Operations Management Articles

How to Choose the Right Franchise Management Software to Manage Multiple Outlets

by Abhishek Singh
Published on 3 August 2017

How_to_Choose_the_Right_Franchise_Management_Software_to_Manage_Multiple_Outlets

According to the 2016 Top Markets Report Franchising survey, franchising has been a significant industry sector of the US economy, accounting for 50 percent of retail sales across 75 industries and generating one in seven jobs. The survey, conducted by the US Department of Commerce, said that approximately 780,000 franchise businesses employed over 8.8 million people and contributed over $890 billion to the US economy.

One of the best ways to get a revenue share of this booming industry is by incorporating franchise management software in your business. Not only can franchise management software help boost your revenue, but it can also increase business management and collaboration among your franchise outlets located throughout the country.

This article provides the essential tips and tricks for finding the right franchise management software for your business based on your budget and business requirements. Let's start with defining what franchise management software is and how it's necessary for your business.

What is franchise management software?

Before defining what franchise management software is, it's important to understand the concept of a franchise. In a nutshell, franchising is a retail business model between two parties - the franchiser and franchisee. The franchiser allows the franchisee to use its brand name and business model, based on a license fee to market goods, which may also include a percentage of royalty sales revenue.

For example, in 2017, more than 80 percent of McDonald's global restaurants are owned and operated by franchisees. SMB restaurants can open a McDonald's franchise with an investment of $1-$2.2 million, $750,000 in liquid capital, and a franchise fee of $45,000. In the US economy, the franchise business model is most commonly used in fast food services, clothing, luxury brands, and hotel sectors.

So, how does franchise management software fit into a franchise business? Franchise management software is a collaboration platform between franchisers and franchisees that helps to increase engagement between these two parties regarding marketing, sales revenue, branding, CRM, inventory management, lease payment, reporting, and other business aspects. The software helps franchisers to grow their business by hiring more franchisees, converting leads into customers, monitoring retail market performance based on real-time analytics, and streamlining operations. The software helps to connect multiple franchise sites through integrated communications based on emails and notifications.

Does my small business really need a franchise management software?

As a franchiser, you may be well-versed with how difficult it is to manage multiple franchise locations, especially if they are spread throughout the country or globally. How do you ensure that you maintain the quality standards and efficient operations that are followed in your headquarters? One way to ensure smooth operations management is to automate inventory management, field management, reporting, employee scheduling, and other features with the help of franchise management software.

Here are some reasons how and why your business needs franchise management software:

  • Increase inventory and supply chain: Franchise management software represents inventory data in a dashboard to help you get an accurate forecast of your inventory levels in real-time. Purchase orders can be placed based on min/max inventory levels that are linked with the supplier chain. For example, Finale Inventory features an automatic stock replenishment tool that can be used throughout your franchise chain, to let your franchisees view historical data and seasonal trends.
  • CRM: Customers retention is strongly dependent on the customer service quality in all your franchisee outlets. Franchise management software helps to monitor customer relationship management by monitoring employee training, loyalty points, and product promotion in a dashboard to drive more customers to your outlets. For example, Pipedrive is CRM software that helps to monitor in-store customer interaction based on sales figures and customer feedback.
  • Quality management: Franchise management software helps you monitor the inspection of your franchise outlets based on industry audit standards and checklists. The software stores historical inspection information of your outlets and uses it as a benchmark for any inspection negligence. As a result of this data, in-person inspection of your outlets is much faster as current data can be compared with historical data and any discrepancies can be spotted and mapped out.
  • Marketing: Franchise management allows your franchisees to create their own limited marketing campaigns that can be shared with the head office and other franchise outlets. For example, Marketing 360 helps you to improve, monitor, and configure marketing campaigns in real time.

Is my business ready?

Here are three questions to ask yourself to evaluate if your small business is ready to implement a franchise management software:

  • Do you find it difficult to manage multiple franchise locations?

Collaboration is key to the success of your franchise business. Franchise management software can further help you to strengthen this collaboration, as it is cloud-based, which means your franchise outlets can access your sales, CRM, inventory, and other data from their locations and update the data simultaneously with other franchise locations. The software ensures you are able to monitor all franchise operations from a single dashboard with real-time information related to sales, inventory, supply chain, and other business critical information.

  • How do you search for the right franchise for your business?

The relationship between a franchiser and a franchisee should be a win-win relationship that is based on good fund management and investment. However, finding the right franchiser or franchisee is difficult as important criteria such as investment limit, cash capital, and percentage share or royalty on sales all have to be taken into account. A franchisee can list themselves on franchise management software so the franchiser can select them based on region, industry, and investment limit.

