Leveraging technology for business

The Rwandan poster child of Franchising is none other than Bourbon Coffee. Imagine my surprise when I was looking out of the bus window on 14th Street in Greenwich Village, New York only to see the double-branch that has become the trademark of a brand name Rwanda has exported to the West. To our credit, we got Bourbon out before McDonalds made it to Rwanda!
Alline Akintore
Alline Akintore

The Rwandan poster child of Franchising is none other than Bourbon Coffee. Imagine my surprise when I was looking out of the bus window on 14th Street in Greenwich Village, New York only to see the double-branch that has become the trademark of a brand name Rwanda has exported to the West. To our credit, we got Bourbon out before McDonalds made it to Rwanda!

It’s fair to say that besides Bourbon Coffee, Rwanda has nothing else to show for franchising (besides the phone service provider kiosks around the country) and the Child and Family Wellness (CFW) shops that are on track to open all over the country given the success in Kenya.

This network of micro pharmacies and clinics will provide essential healthcare to communities countrywide based on a franchise model of standard regulation, centralized procurement and base training. This is another step forward, but why isn’t the spurt bigger in say, healthcare, telecom, even utilities?

Franchising sparks innovation by driving competition but also given the drive to find solutions to the challenges it presents such as multi-tier management, quality control and the integration of, for example, third-party payment systems.

Solutions include Internet marketing solutions in local markets drawn from the competition and the need for differentiation; this concept extends to the products and services offered.I am no authority in this and my main interest is how to leverage technology for franchise growth and improved operations (for existent and future companies) if anyone ‘picks a leaf’ from Bourbon or for a chain of stores under the same hood of management.

Effective technology would provide a platform to manage business operations and reduce costs; it is obvious that technology only complements a system that is already profitable, with a solid concept and strong business relationships.

 Technology can eliminate manual processes related to sales such as automatically updating the database or sending out disclosure packages; implementing performance dashboards can provide feedback on sales, track effects of promotions on marketing and sales and enable assessment of individual store performance as well as the entire business.

The ability to quantify factors that affect performance without driving around and reading reports is invaluable if you ask me! Streamlining operations is much easier, for example: automating collection processes and reports; fostering communication by creating an online platform such as an intranet (reduces costs of telephone calls and paper mail); shared CRM applications could translate into increased customer loyalty and lastly, reduced cost of maintenance and tech support associated with running different branches separately.

This seems straightforward enough and yet it is true that many are reluctant to invest in the technology infrastructure to run their businesses effectively and ultimately paying the price over time; building a business for scalability with a well-planned technology foundation is a recipe of success.

I brought up the franchise business model to create an itch more than anything; moving in the direction of ICT hub of the region, it doesn’t hurt to think about how to use technology to exploit various business models, especially since one has proven to be a success.

The fact is we are not many years away from a pulsating IT scene and we cannot ignore what technology can do to leverage business operations or how theseoperations can foster the development of home-grown technology to meet the needs of both business and customer.

akintore@gmail.com

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