The beginning of a new year brings with it a sense of opportunity and as 2023 unfolds, franchise sector leaders could be forgiven for taking a sigh of relief.
2022 was turbulent to say the least – the pound crashed to its lowest level ever, we saw four chancellors and three prime ministers, taxes hit a 70-year high as wages fell at the fastest rate in decades and inflation sparked a cost of living crisis.
This year, the prospect of a blank page and fresh start is more welcome than ever and promisingly, confidence in the UK’s economic prospects look set to improve in 2023.
According to the IoD’s Economic Confidence Index, which measures business leader optimism in prospects for the UK economy, confidence rose to -58 in December, up from -64 in November with improvements in expectations for revenue, employment, investment and directors’ optimism. The index also revealed that 55% of business leaders expect increased revenue in the next 12 months while around 30% expect higher business investment and employment rates.
This confidence signals a busy year ahead. Franchise organisations must prepare for a sustained influx of new enquiries over the coming months and be ready and able to meet this demand head on.
For the franchise sector, this begins in January with the flurry of budding new franchisees. Here, Hollie Broadhead, business development executive from Moneypenny shares her tips for making 2023 the year for delivering brilliant customer care all-year-round, without getting stung by seasonal spikes or the impact of unexpected political and economic changes.
- Make a plan – start the year by regrouping with your wider team. Explore how their pipeline is looking as we enter the new year, which departments are feeling the pressure and what challenges individuals and teams are anticipating. A clear understanding of the state of play will enable you to devise an informed strategy that delivers a solution.
- Extend availability – take into account that consumer communication habits have changed and businesses need to be available outside of the traditional 9-5. Outsourced telephone answering and live chat solutions ensure that enquiries can be answered around the clock, without putting extra pressure on staff.
- Be proactive – as well as putting measures in place to handle inbound communications, consider investing in outbound support to follow-up with enquiries and qualify leads before they’re passed on to team members – another way of boosting productivity by allowing experienced team members to focus on more profitable tasks.
- Supercharge your web presence – live chat technology generates six times more website engagement and encourages visitors who wouldn’t otherwise take the time to email or call, to engage with you. It also reduces the risk of them taking valuable potential business elsewhere, putting you ahead of your competitors from the very offset of 2023.
- Protect your brand – committing to delivering consistent customer care protects the brand that you’ve worked so hard to develop. Empower in-house staff to continue giving warm welcomes while simultaneously avoiding calls ringing out or reaching voicemail. This ensures enquirers are left feeling confident that their business is valued and positions your business as one who cares.
Hollie concluded: “Of course, every business experiences peaks and troughs buts if your bottom line is dipping as a result of being unable to handle incoming enquiries, there’s a problem. You could be missing out on valuable new business and in a competitive marketplace, the fact is that if a prospect can’t speak to someone online or via phone on demand, then they’ll fall straight into the hands of a competitor.
“As 2022 has taught us, none of us know what’s around the corner, so don’t fall victim to changes in demand – whether that’s seasonal spikes or bumps in the road that none of us saw coming. Your services are needed all year round, so ensure you have an adequate client communications solution in place and grab 2023’s business by both hands.”