Moving your franchise business phone system to the cloud can increase employee productivity, improve customer service, and lower IT costs. Imagine a phone system that lets you change your system's outgoing message within minutes, not days; easily add and tie multiple stores or restaurants together; and enable field agents to use their business numbers to call and text customers from their smartphones.
All of this is possible in the cloud. Yet, most franchise businesses have not yet experienced these benefits. Many still rely on legacy on-premise business phone systems commonly referred to as a PBX (public branch exchange). These systems are designed for a 1990s work environment when employees came into the office every day; used desktops, not laptops; and made calls using desk phones, not mobile devices. And work communication stopped when they went home for the day.
A cloud business phone system is designed for the way companies work today, not yesterday. It keeps employees connected to customers and colleagues wherever they are working, on whatever device they are using, including smartphones, tablets, computers, and desk phones. It provides advanced phone, fax, and text messaging capabilities as well as core phone system features such as on-hold message and music, auto-receptionist, employee and department extensions, voicemail with email notification, and call auto-recording. It's easy to set up and manage via the web and mobile devices.
For franchise businesses with multiple locations, a cloud phone solution enables them to keep employees in multiple stores connected to customers and each other within the same phone system. With the traditional on-premise phone system it's not possible to tie together multiple locations, and it takes weeks, not minutes, to scale when you add a new store or restaurant.
Before moving to the cloud, Gator Apple had an on-premise phone system for each of its 42 Applebee's throughout Georgia and Florida. These independent systems did not enable call transfers between locations. And with each restaurant on a different phone system, Gator Apple's controller had the time-consuming task of deciphering and paying 42 different phone bills each month.
Once Gator Apple switched to a cloud phone system, not only did they save time by having only one phone bill to pay, they also were able to tie all locations together within one phone system. According to Maureen Jackson, Gator Apple's controller: "Every phone is on the same phone system so we can seamlessly transfer calls between stores. And as our business grows we can easily add new lines and extensions. It's easy to train new employees and convenient as we don't have to worry about installing a complex, expensive PBX whenever we want to open a new restaurant."
A cloud solution can also integrate with mobile devices. This means that if a franchise owner is out of the office, they don't have to miss out on potential business since they can still make and receive work calls using their main business number on their mobile device. For franchise businesses with field agents, this means that the agents can call and text customers on their way to a service call using the company's business number on their personal mobile device without revealing their personal mobile identity.
The text messaging feature can also be used by restaurant franchisees to enable customers to text the host to reserve a table, or by stores to enable customers to text them to see if a product is in stock.
Unlike a traditional PBX, a cloud phone system doesn't require users to invest tens thousands of dollars in up-front hardware and installation. Franchise businesses generally save 50 to 60 percent in the first year compared with an on-premise PBX. They also save on ongoing operating expenditures, as a cloud solution is affordable at about $25 a month per user. For many, this equates to thousands of dollars in monthly savings. Jackson from Gator Apple said that a cloud phone solution "helped us cut operational costs by $7,000 a month and reallocate those dollars toward advertising for more business and promoting our stores."
Switching to a cloud-based solution also saves franchise businesses time. It doesn't require a specialized IT background nor take weeks to install. You can be up and running within minutes of activating the account, and not days as with an on-premise PBX. You can also empower employees to manage their own phone system preferences without involving IT.
It's hard to ignore the benefits of moving your phone system to the cloud. For franchise businesses that make the move, they will gain a competitive edge with improved employee productivity, better customer service, and lower IT costs.
Bonnie Lam is senior director of the franchise channel at RingCentral, a pioneer and leading provider of cloud business communication solutions. Contact her and RingCentral at Bonniel@ringcentral.com or 800-378-8110.
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