch in most places, but as a marketing tool it has many unique functional features and almost endless possibilities.

Take Brad Culp, a multi-unit operator for Griswold Special Care, a non-medical homecare referral service. He's using social media tools but not to reach his customers.

"Referral sources such as social workers, nurses, and attorneys are very important to me. They are the ones observing the need, the ones I count on to describe the service we can provide our clients in their homes. I discovered that many of these referral sources were on Facebook and Plaxo so I quickly determined I needed to be there too."

Culp says his number-one priority with tools like Facebook and Plaxo is to stay connected with his referral sources...

Feature Story:

Franchise Update Media Group Introduces "Multi-Unit Leadership-in-a-Box" Developed In Partnership With Sullivision.com »

PRESS RELEASE

Interactive, Multimedia Training Resource Offers Money-Back Guarantee
SAN JOSE, Calif., Feb. 3, 2010 - Franchise Update Media Group (FUMG), the leading industry resource for franchise development, introduces "Multi-Unit Leadership-in-a-Box," an off-the-shelf, interactive, and multimedia franchisee training resource, developed in partnership with Sullivision.com. This program is based on three years of research that details the best practices and leadership insight of over 1,000 high-performing franchisees and multi-unit leaders. Customizable for any brand, Multi-Unit Leadership-in-a-Box is a complete leadership class that's instantly ready to teach and guaranteed to boost sales at least 1% in each market.

"This partnership aligns resources from two progressive companies long committed to industry education," said Therese Thilgen, president of FUMG...

Feature Story:

Calling On Facebook »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Cell phones have become big business and the competition in the market can be fierce. Not surprisingly, social media tools are finding a niche in this industry, too. One example is three young entrepreneurs in the Northeast who have found a way to use Facebook and other social media tools to give them a competitive edge.

Tamar Bundy, William Stout, and Jonah Engler operate eight Wireless Zone stores in New England. The progressive young businessmen are using social media to increase customer traffic and get the word out about everything from the latest store promotions and deals to hiring. Each of their stores has its own Facebook page and each store manager is empowered--and encouraged--to use the page.

"Social media has been a great tool for us because we can generate a lot of buzz for very little cost--and that's very important to small business operators," says Bundy...

Feature Story:

How Social Is Your Media?: Social Networking Catches Fire As A Cost-Effective Marketing Tool »

By Kerry Pipes

By now you're most likely familiar with pop culture buzzwords like tweets, friending, and texting. But if you haven't had much firsthand involvement in these activities, chances are you will very soon. These ubiquitous and participatory endeavors are all part of a "social networking" trend that's spreading like wildfire online and, some say, is poised to create a new frontier in 21st century marketing.

Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter offer a quick and easy way to communicate with others online with incredible immediacy. Until recently, however, online social media have been dominated primarily by a younger demographic posting relatively benign musings ("What are you doing today?"). But as the use of these networks grows and the number of people becoming "fans," "friends," and "followers" reaches critical mass, business minds have begun to take notice...

Feature Story:

Facebook Opening »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Tasti D-Lite's coming to Arizona...and Facebook is helping spread the news. Jonathan Kaufman is the area developer and multi-unit franchisee for the state, where he's scheduled to open more than 40 Tasti D-Lite units. But it's his first store opening that has kept him busy this fall and Facebook has been one of his strategic marketing tools.

Kaufman's been right in the middle of a social media campaign to build awareness of his soon-to-open store in Scottsdale. He must be doing something right because he already has more than 500 Facebook "fans" and his first store is not even open yet.

"It's been a great way for me to create excitement and awareness about the brand coming to Arizona," he says, "and at very little or no cost...

Feature Story:

Countering Organized Retail Theft: Reducing Economy-Related "Shrinkage" »

By Rollie Trayte and Gary Widman

The economy hasn't been the only problem wreaking havoc across the nation. Most cities are also reporting a disturbing trend of crime increases that experts tie to rising unemployment and a pattern of thefts called organized retail crime (a.k.a. organized retail theft).

Beyond the convenience store "beer runs" and juvenile candy grabs, prosecutors and retailers alike are feeling the impact of retail theft groups targeting specific merchandise--not for personal use, but for resale through household sales, community swap meets, flea markets, or most commonly, over the Internet through one of the large online auction sites or community resale forums.

The FBI estimates that organized retail theft may hit $30 billion annually...

Feature Story:

Social Gathering »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Social media has exploded onto the franchising - and business - scene with a fury not seen since the early days of the World Wide Web back in the mid-90s. As more and more franchisors and franchisees begin experimenting and utilizing tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, we've decided to report on some unique, progressive, and innovative ways in which they've embraced this technology.

Tasti D-Lite, the Franklin, Tenn.-based franchisor, has been mining the potential of social media for the past year and a half, according to B.J. Emerson, director of information and social technologies.

"As a company, we had no real online engagement with our customers," says Emerson. "Our fans are over-the-top brand evangelists for us, and we discovered many had created their own Facebook groups and were talking about Tasti D-Lite...

Feature Story:

Pull-Down Menu: Web-Based Tool Allows Customized Menu Creation And Data Reporting  »

By Kerry Pipes

What if there were a web-based tool that could help you create and organize your restaurants' menu quickly and accurately--while also collecting important data and ensuring consistent brand delivery?

There is, and companies including Applebee's, California Pizza Kitchen, O'Charley's, Max & Erma's, and Papa Murphy's are now using the technology to create, design and order printed copies of their menus. The tool, MenuNet, is from Trabon Companies, which provides web-to-print restaurant technology and printing solutions.

Papa Murphy's recently deployed MenuNet on an Internet portal to allow its corporate store managers and franchisees to create, design, and order printed copies of their menus. These customized menus can now reflect regional food, pricing, and other optional information, such as nutritional data...



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