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Blockcast.cc: This is our weekly interview session again. I am Joann Park, Editor for Blockcast.cc in South Korea. I have the honour to speak to Albert Kong, a veteran in the franchising industry. He has brought many brands to us, bridging cultures and tastes. Hi Albert, greetings. Please tell us about yourself; past and present experiences.
Albert: Thanks Joann, my name is Albert Kong, currently residing in Singapore. I am the Chairman and CEO of Asiawide Franchise Consultants Pte Ltd. I have more than 32 years of franchising experience. My team and I have helped over 1300 companies in over 10 Asian countries in franchising & related consulting work.
I have built a network of over 70 strategic partners in over 50 nations. I am also a board member at many franchise-related bodies including the World Franchise Council, Asia Pacific Franchise Confederation and Franchising & Licensing Association Singapore.
I have received numerous awards by various national franchise associations & other organizations, the latest being Franchise Expert of the Year 2019 by the ASEAN Retail Chains & Franchise Federation.
Looking back, I have spoken in 47 nations on over 300 occasions, co-authored “Developing and Managing a Franchise” and contributed to many publications on franchising. I am also the Editor-in-Chief of the Asia Franchise & Business Opportunities magazine since 1994.
Blockcast.cc: That is amazing. You have done so much for the business space. Given COVID19 changing the business landscape. What to expect in international franchise development for 2021 and beyond?
Albert: What is clear is that because consumers are now more concerned about their health and hygiene, they will prefer healthier food, and if possible, know the origins of the ingredients. Food franchises therefore should do their best to address these concerns, including implementing or increasing ‘contactless’ touchpoints (e.g. delivery people to avoid having physical contact with the consumer; have curbside pick-ups for non-dining-in experiences, etc.). Other trends to watch out for include meatless diets (supposed to help the environment); mood-enhancing drinks; etc.
Blockcast.cc: The most successful franchise brands are the ones with strong business models and supportive franchisors in well-positioned industries. What type of franchise is most likely to succeed?
Albert: Speaking from my 32 years of experience in franchising, not every franchise will succeed in every nation. One has to understand the target market’s needs and wants. For example, a pork dish, no matter how popular, will never sell in a strict Muslim nation like Saudi Arabia. Or a hip cafe selling marijuana-laced drinks in the West would be illegal in Singapore. Many other factors need to be considered. A thorough business plan is essential.
Blockcast.cc: Tech is baked into nearly every part of franchise operations, helping unit owners track trends, train workers, learn, market to customers and make more sales. Can you name a few technologies that are shaping the franchise industry?
Albert: You are right. There’s no getting away from technology nowadays. Global use of technology in franchising includes franchise management software (my company has one named Asiawide Digital Advantage), online delivery apps, social media (Facebook Live), web-based POS systems, mobile payments, and many more.
Blockcast.cc: Franchise is a big space on its own. Do you think technology can help your industry?
Albert: Definitely. Not using technology is like hiding inside a cave and not knowing what is happening to the business in a speedy and efficient way. Used intelligently, technology can help a franchise company become more productive, more profitable and grow more efficiently.
One of the biggest pain points is to ensure consistency and to monitor the performance of franchisees. With technology, we will get better transparency on the process/quality compliance, reduce manpower errors and better data visibility. Also, a common issue is the under-reporting of royalties. Technology helps to give transparency and hence enhance the enforceability of the accurate payment of regular fees like royalties.
Blockcast.cc: Under-reporting of royalties is a pain point? I always thought the current POS system can track everything. Since transparency is an issue, this brought me to blockchain technology that can track and track. Do you think blockchain can help your industry further?
Albert: With the little, I know about blockchain, I will still say YES because it will induce more transparency and it will let all parties involved become more tightly knitted in terms of cooperation, security, and productivity.
Examples of usefulness:
(a) Digital signature using blockchain -> to ensure that the documents are signed by the right person with record trail;
(b) IOT to get data recorded on ledgers;
(c) Use of cryptocurrency
Blockcast.cc: In your view, where is blockchain best suited in the franchise industry?
Albert: The licensing agreement. The traceability of the origins of the various ingredients and suppliers; the use of digital signatures.
Blockcast.cc: Last but not least, can you share with our readers an inspiring quote?
Ego = 1 divided by Wisdom. The wiser you are, the lesser your ego…
Blockcast.cc: Thanks Albert for your time. You can contact Albert on Linkedin at albert-kong-b145b1.
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