  • Do you find it difficult to manage your inventory throughout your franchise locations?

Maintaining a steady supply chain of products from your franchise warehouse to the franchisees is important to meet customer demand and avoid any wastage of perishable items, especially if you are a food services franchise. Franchise management software displays the stock available in all of your franchise outlets so that you can control the level of inventory.

What to look for when buying a franchise management software?

Before purchasing a franchise management software, it's important to match your business requirements with the features of the software. Here are some points to keep in mind while choosing the software:

  • Will you go for an on-premise software or a cloud-based solution?

If you are a franchiser, you should choose cloud-based software, as all your outlets will be able to input CRM, ERP, and other data points into a common software platform. A cloud-based franchise management software will ensure streamlined operations and workforce management. Alternatively, you can opt for an on-premise software if you don't need any collaboration with other franchise outlets.

  • Will you be able to integrate it with other software you are already using?

Software integration is key to having more features in your franchise management software as not all franchise software feature a retail POS, supply chain management, price control, and other business-specific features. Choose a franchise management software that specifically caters to your industry, whether you are in the food services or luxury brand industry alike.

  • Does the franchise management software have an iOS and Android app?

Would you like your supervisors and employees in other franchise locations to view and enter data through their iOS or Android device? If yes, then make sure that the franchise management software that you are planning to purchase has an iOS or Android app with similar features as the desktop version.

  • What pricing options are available?

Franchise management software is priced using one-time licenses and subscription-based models. In a one-time license plan, you have to make a single payment to purchase the software license and then you own it forever. In a subscription-based software, you can purchase the software for a specific duration, which is usually paid monthly or annually. Subscription-based pricing is the most common in a cloud-based software, while on-premise provides a one-time license. If you have multiple retail outlets, it's ideal to go for the cloud-based version as it allows multiple user access, instead of paying a one-time fee that only covers one location.

Essential features of franchise management software

After addressing all the questions mentioned above, your next step should be in deciding the essential features that you want in your franchise management software. Here is a list of some of the essential features that should be present in a franchise management software:

  • Inventory management - Helps you automate the process of ordering, storing, and tracking products to ensure that adequate supply of your products meets customer demand.
  • Field service management - Schedules and tracks field operations of your representatives by providing schedules, route planner, and customer and product information.
  • Operations management - Presents data in a dashboard to view to manage price, quality, supply, and inventory of your stock.
  • Status tracking - Helps in lead management of your product by tracking the life cycle of the product from the warehouse, sales, to your customers, and other processes.
  • Reporting - Helps to provide business insights regarding the performance of all franchise outlets through a business intelligence tool based on sales, revenue, customer attrition, and other data sets in a dashboard.

Examples of popular franchise management software

Once you have finalized the features that you would be looking for a franchise management software, your next step should be shortlisting software that's based on your budget and features. To give you a head start, here are three popular franchise management software solutions with their pricing:

Marketing 360

Marketing 360 helps to streamline marketing operations throughout your franchise outlets. The software is an intelligent marketing platform for integrating your business with professional marketing services as it allows you to optimize specific marketing channels through different types of modules. The Marketing 360 Natural Listing Ads module helps you improve organic sales and increase keyword rankings through SEO software integration. Secondly, the Top Placement Ads module helps you get the top three ads spots on a search engine to generate the most clicks from prospecting customers. Lastly, the Retargeting Ads module helps you monitor potential sales by listing banner ads on websites and the Top Rated Local or National program module helps to control your business reputation management.

With all these marketing modules, your franchise business can collaborate on marketing campaigns from a single platform.

Price: Available on request

Jolt

Jolt is an operations management software designed for SMB franchise businesses for employee management and food safety compliance. If you have a fast food franchise, Jolt can help you to create checklists, audits, labeling, training, and manage schedules and attendance. The software also features reporting and alerts that help you to monitor your business in real-time.

The software's employee management feature helps to reduce the cost of labor and enhance accountability and productivity through time-sheet management.

Price: $49.99 per month

ServiceBridge

ServiceBridge is a field service management software that helps your franchise business in customer management to inventory tracking. The software features work order and scheduling that can be managed through a drag and drop assignment timeline. ServiceBridge creates new work order agendas for field workers and automatically updates them through email and SMS notifications. The software monitors field operations of your franchise outlets through map-based tracking of personnel and suggests optimal routes to a destination based on previous travel data.

Price: Starts from $50 per user per month

What Next?

Are you already using franchise management software? Leave a comment below and let us know your experience in using the software.


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