How to Shop for Chain Management Software
Posted on 1st October 2014 by Valorie Reavis
It’s the age-old issue. You go to the supermarket to pick up a loaf of bread and you come out after spending $50. No, the cost of bread didn’t go up, you just got distracted. We all do it, don’t feel bad.
It’s easy to get distracted in a crowded marketplace where the latest gadget and wizzy-wig that sparkles can sway you from focusing in on what really matters – a system that will truly satisfy your needs. When researching the right software partner for your growing franchise or chain of stores, this is a chronic problem. There are so many features and functions available to you, you may not know where to start.
Just as budgeting experts suggest making a list before you set foot in a grocery store, starting with a list of requirements will help you zero in on getting your essential needs met. Here is a list of considerations to get you started.
One of the biggest headaches for your operations team (especially as you grow) is making changes at each location. Not only do you have to train the staff, organize communications and notify each department, you also have to update your systems. Things as simple as changing the price of a service or adding a retail item can become a logistical nightmare. Check what things you can control from head office to make life easier for your operations team. They’ll appreciate you thinking of them.
It may sound like a basic concept, but not all software systems allow for things like using gift cards in multiple locations. If it’s purchased in one salon, but used in another, how does that affect your accounts? Minor details can make the biggest issues in a multi-site business, so exploring how data is collected and shared across the group is imperative.
Think about how clients will book across your locations, how client records are shared between locations and how you can deploy marketing programs like loyalty points. Making sure this information is shared will help create a seamless experience for clients regardless of the location they visit.
As well as the functionality of your head office system, it’s essential to consider how simple the software will be for your staff to use and train on in the stores. Basic data entry must be easy to do, otherwise it hinders your ability to do all the fancy reporting and marketing you want to do to grow your business.
Also consider that not all of your locations will have the same type of connectivity and support services available to them. As you will be supporting, or coordinating, technical issues make sure you consider the reliability of your system. Not being able to check someone out after a service can become a real problem, so stability and reliability of your core systems is crucial.
Yes, we know you are buying software, but no system works magic without the right people behind it. Both your staff and the tech guys you partner with. One of the major pitfalls of implementing software in a multi-site organization is not having the proper planning and procedures in place to make the system successful. Make sure you discuss best practices for rolling out your new program and also consider costs for setup and training for all your users. Be sure to discuss support expectations and costs upfront with any provider to avoid getting caught off-guard by unexpected fees down the track.
After you’ve covered off these basics, have fun exploring all the amazing new capabilities of technology. Sit back, watch a demonstration and prepare to be wowed.