October 27, 2009

Franchises should consider using SMS messaging

BulkSMSlogo.jpg SMS messaging offers franchise operations the opportunity to send out individual or group messages in a few seconds and deliver these messages to the cellphones of a targeted list of contacts. With a bulk SMS costing less than a standard SMS, communications can be done in an affordable way.

“SMS messaging is growing as an accepted business communications tool in South Africa. Franchises are well placed to take advantage of this mobile channel,” says Dr Pieter Streicher, managing director of BulkSMS.com, a global mobile messaging provider headquartered in Cape Town.

Sending messages to one or many contact’s cellphones ensures that you can keep customers, supplier, staff and business partners in the loop with relevant and up-to-date information about a business process (such as a delivery), products and services.

There are three ways that SMS messaging can enhance business communications within a franchise operation: it provides a specific channel for the franchisor to send notifications to the franchisee; it increases operational efficiencies; and it can be used to market products and services to customers.

Enabling better inter-franchise communications

Franchisors can use SMS to alert or notify branches of new sales and training opportunities or simply keep franchisees up to date on matters relating to the franchise.

· A restaurant franchise may send an SMS to all restaurant owners notifying them to check their email for new recipes, updated menu items, or promotions.

· A courier operation uses SMS to keep all franchisees up to date on transport problems that may affect the delivery of items.

Increasing business efficiencies within franchise operation

One area where SMS messaging is providing value for businesses is in increasing internal operational efficiencies. This translates into better service levels, happier customers, and cost savings for the franchise.

· A printing business sends messages to their clients when printed goods are ready for collection.

· A car repair specialist sends an SMS a customer updating on progress with repairs or when the vehicle will be ready for collection.

· A courier service offers an SMS alert to the sender to track the progress or delivery of a parcel.

· A plumbing or gardening service confirms appointments with customers.

· A childcare service reminds parents about when fees are due, inform parents when their child is ill, or when the school will be closing for the holidays.

Effectively marketing products and services

An area where SMS messaging is on the rise is mobile marketing - the sending of marketing messages about products and services directly to customers’ cellphones.

Franchises need to bear in mind that they only contact customers that have explicitly requested marketing communications in the form of an SMS. In upholding consumer privacy, it is best to adhere to the hard opt-in rule when adding a number to a database. This means customers confirm that they agree to receive commercial messages on their cellphone at the point of sale or through a promotional campaign.

There are many types of mobile marketing campaigns that use bulk messaging to alert customers to specials or promotions:

· A gourmet food company uses bulk messaging to alert food-lovers about new recipes or food promotions.

· A dieting company keeps customers motivated by subscribing them to a health tip sent weekly to their cellphone.

· A travel agency sends out reminders to their customers about promotions on new holiday destinations and tours.

Weekly in October, Textually will be promoting BulkSMS, a company providing solutions to send and receive single and bulk SMS messages using the Internet, covering 700 networks globally.

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