In April I attended the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference in Las Vegas. I didn’t need much convincing beforehand, but am now in complete agreement that the USA is “the inarguable home of franchising.” What was eye-opening was how there is still a mix of how decisions are made at each brand. In some cases, everything about the store experience – including the standard of the public Wi-Fi service – is centralised. At other brands, the franchisee finds their own supplier. I’m going to argue strongly that guest Wi-Fi is a central feature of the customer experience, and should be a brand standard.
Why Wi-Fi Should be a Brand Standard
We have been working with QSR food and beverage retailers for several years. We deliver public Wi-Fi at over 10.5k outlets for a major North American coffee chain. Its stores implement centrally-determined brand standards across every touchpoint in its customer experience. Each element is optimised, and its suppliers are held to high-performing SLAs because its Wi-Fi service is as synonymous with the brand as its coffee.
These coffee shops are places where consumers will choose to work, rest in between shops, or entertain their kids, specifically because of the Wi-Fi performance. As Wi-Fi is the number 1 requested guest amenity in hospitality, the upside for the retailer is that the quality isn’t left to chance. This lets the franchisee focus on what they do best. High-performance Wi-Fi brings customers through the doors and contributes to a stronger customer relationship, loyalty, higher dwell time and spending.
The Burger is the Same. Why Not the Wi-Fi?
And then…. there are other brands where each venue might source a different Wi-Fi service supplier. Knowing how successfully we work with customer experience teams at head offices across multiple vertical industries, to design and implement a great Wi-Fi experience. I think it’s making life hard for the franchisee if Wi-Fi is not set as a brand standard.
McKinsey describes how “customer experience refers to everything that an organisation does to deliver superior experiences, value and growth for customers.” And says that it’s found this to result in 3x returns to shareholders. Consistency is a crucial element of any good brand. Consumers choose a store, an airline, or a restaurant because of the brand experience. Consumer brand recognition will help a new venue attract customers, because of the pull factor of certain products, amenities, and how the brand delivers them – or its customer experience (CX). So, where a brand has invested heavily in the quality of its products, and the training of its staff, it’s a crime for the quality of its Wi-Fi service to diminish this.
Moreover, it’s less work, and therefore cost, to centrally build and deliver a Wi-Fi service than it is to build afresh for individual units. In the case of the coffee chain I mentioned above, we rolled a Wi-Fi service out to every branch in under six hours.
How to Set a Wi-Fi Brand Standard
No matter how large the venues within your chain, group or franchise, we would make the case for Wi-Fi being a brand standard.
As a basic principle, users want the same or better levels of connectivity as they would at home. They also need consistency. Consumer behaviour shows that customers will actively seek out a store or working space based on the quality of the Wi-Fi experience at another venue in the chain. If they then buy a coffee/pizza/burger etc., sit down to work and the Wi-Fi is poor, they’ve wasted their money, they’re annoyed because they’re unproductive, and the brand experience is damaged.
Aside from the cost efficiencies of a single supplier, the brand and franchisees will benefit from:
- Brand consistency: A branded captive portal can still be customised to each franchise venue. We deliver Wi-Fi captive portals across major 19 rail stations in the UK for example. The captive portal has the same template, but each station’s text and background images are changed.
- A common user journey: The way users login is also part of the brand experience. Should this be automatic? Or a simple ‘click-to-connect’ journey? What languages should the captive portal display in? Is it essential to use content filtering? A brand standard will see every store use the same smooth UX.
- Analytics: With all franchise Wi-Fi services connected by a single management platform, such as GlobalReach’s cloud Wi-Fi platform Trusted WiFi, the retailer benefits from everything above, controlled from a single dashboard, including insight about network use and health. They can understand patterns across their network, peak usage time, etc. This helps guide marketing and communications, optimising the value of the digital channel to inform the business.
- Compliance: We advise brands and venues on how to design services that comply with data protection legislation. This minimises implementing experiences that could damage the brand such as capturing and storing PII (personally identifiable information).
GlobalReach provides services to deliver branded large-scale and public Wi-Fi services for thousands of venues. Services can be customised at a venue level, with no impact on the overall service. Talk to our team today about your franchise Wi-Fi experience.
This article previously appeared in Elite Franchise magazine (USA), in July 2023. Read it here.