Five years ago my long-time friend Keely Newman called and asked if I would be interested in helping on the technology side of her new organic fast food restaurant. She was running three already open units that she owned with franchise agreements in place for another 10. Growth was about to explode. Managing three of your own restaurants is very different than being a franchisor for 10 franchisees (at the time). And this number would quickly balloon to 100 franchise agreements.
Before I made a decision about whether to help Keely, I debated three options.
To manage the growth, one option on the table were to hire a software company like FranConnect to help manage the franchise. FranConnect quoted around $5,000 per month for the modules the restaurant company needed — a fairly large price tag for a Franchisor with three units and no royalty revenue yet.
Another option was to piece together a number of different software solution providers from Docusign to Dropbox to banking software and create an unnecessarily complex and expensive web of technologies to manage the franchise. This wouldn’t work. Too many systems means it won’t be used by franchisors or franchisees.
The final option was to build the software ourselves. The upside of this model is that the software will be designed exactly the way we want it to be. The downside is that it could take more time, and the franchise needed help now.
I told Keely I was in, and it was off to the races.
I first built whatever I could on my own. The MVP approach focused on the primary needs of the franchise — essential components that the brand needed like simply providing a single access point for the franchisor, area developers, and franchisees. The users made do with what we had, knowing that down the road we will expand. When the development work expanded beyond what I could build on my own, I built the Zorzees team. After interviewing, hiring, firing, and hiring a number of developers and designers, I found the right cultural fit for the team. Things gelled very well across time zones so that we essentially have around the clock engineering.
Fast forward three years to just before my friend is ready to sell this restaurant concept. She and I make a decision that altered my life. We decided to take the technology we built and spin it up as its own software company. This was no small move. From a technical point of view we still needed to support the current brand, but we now needed a way to spin up new clients quickly and efficiently— something we had never done before.
We took on a 6-week project to support the onboarding of other brands. As the backbone of our MVP, we turned a single WordPress installation into a multisite installation, with each new brand being treated as its own instance of our software. This enabled us to offer a website for each client that leveraged the same data sitting in our operational database. We partitioned every client with its own set of tables, a native function of multisite, ensuring no data sharing between clients and keeping security at the forefront of our efforts. Once complete, Zorzees was born.
Fast forward two more years to today, and in a 5-year journey Zorzees offers a wide breath of software features to help franchisors and franchisees manage the both franchising and unit operations. Here are five important ones:
Timely Royalty Collection
ZORZEES automatically calculates and collects royalties for franchisors so they are paid on time.
Easy Online Onboarding for Franchisees & Staff
Our ZORZEES LMS enables franchisors and franchisees to monitor and track the lesson-by-lesson training in every franchise course. Whether onboarding to become a franchisee, training new employees on Operations, or learning how to sell franchises at the corporate level, learners inside the ZORZEES LMS access university-level online course capabilities — but delivered in an easily digestible micro-learning model.
Digital Distribution of FDDs to Expedite Franchise Sales
Our Franchise Sales CRM — which includes SMS and email drip campaigns — also manage the electronic distribution of FDDs across all 50 states, making it easy to send the right FDD to the right prospect at the right time. It helps reduce risk by preventing the distribution of expired FDDs.
Creating an easy reference system for franchisees and area developers to organize and search files and website links has been critical in keeping our clients literally on the same page. No one is confused about where they find information, because there’s only one place to go.
Trackable Build Out Manager
Franchisors and franchisees collaborate on key milestones in our Build Out Manager to track expected versus actual completion dates. Every item on checklists clarifies responsibilities for the franchisor and the franchisee. There is no misunderstanding of expectations.
These 5 features just scratch the surface of what ZORZEES does for franchisors. Our pay as you grow approach makes it affordable for emerging brands and easy to scale for established brands.
At ZORZEES, we love what we do. We love building software, and we love helping our franchisor clients expand their brands through automation. ZORZEES facilitates their success — your success.
The best is yet to come.