FranConnect offers software and solutions exclusively designed for the franchising industry.
By Kat Zeman, Knighthouse Media
Operating a franchise isn’t easy. Managing the multifaceted operation can involve massive spreadsheets, expensive customized or home-grown systems and other non-integrated single-point solutions.
Although a variety of software solutions to help manage operations are available to business owners, very few are designed specifically for franchising. Of these few, FranConnect has emerged as the leader.
The Reston, Va.-based software and solutions company focuses entirely on helping franchisees and franchisors effectively manage their business through the entire franchise lifecycle.
“I believe we have the most proven and differentiated system out there,” says Keith Gerson, president of FranConnect and a certified franchise executive. “It’s been 18 years that we’ve been designing, developing and implementing solutions to help franchisors and franchisees achieve their true potential.”
More than 700 brands and 140,000 franchisees throughout the world rely on FranConnect’s software and solutions. From small and emerging brands to large enterprises, FranConnect caters to companies of all shapes, sizes and markets. Its integrated and centralized franchise management system is designed to enable and deliver processes and solutions for each performance stage of a franchise’s growth.
“And FranConnect is not just software,” Gerson adds. “It’s the people and the knowledge behind it. We have a proven history of success with hundreds of franchisors and thousands of franchisees because our system is built upon franchise best practices that we’ve amassed over 18 years in business. Plus, we conduct extensive discovery with our customers to understand their challenges and what their desired future state will look like. That’s how we’re able to not only help solve today’s problems but also deliver on tomorrow’s goals.”
The Big Five
FranConnect offers modular solutions that it bundles into five different categories: develop, open, engage market and perform. Information is designed to flow freely from stage to stage and give users a detailed view of performance at each stage.
Under its “develop” solutions, the company offers franchise-specific CRM functionality. Franchisors use it to improve lead-to-close conversion rates as they generate more leads for new franchisees, reduce cost per lead and ensure compliance with complex FDD Electronic Disclosure.
“Our ‘develop’ solution is usually the tool of choice for franchise sales teams,” Gerson says. “It’s primarily for executives, franchise sales managers and the development and operations teams responsible for the initial sale and onboarding of franchisees. FranConnect has been rated franchising’s No. 1 CRM.”
The “opener” solution is one of the most important in the suite. It provides franchisors with tools needed to open units faster and more cost effectively. The toolkit of schedules/templates, tips and best practices enable franchisors to significantly reduce the number of days it takes to get a franchise to generate revenue.
Engage and Market
Training and a centralized communications module, known as The Hub, fall under FranConnect’s “engage” solutions. Its training platform focuses on retention, operational consistency and brand compliance.
The Hub improves unit communications and collaboration, reduces support costs, and shortens issue resolution time. Among its many features, it provides secure, web-based access to corporate-sanctioned assets in a library, such as operations manuals and marketing materials. The library comes with information retrieval technology that allows for the simultaneous search of multiple resources across all FranConnect modules. It also eliminates the need for multiple logins with a single sign-on for FranConnect and complementary systems, automatically alerting users when relevant new information becomes available.
“It’s the social media network for franchisees,” Gerson says. “They can share best practices, success stories and challenges. It’s also where franchisees go for top industry news, an events calendar and materials from the operations library.”
On the marketing side, FranConnect’s “market” applications address all facets of brand-sponsored programs from email and SMS text campaigns to reputation management and directory listings. Franchisees can use this tool to increase unit revenue by locally promoting their business more effectively and generating more traffic and repeat business – all within brand standards.
“We have an end-customer CRM for the franchisees that gives them the ability to create more customers, who spend more money, more often!” Gerson says. “FranConnect also has an Ad-Builder to create branded and scalable ads and promotions creating brand consistency across the network.”
FranConnect’s “perform” solutions are designed to manage unit performance against objectives and create dashboards to view franchisee performance history. This includes franchisee quality performance, royalty calculations and unit renewals.
“This is the domain for all corporate users,” Gerson says. “It is the heartbeat of the franchise business consulting teams that manage the franchisee portfolio and optimize performance. This includes our Info Manager module, which serves as the system of record for all franchisee contracts, history and records.”
Info Manager is designed to help users proactively manage compliance, share unit status and history across the entire organization. It helps track and report on key records associated with different franchise units and reduces legal and compliance costs.
When it comes to convenience, FranConnect recognizes that many business operators don’t necessarily want to sit in front of a computer or lug around their laptop. That’s why its software is designed for mobility and scalability.
In addition, the software system is built to integrate with Microsoft Outlook, QuickBooks, Gmail and many other systems.
Experience is Key
FranConnect charges an initial set-up fee that covers system configuration and training. After that, there’s a monthly subscription fee. Both fees depend on the size of the franchise and the software package that a franchisor chooses.
“Our franchise customers are growing 44 percent faster than other franchisors that don’t use our software,” Gerson says.
In addition, FranConnect customers have access to a variety of statistics and reports. This year, the company plans to introduce its first franchise operations index report – available to all customers.
“It is a data-driven report based on over 6,000 franchise disclosure documents presented in a fashion that allows them to take action easily by applying the insights based on operation size,” Gerson says.