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Franchise revenue and growth are alive and well, defying dire predictions that the pandemic would kill business growth. According to Statista, more than 760,000 unique franchise locations exist in the United States alone, generating more than $780 billion in economic output and employing 8 million people.
The most popular of these franchise segments are quick-service restaurants, which generate $250 billion, and include brands such as McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King and Wendy’s. Another highly popular segment is business services, which generate over $100 billion.
As a franchise owner, you naturally want to ensure growth continues so that after riding out the current economic climate, your business comes out stronger than ever. This article looks at five of the best software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions to help franchise owners grow, thrive and even achieve an exit event.
Five best SaaS solutions for franchise owners
SaaS solutions are an essential part of every franchise owner’s toolkit and tech stack. Managing a franchise comes with varying degrees of support and software — often provided by the brand owner — to ensure consistency in marketing, messages and promotions.
Being a franchisor combines the benefits of brand recognition with the flexibility of a small business. But, it also faces the same challenges as small businesses, including finding the best SaaS solutions to run a franchise cost-effectively while ensuring profitability and sustained growth.
Let’s take a look at five crucial SaaS categories — such as back-office, social media and listings management — and dive into the details.
Related: Become a Franchise Owner in 5 Easy Steps
1. Back-office management
Back-office management plays a vital role in managing franchises. Owners usually have a team of managers to oversee daily activities. Managers handle day-to-day tasks like managing staff, coordinating the supply chain, purchasing, stocking, and of course, handling customer service customers.
Operationally, an owner needs a top-level view as well as granular data-driven insights to ensure everything runs smoothly, so growth remains on track. Back-office software covers everything from HR to payroll, customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain, finances to accounting and compliance. Numerous back office management software solutions exist to make all of this work, such as Microsoft’s ERP software, Dynamics 365, FinancialForce and TEAM Software.
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2. Social media management
Social media plays an indispensable role in generating revenue, online bookings and managing customer service. Especially in consumer-centric (B2C) businesses, franchise owners need the best system or range of systems to leverage organic and online marketing.
As everyone knows, there are numerous software options on the market, such as HootSuite, Buffer and Sprout Social. While these might be suitable for some franchise owners, but they don’t necessarily meet the needs of every franchise operation, particularly those with multiple sites.
3. Email marketing
Email marketing is crucial to the marketing and sales funnel for franchise owners. Unless the brand manages it centrally, franchise owners usually control their customer databases. By providing data with the customer’s consent, you can accumulate a valuable customer database.
Once you’ve got a database, email marketing solutions — such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, HubSpot and numerous others — offer the ability to launch email campaigns. Ignoring this marketing channel is a business killer, so choosing the best fit solution should be a priority.
4. Listings management
Listings management is a software segment that assists franchise owners in realizing online marketing advantages from positive in-store experiences. When customers have a good experience, they leave positive reviews. Even negative reviews, when managed proactively, can generate a positive customer experience. By demonstrating to customers that a business will do everything possible to solve customer service problems and learn from mistakes, new potential customers see the level of dedication a franchise has to customer satisfaction.
Numerous listing management software solutions — such as Yext, Uberall, Semrush, Reputation and Thryv — make it easier for franchise owners to manage online reputations.
5. Head-office management
Similar to back-office management, head-office management software solutions keep operational processes running smoothly. These solutions are particularly beneficial when franchise owners have dozens or hundreds of sites in their portfolio and a team of managers overseeing each geographic area.
Related: How to Successfully Turn Your Business into a Franchise
Being a franchise owner isn’t easy. But, it is rewarding and can be highly profitable if you pick the right brand, the right location(s) and use the most effective SaaS solutions on the market to drive growth.