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Standardization is often the way forward, but even the biggest brands are sometimes falling at this crucial hurdle
There are many advantages that come with having your own business while benefiting from the brand recognition and support that a parent franchise offers. However, the franchise structure often lacks a unified payments system, and the problem only gets worse as technologies advance and new solutions are introduced.
Throughout the last 18 months, we have seen more than ever before the need for such payment systems. The pandemic saw many quick-service restaurants (QSRs), which are very often franchises, adopt a hybrid model of payments acceptance; many of these restaurants were partly fulfilling orders for customers visiting the restaurant in person, and partly via delivery apps or through online orders.
That being said, we are starting to see some franchises, especially larger brands, adopting some degree of standardization in their payments processes. For example, by mandating things like eWallet acceptance: even prior to the pandemic there was an increase in the use of cashier-less terminals in QSRs. Far more common, however, are franchises with a cluster of different payment systems, which are usually put in place by the franchisees and not the parent brand.
Franchisees are therefore tasked with incorporating and installing their preferred plug-and-play solutions. But they’re doing so while delivering a reliable omnichannel approach, making sure that all customer journeys mirror their parent brand, and providing a value-added service to their customers.
Here are a few of the main issues that settling for this approach could bring, and my advice on how franchises could solve them using a more unified approach:
Each franchisee processes their payments as an individual company, rather than being consolidated and processed by a central office as most centralized retailers do. Unfortunately, this means they are facing higher costs per transaction, and even more so if their online and offline payments are processed separately.
Instead, parent brands should take control of payments processing to secure a better price per transaction. By doing so, both parties will benefit from economies of scale. At a time when all businesses have suffered during lockdown, streamlining activities and protecting the bottom line is crucial.
Although some franchises provide their franchisees with payment terminals, point of sale (POS) systems and other vital pieces of technology, many franchisees, especially those that are smaller, are left to source their own.
As a result, they are often left paying full retail prices for payment systems, when it would cost a fraction if the franchise sourced them. It also leaves the individual business open to purchasing low-quality or inadequate goods, and if they were to experience any technical difficulties, they are on their own to solve the problem.
To solve this issue and to simplify an otherwise complicated and timely task for franchisees, it would make sense to set technology at franchise level and standardize this throughout the business.
The franchisee will therefore benefit from economies of scale when implementing new systems. With unified technology in place across the franchise model, franchisees will also benefit from technical support and training, and most importantly, customers can enjoy a better overall experience with the brand.
With so many transactions taking place digitally, franchises must make sure that the customer journey is cohesive; regardless of the channel, they’re accessing the brand and its products or services.
That could be online, offline, or between the different franchise outlets. But no matter how or where they pay, every customer should have an experience that is swift, secure, and in fitting with the franchise’s brand.
To achieve this, implement a brand down omnichannel approach so that any time a customer interacts with a brand they get the same experience. By offering multiple disjointed shopping journeys, customers will know they can’t always pay in the same way, and brand loyalty will not last.
With payment technology spread between multiple providers due to the plug-and-play approach taken by many franchisees, it is often left to the individual outlet to onboard themselves and their employees. However, this can lead to an unequal training experience between staff members, with some employees needing to be re-trained – particularly if they move to a different franchisee location. And this could result in any training they do receive being informal or of a low-quality due to the non-standardized approach.
Advanced partners such as Worldline can offer an online portal to ensure that franchisees can get the equipment and training that they need for themselves and their staff. There are dedicated content, onboarding and reporting tools, and support teams are tasked with making the entire process as smooth as possible.
It should now be clear that the solution to many of these issues involves brands standardizing and centralizing their technology, whether that be the hardware in their stores or the cloud-based software backing it up. Although this could be a costly and difficult process, by choosing the right payment partner, the process will be made far easier.
“At a time when all businesses have suffered during lockdown, streamlining activities and protecting the bottom line is crucial”
Franchises provide a perfect business opportunity to many, providing the freedom and rewards that come with ownership within a structure that has been proven to work. With so many franchisees affected by the pandemic – from being unable to open, to having to adapt operations – as the parent brand, franchises now have the chance to help on their road to recovery by providing them with the best support possible in order to boost profits and strive, once again.
Lee Jones is the managing director Northern Europe, GSV at Worldline, a European leader in the payments and transactional services industry
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