Food franchise operator, Retail Food Group (RFG International), has almost been a victim of its own success.
RFG has an appetite for growth, commissioning 200 new outlets, including 81 in international markets last financial year. In December 2014, it purchased Gloria Jeans Coffees, which added more than 800 retail shops to its global network of 2,450 stores worldwide.
Up until recently, the recruitment process for domestic franchisees – who invest between $50,000 and $500,000 – was lengthy and time consuming.
In international markets, RFG negotiates agreements to give an organisation the exclusive rights to operate a retail brand in a designated territory – a process that also has several barriers to overcome.
“Our business has grown up pretty quickly – we have adopted in excess of 10 brands and they have all reached different levels of maturity and developed their own ways of working,” Mike Gilbert, managing director, international at RFG told CIO.
Earlier this year, the company decided that it needed to find a way to accelerate and streamline the franchisee recruitment process. It desperately required a digital platform to improve the process for the candidate and business units that are involved in the initial recruitment and training process.
“We simply didn’t have any visibility of the data, where the bottlenecks were, our responsiveness through the recruitment process, and where improvements could be made,” said Gilbert.
“At the executive level, we couldn't see the exact status of every franchisee application. We were in a position where we would have to do a lot of work to get to that point – we could get there, but it was onerous and not as dynamic and fluid as it should have been.”
In February, the company engaged IT consultancy, Tquila ANZ, to deploy Salesforce's Sales Cloud. Lead scoring mechanisms and automatic channelling of leads to appropriate people saves time by replacing an old process of phone calls and emails, said Ian Carpenter, founder at Tquila.
Integration with the DocuSign electronic documentation and workflow system replaces PDFs with a responsive online form that can be accessed on any internet-connected device. Once these forms are filled out and validated, information is merged into an appropriate branded document and sent through for final signature, he said.
Since implementation in April, the company has experienced a 20 per cent reduction in lead conversion time. This includes the internal efficiency gains and reduction in the time it takes for new franchise partners to conduct due diligence.
In FY16, RFG plans to commission a further 250 franchised stores, including 130 in international markets.
Gilbert said the cloud-based CRM solution has provided more transparency around the franchisee recruitment process and brands.
“We are now able to measure every stage of the process … having more visibility around recruitment allows us to actually work out how we can shorten lags between more than a dozen steps in our recruitment process,” he said.
Over time, departments inside the business will be able to visualise and work on areas in the recruitment process that are ineffective and not progressing as quickly as the company would like, Gilbert said.
“We can now baseline the number of days it takes a franchisee to go through that process and we can work on that month-by-month to increase the speed of conversion and move franchisees through the application process,” he said.
The solution also helps the company present a more professional approach to overseas franchisee applicants, Gilbert added.
“It really sets a template for how we want to deal with them and gives us a standard way of assessing the quality of a business and its benefits in terms of revenue to RFG,” he said.
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