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How Franchises Can Find the Right Technology Partners and CRMs One size doesn't fit all. Here's how franchise systems can find the perfect fit -- and prepare their franchises for changes to come.

By Stephanie Schomer

entrepreneur daily

This story appears in the October 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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Working with a technology provider can streamline operations across the entire franchise business. But first, consider your specific needs -- and a potential partner's strengths. Here are three stories.

Related: The Top 10 Franchises You Can Buy for Less Than $100,000

1. Ease Into It!

From Keith Gerson, president and chief customer advocate, FranConnect

When franchisors come to us, we hope they have very specific goals and problems they're trying to solve. We make sure they can prioritize them and understand what tools would be best. We provide different bundles based on needs -- we have one focused on training and team development, for example, and another on field operations -- and it's problematic when franchisors have what I'll call waterfall syndrome, and want to take it all in all at once. That's challenging from an implementation standpoint. You can outstrip the capabilities of a franchise organization by taking on a project of that magnitude.

Don't bite off more than you can chew. Take your time to make the right selection, both in terms of a provider and in terms of what they can help you solve. You really can't afford to get it wrong. Once you get your franchisees exposed to a technology, it's hard to get them to switch to a new platform, even if you originally made a bad choice. The best technology solution is one you use. Whatever the solution is, put the resources behind it to make sure you're effectively training and coaching. You can't just throw it against the wall and hope it sticks.

Related: 4 Mistakes That Will Sink Your Franchise Dreams

2. What I Wish I Knew

From The Melting Pot

When fondue franchise The Melting Pot was shopping for a CRM (customer relationship management system), it was attracted to Salesforce's strong reputation and the level of data and visibility it promised to provide. But, says Mark Newlin, manager of marketing technology for the fondue franchise, he sure wishes he'd known that…

1. There's a lot of up-front work.

You don't just plug in a CRM. The Melting Pot had to untangle a lot of its old systems first. "We had to adapt to their processes and learn their system."

2. Implementation is a heavy lift.

"Strategically, they were the right partner for us. But it was time-consuming to make sure everything was organized and built correctly before going live."

3. Training really matters.

After they were up and running, the franchise led its franchisees through in-depth training. "All that work was worth it," Newlin says.

3. Unexpected Success

From Pure Barre

What it expected

When Pure Barre started working with Mindbody, a CRM focused on the health and wellness industry, it hoped the company could help Pure Barre streamline its studio operations.

Related: The Top 100 Franchises for Less Than $100,000

What it got

The CRM collected and organized so much data, Pure Barre began basing all its studio strategies on it -- from pricing to specific packages it offers customers. That was 10 years ago, but the learnings continue. "We're working to further diagnose the retail aspect of our business and its interplay with our guests' workout behavior," says Zach Bell, director of finance at Pure Barre.

Stephanie Schomer

Entrepreneur Staff

Deputy Editor

Stephanie Schomer is Entrepreneur magazine's deputy editor. She previously worked at Entertainment WeeklyArchitectural Digest and Fast Company. Follow her on Twitter @stephschomer.

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