You know that technology is essential to run your business, right? But it’s not a “set it and forget” item where your franchise is concerned. How do you really know if the technology you have is new enough, good enough, or robust enough to help your business versus just allowing your business to exist?
In a recent survey by Microsoft, more than 90 percent of consumers said they would consider taking their business elsewhere rather than work with a company that was using outdated technology.
Technology is not solely important for the internal workings of your franchise. Your customers care about how you use it and whether you understand it. What could happen if you don’t embrace new technology? More than you may realize.
· Slow or dysfunctional systems can lead to decreased productivity
· Potential customers who sense you are behind the technology times can turn into missed opportunities
· Old technology can mean real security risks for your data (and your business overall)
· You may not be able to integrate between your software and partner applications
Your franchise needs to keep up with the times to stay viable. How do you know when it’s time for new technology? Here are six common indicators.
You’re forced to stick with your old applications.
Ideally, your applications should be able to work together. For example, does your payment technology support mobile payments? Does it then connect with your accounting software to track revenue? There are many integrations that can help your business function seamlessly, but you need to have the right technology in place to be able to use them for your franchise’s and your customers’ benefit.
You are not in the cloud.
You’ve probably been doing some of your work in the cloud for years. Maybe you are using collaboration tools or do your banking or payroll online. But are you still using desktop accounting software? Are you processing invoices or timecards manually after your staff turns in their paperwork?
Cloud-based financial tools like Xero and QuickBooks Online make it easy to manage your financial data wherever you are, on any computer or mobile device that connects to the internet. They’re designed for small businesspeople like you, and they offer a standard, common set of accounting features. Because they live online, they:
· Are accessible to multiple users — and your accountant
· Get updated and backed up automatically
· Offer a simpler, more pleasant user experience
You can’t work away from the office.
Mobile technology is no longer optional — not if you want your franchise to stay competitive. There are so many tasks that you and your employees can perform remotely, like employee timecards and payroll, estimating, payment processing — even customer service — so that you’re not tied to the office. You can connect with customers and vendors, monitor inventory and inspections, and collaborate on marketing efforts from afar, making your onsite to-do list much shorter.
Getting up to speed with mobile technology can allow you to better reach customers and prospects with your franchise’s own apps. Nearly three-quarters of the U.S. adult population that use smartphones spend roughly three hours and 23 minutes on apps every day, and only 50 minutes on mobile web. Does your franchise have its own app yet? 42 percent of small businesses do — and they’ve discovered the benefits associated with this smart use of technology.
You get hacked.
About 82 percent of small business owners believe they have nothing worth stealing. It’s odd, then, that 43 percent of global cyberattacks in 2016 involved small businesses with fewer than 250 employees.
Even if you’ve protected your franchise’s systems with antivirus software, spam filters, two-step authentication, etc., there’s more you can do. Recovering from a data breach — especially considering the cost of losing customer trust — is more expensive than fully protecting yourself upfront. Your efforts to be proactive about security are limited, though, if your franchise is using antiquated technology.
Millennials are turning down your job offers.
Having trouble getting millennials to join your company? Maybe your technology — or lack thereof — is working against you. Eighty percent of millennials say that tech will influence their job decisions, and 42 percent say that they would leave a job with unsatisfactory technology. Millennials are estimated to be 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, so it’s likely that your business will soon be dependent upon that generation’s workforce. If you are looking to attract the workforce of the future, you will need to make your franchise tech savvy.
Your company doesn’t seem “tech forward.”
Any idea how potential customers perceive your franchise? Do you seem like you are forward thinking? Are you using technology to make your business better and help customers? You may not think it matters, but to many consumers it does — a lot. Microsoft surveyed consumers to ask them how much technology really matters to them. They found that:
- 61 percent think an SMB is outdated if it’s using an operating system that is more than five years old
- 68 percent think “modern technology” is key to the success of a business
- 70 percent said they were be “extremely or quite concerned” about providing personal information on an outdated SMB Web site
- 91 percent would stop doing business with a company because of its outdated technology
Stop and think
Before you spend money upgrading technology randomly, assess your needs and create a list of tools that would help your business function better and grow. Can you achieve your goals using your existing technology? Can you limp along for another year, or should you add some items to your 2018 budget? What do your customers think? Surveying them might be very enlightening.
Want to stay competitive? Make the move toward the latest technologies and software. Start with your accounting and bookkeeping. BKE can help — and we’ll take a look at your books for free.