Owning a single franchise restaurant involves juggling what feels like dozens of details every day.
When you own multiple locations, those details seem to grow exponentially, so it’s no wonder owners can get overwhelmed. While that can be frustrating, a more significant concern is that when you’re racing from issue to issue, it’s hard to take time to focus on strategic, big-picture issues.
That’s where technology can be a big help. Every year, developers release a variety of free or low-cost software and smartphone apps that help business owners get organized and automate regular tasks so they can take better control of their time.
Organizers Are you the kind of owner that makes notes in multiple places and has trouble finding them when you need them? Do you come up with ideas when visiting one of your locations but forget them five minutes after you leave? An app like Evernote® might be the answer for you. It begins as a note-taking and organizing program. Instead of jotting ideas or messages on scrap paper or post-its, you type them into your phone or computer. Then you can use its capabilities to help you organize, schedule, and access them from any of your devices.
Scheduling A busy day only gets worse when you realize you have to double back for a meeting you forgot. The calendar programs built into your phone or Google® can help, but they’re not always convenient for organizing. That’s where programs like Todoist® can come in handy. It combines the familiar to-do list format with your calendar programs and other applications to help you manage time more efficiently.
Do you find scheduling meetings with location managers and vendors to be frustrating? Apps such as Calendly® and Doodle® take the hassles out of your hands by sharing the times you are available and making it easy for other people to choose from those available times.
Communicating Making phone calls and sending emails to managers and employees can be confusing and time-consuming. That’s where a communications program like Slack® can help. Similar to text messaging or chat rooms, Slack lets you set up specific groups — such as employees of each location, all employees, or just managers — and instantly send messages to just that group. They can also reach you, sending a written message rather than leaving voice mails. Best of all, the messages are archived so you can review them. A similar tool that can also help you manage projects and processes is Basecamp®. Enter the necessary steps, assigns such steps to specific employees, and keeps everyone updated on progress.
Email management You might not think of email as an opportunity for increased productivity, but most business people spend more time reviewing and responding to emails than they realize. There are some simple ways you can reduce this time, starting by only checking your email accounts a few times each day, rather than each time you get a message. Most email accounts will allow you to set up folders, so rather than respond right away, you can put emails in a folder for later responses. Finally, how many newsletters do you receive that you delete without reading? Why not take a moment to unsubscribe from them, so they don’t clog your inbox?
If you want to take control of emails, many programs will help you manage them in less time. For example, Shift® is a desktop app that makes it easy to consolidate multiple email accounts and connect them with other business applications you use regularly. If you sometimes forget to follow up messages, FollowUpThen® will provide a reminder when it’s time to do that. And if you’re overwhelmed by email newsletters, a tool like Unroll.me® makes it easy to unsubscribe.