October 5, 2022

The Importance of Digital Reporting for Franchise

One essential factor that can make or break a business’ growth is communication. But what is being communicated and how? The answer, in AlphaGraphics’ specific case, is key data through data reporting. That’s what TruPresence’s Jeremy LaDuque and AlphaGraphics’ Ross Odegaard cover in TruPresence’s latest webinar, outlining the need for universal reporting across the levels of the organization and how AlphaGraphics can better communicate internally with data.

Communicating Across the AlphaGraphics Ecosystem

Communication between the three primary areas of AlphaGraphics is essential for understanding strategy, identifying key problems, and creating a presence within a physical or online community. The problem can lie in how AlphaGraphics’ three areas have different communication needs, with each one looking to track specific goals. AlphaGraphics’ three primary areas include:

  • AlphaGraphics Headquarters, or corporate
  • The AlphaGraphics franchisees, or owners of the individual locations
  • The AlphaGraphics field support, or coaches and consultants looking to sponsor growth

Headquarters (HQ) needs to visualize how the whole operation is performing, while franchisees need to understand their individual performance. Coaches and field support need to understand how specific goals are being reached. Having a digital reporting system that outlines specific goals, metrics, and performance is mission-critical when you have that many “cooks in the kitchen.” Without those uniform reports, each area will attempt to change the reporting system to focus on their needs, leaving the other two confused about how the franchise is actually performing. This leads to the potential for the wrong metrics being tracked and the wrong strategies being implemented, negatively impacting growth.

Digital Reporting Toolset

There are dozens of reporting tools that make the job easier. A franchisor’s goal should be to try and find tools that create both uniform and custom reports for every area of the organization. Additionally, with so many data streams to pull from, franchisors need to be able to keep data organized and insightful analytics separated from the unhelpful information. All while managing costs.  

As Ross points out in the webinar, a solid option is Google Data Studio. Google tools provide insightful data at an affordable cost. Universal Analytics is a veritable resource for tracking data, although franchisors using Universal Analytics need to implement Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible if they haven’t done so already. Other Google tools like Google Tag Manager can monitor and report on a variety of interactions across the web properties within a franchise.

It can be a wise decision for franchisors looking to enrich their reporting to look to external data sources. Other data sources can include Google’s Business Profile Manager, your directory listings management software, as well as our own TruPresence franchise reporting. All of which can provide data for essential performance metrics that can work in unison with Google data tools, offering a unique perspective into the same insights so franchisors can get a better sense of what happened and why.

Finding multiple ways to track and measure website interactions can help grow traffic and conversion both for online and offline interactions. Franchisors should be flexible when experimenting with Business Intelligence tools and shouldn’t be afraid to try more than one at a time.

Reporting on Actionable Insights

As stated earlier, different areas of the franchise are looking for different things, so digital reports need to be focused on their audience. Each report needs to serve a purpose. It’s also important to remember that, as Ross and Jeremy discuss, corporate is there to make sure that franchisees have the tools they need to succeed. Franchisees are business leaders in and of themselves and are looking for actionable insights that can help their individual locations grow. There is going to be a natural learning curve when delivering on the type of reporting a franchisee needs as opposed to the type of reporting corporate will need.

This is where field support can play a pivotal role. Coaches and consultants can act as intermediaries between franchisor and franchisee reporting. Franchisees might not be aware of the specific metrics they need to facilitate growth. Franchisees need to see their own data: traffic, sessions, bounce rates, etc... Reports for individual locations will be both uniform and customized, as separate locations take on different strategies, for example, if one location invested in a paid advertising or social media campaign.

Key metrics like traffic sources and new users will have a direct impact on revenue and are what both franchisors and franchisees want to track. As Ross points out, reports centered on metrics like franchisee traffic will help all three areas of the organization “speak the same language,” so franchisees and HQ can look at similar data, align their goals, and understand how their growth is performing.

