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How to Find the Best CRM for Your Franchise Find the software that will keep you -- and your customers -- happy.

By Hayden Field

This story appears in the October 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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1. Prioritize Ease of Use -- for Yourself and Customers

From Dan Tyre, sales director at HubSpot, a CRM provider

In 2019, every company has to be a technology company. It doesn't matter if you're a franchise, a small business, or a nonprofit -- buyers expect you to provide good service, and to do that, you need to have access to information. Five years ago, if you wanted to use customer relationship management software, it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and was time-consuming to install. Now, in a modern CRM, you're looking for software that's cost-­effective, quick to install, and straightforward to manage. It's a red flag if you have to have an administrator set things up; that might mean it's too difficult to use. You're also looking for some critically important attributes that help integrate the sales and marketing processes into one. That's a huge advantage for franchisees. In today's world, it's all about "smarketing' -- salespeople market, and marketers sell, so if your CRM isn't easily integrated with your marketing packet, it can get a little gnarly. Two features to ask about [if your company is in sales]: lead intelligence and lead notifications. That means if you're a customer, every time you visit the website, I know you're there, and the CRM notifies me as a business owner when you're on certain pages, so I can rise like a genie from the keyboard and chat with you. Think: "I saw you're on the pricing page -- what are you looking for help with?' "

Related: Don't Upgrade Your Enterprise CRM Until You've Reached These Milestones

2. What to Ask About

From Dustin King, franchisee, Auntie Anne's

King owns 30 Auntie Anne's franchise locations across the Southeastern U.S., along with a number of other snack food franchises. He committed to using CRM software Zignyl two years ago after considering its…

1) Time-cost savings.

Calculate how much time a product is saving compared to its cost. "If I can save my manager three to four hours a week and she's making $15 an hour, then it's a no-brainer to spend $99 a month," says King. "Now my manager is focused on driving sales, catering, recruiting, and training -- and not spending time on things that can be automated."

2) Communication.

Zignyl has dedicated customer service reps, so if King needs something, such as a password reset or additional access to a certain level of the platform, they respond that day -- often within five or 10 minutes.

3) Test-drive.

Zignyl allowed him to test its software before committing. "If they're not willing to give you a 30-, 60-, or 90-day test, then I'd be concerned," he says. "If the software is great, they should have no problem allowing you to test that and see."

Related: How Franchises Can Find the Right Technology Partners and CRMs

3. Unexpected Success

From Dan Sage, director of technology/CIO, Handyman Connection

What he expected: In 2013, Sage began working with NuSoft Solutions, a CRM now owned by Avtex, to identify new business. He'd had difficulty analyzing customer data before, and didn't expect much.

What he got: Sage knew repeat customers were important, but he didn't know how important until he saw the numbers. If a Handyman Connection franchisee went door-to-door making job requests for 100 new customers, the success ratio would be around 40 percent. If they approached 100 former customers, the ratio would jump to 90 percent. The CRM's data analysis tools helped Sage reevaluate budget dollars being used on customer acquisition versus retention, and increased efficiency by nearly 50 percent.

Hayden Field

Entrepreneur Staff

Associate Editor

Hayden Field is an associate editor at Entrepreneur. She covers technology, business and science. Her work has also appeared in Fortune Magazine, Mashable, Refinery29 and others. 

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