Green Acres is the biggest franchisee operator, per capita, in the world. Over 500 franchisees carry out more than a million 'tasks' a year.
In 2014, CEO, Logan Sears asked Sandfield to help him turn the whole organisation – from head office to each individual franchisee – paperless. Behind the paperless goal lay a set of much greater challenges. The company was growing rapidly and management had lost touch with how their franchisees' did business. The difficulty of monitoring the quality and consistency of franchisees' performance was putting the Green Acres brand, and entire model, at risk.
"We always said we had a database. But what we really had was 70,000 names on 600 pieces of paper scattered across the country."
– Logan Sears, CEO, Green Acres
Green Acres' key motivation was the desire to keep enhancing their service and building their competitive edge in the market. They asked Sandfield to help them empower their franchisees to deliver a better service, while at the same time allowing management a window into the franchise and a two-way communication channel.
Green Acres had some mandates for Sandfield. The new system had to:
Sandfield created ‘Engage’, a user-friendly portal that allows each operator to run his or her Green Acres operation via the web. Engage has become, as Sears puts it, the "space the whole Green Acres journey lives in", whether you're a customer, franchise holder, or potential new franchisee. Engage provides:
Franchisees can complete all tasks required to run their business from a tablet or smart phone. For example, they can access their customer database or financial accounts, read Green Acres news, buy supplies, and contact their area manager or anyone from Green Acres’ team. Once a job is complete they can bill their customer on the spot and receive payment immediately by credit card. Engage provides:
While Engage provides the backbone for each franchisees' business, it also allows the company to monitor and hone Green Acres' service. Head office has a close view of all activity within the organisation, from the one-on-one communication between a franchisee and an area manager to meta data that helps predict market trends or identify areas with growth potential. Information can be viewed through a range of filters and made accessible, as appropriate, at all levels within the organisation.
Engage welcomes potential new franchise owners and creates a franchise sales pipeline. Prospective franchisees can learn all about Green Acres in a way that tracks their increasing degree of interest and activates involvement from Green Acres regional management. Head Office can become involved in the franchise sale as and when they choose. When the sale is made, the portal allows a smooth transition to becoming a fully operational franchise holder through implementation of a well-conceived training programme.
Before the Engage portal was complete, training and education was a time-consuming and costly undertaking. It was paper-based and people-intensive and required Green Acres trainers to travel the country on an annual basis to educate franchisees. Now all training resources are housed online and all training is delivered via the web.
The consistency of service delivery offered across the brands was impossible to achieve prior to Engage. Engage allows the company to develop and maintain a supportive and communicative relationship with its franchisees, which, in turn, allows those franchisees to serve their customers.