Franchisors often face a number of challenges when managing various locations — like inconsistencies across branches, lack of visibility or even lack of franchisee retention. However, choosing the right technology for your franchise can not only provide tremendous value to your franchisees, but can also provide the benefit of more streamlined corporate operations.

According to IBISWorld, HVAC franchise revenue is expected to rise at an annualized rate of 2.2 percent over the next five years, reaching $1.0 billion by 2023. In a billion dollar industry, streamlined business practices are essential, and will allow for better customer service, more efficient operations and time savings across the board.

While franchisors were historically concerned with increasing the level of control they had across their branches, they are now looking to see how they can provide value by selecting and arranging the best vendor relationships that empower their franchisees to save them time and money and improve how they service their customers. Franchisors have also started broadening their strategies to not only grow their brand, but to also help identify ways they can assist their franchisees to grow locally.

One of the primary ways a franchisor can provide value for its franchisees is by arming them with a powerful technology system that allows franchisees to spend more time growing and tending to their business, and less time completing administrative tasks. Selecting the right field service solution first starts with understanding the business. It’s about finding the balance in how your company operates today and how you would like it to operate tomorrow. By assessing the operations that drive your business, you can begin to determine where you perform well and the gaps/areas which need improving.

When you boil it down, technology is just another investment in equipment. An investment that should chiefly serve to make work easier, more efficient, and more cost effective. By starting from the ground up, you can begin to eliminate the outside noise and focus on the core objectives that implementing a field service solution should fulfill for your business.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when looking to choose the right technology for your franchisees:

Automate Processes: According to a recent WorkWave survey, almost half of HVAC companies listed improving operations through software as a key business driver for 2019. By automating business processes, companies can not only save time and money that would be otherwise spent performing manual tasks, but they can also focus more on providing an exceptional customer experience.

Ease of Use: Franchise owners can vary greatly in technical expertise, so moving onto a new platform can seem like a daunting task. Whether an IT expert or flip phone user, it is critical that franchisees can easily onboard onto their technology platforms, and also have the resources they need to keep up with the features and functionality quickly and efficiently. It is also important to keep in mind that your technology platforms will ultimately trickle down to the specific technicians, meaning it needs to be easy to train employees on as well.

Flexibility: Finding a solution that impacts the numerous types of franchises that existing within your business is key. From single unit, multi-unit, area developer or a master franchise, many businesses operate differently and have unique challenges. Finding software that is capable of supporting the needs of both large and small businesses is essential.

Scalability: Almost every business is looking to grow and expand, so scalable software is key. Franchisees should have the ability to manage their business of any size, on the same platform without worrying about switching platforms and migrating data once they grow.

Mobile capability: With the majority of HVAC employees located out in the field, finding technology with mobile capability is essential. This will bridge the gap between the office and technicians, allowing for information exchange in real time, especially for any info related to a customer being serviced - like a cancelled appointment or on-site payments. With mobile capability also comes the need for GPS tracking. GPS technology allows for added insight into where your technicians are at all times, manage driver safety and provide insight that allows for increased route optimization. Franchises should also investigate mobile tools that present technicians with options to cross-sell services while on-site with the customer. They are proven to make it easier for techs to upsell, helping HVAC businesses convert more opportunities and increase average ticket sizes.

Community Connectivity: One of the benefits of being a franchisee is that you have the support of other business owners in your circle. Finding a technology solution that will help support the collaboration between multiple franchise locations will help capitalize on the unique value of being a franchisee within the same network. Whether it is syncing up on billing best practices or finding new ways to streamline processes, having the ability to connect various locations can greatly impact the success of franchisees.

With the right tools and knowledge in place, a franchisor can not only help its branches fill in the current technology and business gaps, but also gain the ability to manage multiple locations seamlessly and efficiently.

Publication date: 12/24/2018