Franchise Update Magazine Issue II, 2017 - Page 45

CHOOSING TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS BY SARA WYKES HOW 10 BRANDS UPPED THEIR TECH GAME C raig Ceccanti could be the Clark Kent of franchise soft- ware development. Beneath his everyday garb as CEO and co-founder of Pinot’s Palette lies his hidden superpower: a double major degree from LSU in computer science and information systems, strengthened by seven years as a software developer for major clients, including the Florida House of Representatives. When Ceccanti wants to build or up- date the software at Pinot’s Palette, he and Charles Willis—Pinot’s co-founder and president, as well as an electrical and computer engineering major in col- lege—do it in-house. Craig Ceccanti Yet that’s not what he recommends for 90 percent of his colleagues in fran- chising. Ceccanti coaches some of those colleagues and his advice is simple: If the choice is between building or rent- ing software, rent. “Most people don’t understand the full cost of buying,” he says. “But to be successful whether you build or rent, you need to have some core competencies in technology.” Without that, navigating the addi- tion of new technology for a franchise operation can seem like moving to a new town without friends or family. It’s an unfamiliar landscape that, fortunately, can be transformed with smart decisions to help avoid dead-end streets and pot- holes. It’s not easy or simple, but without exception, adding new technology to franchise operations is worth the effort. Painful first steps If Ceccanti’s story represents perfect circumstances, Ron Holt’s tale is the imperfect followed by a grand recovery. Holt, CEO and founder of Two Maids & A Mop, wanted to give his residen- tial cleaning customers the speed and convenience of online scheduling and payment. Holt was not a complete technology novice. He had already embraced the use of Facebook, Instagram, and Pin- terest. The feedback from those social media platforms allowed him to evalu- ate traffic from those sites and follow a customer from first social media visit to appointment. He wanted more, but had few other industry-specific examples to follow. “The residential cleaning industry is 90 percent mom-and-pop, so there’s been very little technological innova- tion. I saw the opportunity to create new technology that would give our business Ron Holt an advantage,” he says. To build the new software, Holt chose a firm about two blocks from his office. “We felt it would be important to work with a local firm because we as- sumed there would be hours and hours of face time needed to complete the project,” he says. That assumption turned out to be wrong: Holt discovered that 95 percent of his communication with the firm could be done online. He also learned that he had gone into the project with his “eyes not quite open,” he says. “I am not a software guy and I was naive early on about what the project would entail. I assumed there would be some flexibility with the contract,” he says. “That naiveté turned into realism very quickly. We were billed for our time beyond what we thought would be our cost.” The software delivered to Holt from the outside vendor took 18 months instead of the promised six and cost him $500,000, instead of the $150,000 he initially expected. Franchiseupdate I SSUE I I , 2017  43