In this article, I’ll attempt to do a very short overview of the workflow you should use to think about how to approach your franchise website development and design project. It may seem a bit short but it’s goal is meant to just give you the general map of the things to think about it, not do all the thinking for you.
The primary reason why this matters to you is because if you go directly one vendor, you’ll probably end up getting their biased view of what to build and how to build it which often ends up in some sort of feel-good-lets-just-build-our-own-custom-solution decision.
A decision that is often high-risk, low value and hurtful to all your stakeholders.
Let’s start with some stakeholders to consider & what each one of these groups want (not including nice-to-haves)?
- Potential franchisees: detailed information, advice and the ability to get more info about purchasing your franchise
- Consumers: find their local franchise, get directions, hours and basic services / product information.
- Franchisees: stay up on what corporate is doing, promotions, resources, news / updates.
Who should be managing the information for each of these main sections/portals?
- Potential franchisees: franchise sales director
- Consumers: hybrid of franchisor’s marketing / content director and the individual franchisee (or their marketing person)
- Franchisees: corporate’s marketing director / content director
So how do you approach this beast? A logical question would be to ask yourself what technology can best accommodate so much overlap and permission management. The issue with that question is that it will inevitably lead you to a custom developed solution that has many negatives.
Custom web solutions in general have a few negatives
- Require intensive resources to stay updated
- Have a high initial cost for development
- Often go over budget and take 2x to 3x times their estimates
- Become useless within a few months
- New improvements have to be custom made as well
- Are easy to agree on as a group since they require no compromises (just brings on a delayed-debt effect)
- Encourage sunk-cost mentality… digging yourself in a hole because you keep believing that you are making something that is tailor made to your needs
The truth is that in technology, it is very rare for the math to work out to your benefit when you build custom solutions. Especially when there are so many vendors that are focused on specific areas of your needs. But it’s your job to be able to understand how to break up your projects and consider your trade-offs. That’s where most franchise website development and design projects fail.
The web just moves way too fast and when technology is not your specialty it’ll end up hurting you in the long run. The issue is that at first, it feels right. You think to yourself… well, my needs are unique, I need to make sure that the technology that I choose fits that. Consider that over 80% of all IT projects fail outright. God knows how many go way over budget and timeline.
So knowing this, we suggest to use three different websites for each effort. You should separate these portals and their administrators since they serve very different functions, need to move at different speed and have different stakeholders.
Your franchise’s web design project is already hard as it is. You need to be constantly upgrading and moving as fast as you can with the demands of search engines, your staff, your customers and your franchisees. The last thing you need is for a legacy platform to stand in the way.
If your specialty is franchising and not IT, please read on…
I suggest splitting your project into three portals & optimize your decision for the following
- Local websites for franchisees: choose the platform that best manages the hybrid control of brand and content between franchisee and franchisor. Our system, Empowerkit, is the most powerful and affordable choice in the market for franchisors to enable their franchisees to have mobile, search engine optimized websites that they both can manage. We suggest going with a 3rd party platform mainly because consumers are your most demanding segment and waiting for your small IT staff to upgrade your system in a few months just won’t do.
- Franchise recruitment site: choose a simple cms such as WordPress but this time work with a local SEO/SEM company that can take control of your portal and optimize your lead gen. WordPress in this case is a good choice because your SEO/SEM company really spend the time and effort need
- Corporate website: choose a simple cms such as WordPress or Drupal and hire a local agency to redo the design.
The list above was organized in order of most complicated platform to least. Local franchisee sites are possibly the most neglected of all the components have by far the most potential for ROI. It’s sad that most franchisors will continue to bundle up all these into one monster and wait a few years to change it again.
I neglected to talk about migration from your current solution mainly because migration is never a nice thing but if you think about migration first and platform second, you will always end up with a decision you regret. Empowerkit provides a free migration from your current solution (whatever it maybe) so that’s one to cross off!
Have any questions? Feel free to email me directly – firstname.lastname@example.org