6 essentials for owning your franchise's digital platform
By: Mark Michael, Co-Founder & CEO of DevHub
A wise entrepreneur once said that comfort is the enemy of success… his name? Me - Mark Michael, Co-Founder of DevHub. When we became a franchise supplier, we did so for a specific reason: there’s a big problem in the franchising industry today.
Your digital presence has never been more important, and franchises have many core sites and pages: corporate, franchise development, franchisee location sites, a location finder, and localized landing pages. So why are so many of these being run by the same agencies doing paid search (SEM), advanced SEO, content marketing, reputation management, and so on?
Your website is the heart of your digital marketing, and we believe you should own every part of it. Here are 6 steps to get you started and keep in mind as you navigate your relationships with suppliers and partners:
1) Don’t choose between efficiency and expertise.
Over the years, many have asked, “Can you also run our social media? How about our PPC ads?” The truth is: Could we? Yes. Should we? Probably not.
It’s like when McDonald’s tried to sell pizza… yeah, remember that? We know what we’re great at, and we know what our partners are great at - so why would we promise something “good” when we know our customers could get something great?
Many agencies will run several parts of your digital marketing for you, which is obviously convenient, but… can they really be great at everything?
The reality is there is a minimum of 5+ integrations (lead nurturing, CRM, Iistings, online ordering, reporting, forms, chatbots, etc.) required to deliver the ideal customer online to offline journey ultimately leading to increasing your Average Unit Volume.
2) Remember that flexibility is key.
There’s nothing worse than being “locked in” with a supplier or software you’re unhappy with, or having to choose between maintaining control or standing on the sidelines while an agency takes the reins.
Not only is it important to hold your suppliers accountable, but they should also be holding their team and their partners accountable - especially if they’re providing you with several services.
When my Co-Founder Daniel and I created DevHub, we put flexibility first, allowing brands to choose and swap their desired providers so that they never have to sacrifice quality or wait around to get what they need.
You should own your content and your data; not your supplier. You should be able to easily manage your digital presence, your way. With three ways to implement and advanced permission settings, the brands we serve can choose to run their sites and pages themselves, have us do it for them, or something in the middle - all while controlling which facets their franchisees and/or agency partners can update.
3) Identify missed opportunities.
Keeping things as simple as possible for your customers is often what will win them over. Faulty links, redirects, or outdated information can put you at a major disadvantage.
Those who switch CMS platforms, on average, experience a 10 to 22% increase in organic traffic. This is largely because issues are identified, addressed, and new SEO tactics - compliant with all the latest web standards - are put into action. More visits to your website can also result in increased foot traffic, job and franchisee applications, online orders, and ultimately, a higher Average Unit Volume.
It’s not enough to have local listings that link back to a corporate site. Don’t underestimate the difference local microsites or local pages can make for your SEO ranking, recruitment, and more.
4) Maintain visibility of your digital performance.
Most agencies track analytics, but how easy is it for you to access them? Do you have firsthand insights into what conclusions are being drawn and what actions are being taken to improve performance? What about ownership of all content, imagery, and data collected?
Transparency means you maintain ownership over all your platforms and reports. Your agency partners should be sitting down with you regularly to track performance, reflect, and take actionable steps toward improvement - proactively.
More importantly, your contacts at your partner agencies should all truly know your brand. You should never be passed around from person to person to get an answer to your question or have to wait days for a response.
5) Be prepared for the ever-evolving technological sphere.
Artificial Intelligence, Google standards, ADA compliance… there’s so much to keep up with, and it can be costly and time-consuming.
Franchise brands need a technology-enabled partner to support their evolving digital activation needs - one that is always a step ahead.
This kind of selectivity will put you in control of core systems like Google Analytics, your Go-To-Market Strategy, Google Search Console, and Google Maps API setup.
6) The elephant in the room: AI
As any new technology from mobile phones to GPS in our cars provided seismic shifts to consumer behavior, we’ve built a platform able to embrace the use cases. But AI is different.
My first thought is: can this reduce costs for franchise brands? My second thought is: how do we leverage AI to better support the brands we serve and their customers?
Is it dynamic content for SEO? Is it 1:1 personalization of a brand to their consumer (i,e, landing pages or websites that shift to speak directly to the consumer in that moment of time?)
Still, the foundational presence of a brand is the key to success and the “hub” that will power each technological advancement that emerges. We’re ready for it - are you?
One platform, endless possibilities.
The competitive advantage for a franchise brand is to OWN the core websites. Our basic and advanced templates allow for simple a workflow, sustainable SEO strategy, and brand consistency as you scale. Distribute clean local data to search engines, web directories, social media networks, and major data aggregators, or roll out new programs and updates system-wide, with just a few clicks!
Once you’re set up with DevHub, easily launch new sites or pages in minutes - whether it’s for consumers or franchise development. From franchises of all kinds to industry-specific features for restaurants, home services, portfolio brands, and more, I invite you to experience the DevHub Difference for yourself.