Running a franchise business is more time-consuming than non-owners realize, and one of the biggest reasons is the amount of time involved in hiring and managing employees. Fortunately, a wide variety of apps and software can help you simplify or automate many of the employee-related tasks that demand a significant amount of your time.

Interviewing prospective employees is one of the most important tasks, but scheduling a mutually convenient time and having to be at a specific location for the interview can be challenging. Some business owners get around this by using video programs for initial interviews. That way, both interviewer and prospect can participate from anywhere that’s convenient. A prospect’s behavior on a video screen can provide insight into how they’ll interact with customers. While you can use your smartphone’s FaceTime® for this purpose, some employers prefer more sophisticated programs such as Skype® or WebEx®.

Scheduling systems can reduce many of the hassles involved with planning, communicating, and changing employee schedules. Programs such as 7shifts®, Deputy®, and Shiftboard® automate the scheduling process. Some systems help owners balance hours among employees and call attention to unnecessary overtime. Others allow employees to clock in and out, or make requests for days off or swap shifts with fellow employees without needing to work through a manager. Your system may even interface with your payroll provider.

Communication programs such as Slack® provide fast, easy ways to share information among employees. For example, Slack resembles a private chat room that allows managers and employees to post and exchange messages. Looking for someone who wants to pick up five hours on Saturday evening? These programs will instantly message everyone on the team and speed their responses. A key advantage of these systems is the archiving of message traffic. That way, if there’s a dispute about something or if one employee is inappropriately messaging another, you’ll have proof that will allow you to document it properly and take action.

Learning software systems can simplify employee training by allowing employees to access training videos, presentations, documents, and simulations online. If your location installs a new piece of equipment, you can post the training materials and send messages to all the employees who need to review them. These systems keep track of who has accessed which content, so you can verify that everyone who should have viewed the new food safety video has watched it.

Analytics programs track and manage key information about what your employees do each day, so you can measure and compare their performance. You may discover that Employee A handles transactions in an average 90 seconds during the lunch rush, while it takes Employee B twice as long. That alerts you that Employee B may need additional training or supervision. Some systems also call attention to potentially fraudulent activities, such as an unusually high number of discounts or refunds.

Workflow management systems such as Kissflow® and Connecteam® can help you analyze how tasks are performed and provide opportunities for improvement. They can also help you make sure you’re following all the steps in processes like employee onboarding.

Which programs and systems are right for your franchise business? That depends largely on your needs and your comfort level. Before you adopt a system, test it thoroughly, and try to connect with another franchise owner who is using it to get a better sense of how well it works. When you find an implement the app or software that’s right for you, you may discover extra free time … or you simply may be able to make better use of the time you have.

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