Reports like the Franchisee traffic overview allow franchisees to understand their own growth, as a microsite within the main corporate site. This report highlights specific metrics like sessions, bounce rates, and page views that can indicate optimal performance or signal underperforming web content. Having that level of detail on hand can impact how all three areas of AlphaGraphics build their marketing strategies moving forward, providing insight into what needs to be prioritized.

AlphaGraphics takes it a step further by offering reports that separate organic from inorganic traffic.

This type of reporting helps franchisees understand where to target specific marketing efforts, for example, looking at bounce rates and separating organic traffic by cities. A franchisee can then take those insights and direct any marketing towards engaging with the audience they want to see grow.

AlphaGraphics HQ will work with similar reports that encapsulate the entire network, helping them to discover ways to help everyone improve their performance. 

The metrics that HQ tracks are the same ones that a franchisee will track, but on a considerably larger scale.

Building reports that can track those metrics and differentiate the actionable insights to fit the audience is an excellent way to stimulate communication and growth simultaneously.

Content Tracking and SEO

One actionable insight that is applicable to all locations is achieving a higher SEO (search engine optimization) ranking. Organic and Local SEO are powerful methods to help drive online and offline traffic into a physical location and build a local presence. Tracking and reporting on metrics like branded and non-branded keywords can help franchisors understand web content performance and how to improve it.

Corporate can work to improve franchisee’s rankings by reinvesting time and effort into the web content it produces and communicate to the franchisee what types of content works better than others. Organic reach is a mission-critical metric for any corporate area of a franchise. A way to improve upon that metric is to evaluate franchisor and franchisee content, see how they compare, and see where they can align in their messaging and brand continuity. The better position a franchise can achieve in an organic search, the less cost it incurs in its marketing efforts. That said, content creation can be difficult if the communication between corporate, coaches, and franchisees isn’t as strong as it should be.

Digital marketing reports, tracking metrics like keyword performance and bounce rate for content pages, can help clarify the content needs internally between franchisee and franchisor. That way their goals can become more aligned, and any future strategies implemented can be carried out in a more unified manner.

Communicating Unity

As Jeremy points out, franchise operations are unique and can range on a spectrum of complexity. Some franchises offer simple services to a broad audience and others offer more high-end services to a niche market. In that same vein, franchisees can range in shape and size as well. Some franchisees are larger, with more assets at their disposal than others. For example, a franchisee may have a small marketing team or established partnerships with third party consultants. And similarly, some franchisees are a one-man show. Regardless of the size of the franchisee, each one can use guidance on what metrics to track and what insights to follow.

It can be easy to forget that corporate is there to service the franchisee; typically, franchisees are willing to engage and be a part of their own business strategy. In the example Ross put forth, it’s important to play to the franchisee’s strengths. If they have a passion for marketing, or a competent team that can manage social media campaigns effectively, then a franchisor can offer them the relevant reports that can help them utilize their skillsets. Reports that monitor trending topics or local keywords can offer the franchisee the insight they need to strengthen their own operation while helping the franchisor strengthen the whole organization, and the field support better understand where to direct marketing strategy.

That level of communication can spark heightened enthusiasm and engagement from each individual location, and further the whole organization.

Ultimately, the importance of digital reporting for franchise can be summed up by saying that it’s necessary for growth. Data, and just as importantly, the communication of the data, can align business goals across every level of the franchise organization. Structured reporting outlines objectives, addresses everyone's needs and creates a path forward through actionable insights that benefit all parties.

Organizations like AlphaGraphics are leading the charge when it comes to next level data reporting. With tools like TruPresence, they can see the location analytics for each franchisee, and present their findings in a way that makes it easier for each location to learn and grow. Relationships are built on communication, and a franchise is no different. Communicating the information necessary for growth is how a franchise can succeed as one organization with many moving parts.

Evaluate your reporting and check to see whether you’re communicating to the best of your franchise’s ability now so you can continue to grow.

Nick Zerbst

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