Solving the biggest booking system pain points for multi-location businesses

When it comes to software used by businesses with multiple locations, few solutions are more integral to the success of the business than the chosen booking and management software – and it goes without saying that a solution that doesn’t quite fit, or worse still doesn’t quite work can be a huge hindrance to the business.

Why is this?

Well, there are a few reasons in our opinion – it’s the solution used by you that your customers come into contact with most, from bookings, check in, emails, self service menus (if applicable) and so forth. Additionally, the larger your business becomes, the more important it is that the software used is able to provide enough data for you to fully understand your business when it comes to reporting & analytics.

We work with, and speak with, a lot of multiple location businesses. So we’ve come to understand a lot of the pain points that businesses like yours face on a daily basis, and collated a few ways solutions can help get rid of them. Let’s start with possibly the most common one we hear about.

Having to update each location one by one

From speaking to customers and prospects who’ve utilised alternative booking solutions in the past, one of, if not the biggest bugbears we hear the most is how painful it can be to update each location one by one.

Let’s consider you have 40 locations, and want to introduce a new product to your booking system that you’re rolling out to every location, if you need to login to each location and do that you could potentially be looking at a few days spent doing a task that should take no longer than 30 minutes, with it uploaded to a master database and then pushed out to all or select locations.

It isn’t just products which you should be able to update across all locations, additionally if you update any terms and conditions, group pricing, promotions, gift cards and so forth, then you should have the ability to update across locations from one spot, saving your business one of the most valuable commodities available – time. 

Lack Of Integrations or Non Open API

Businesses with multiple locations are more likely to utilise different software to carry out tasks throughout the business, from your marketing platform to your finance solutions, which makes complete sense considering bigger businesses have bigger needs.

An issue we often find larger businesses encounter is that their booking & management solution doesn’t integrate with many of the other pieces of software they use, and also lacks an open API to allow for more bespoke, custom integrations.

What makes this a pain point for businesses is that they then have to carry out the manual work that an integration could do – such as data entry, exporting data from a CRM to a marketing platform and so forth.

With an integrated system this becomes a non issue – take a look at how the cycle below could work with integrations across software solutions.

A customer makes a booking through your website, sending the details straight into your CRM, which is already integrated with your email marketing provider, adding them straight onto the database for marketing. With the payment for their booking, this will then push straight through into your accountancy software – creating a fully integrated journey, with all of your software speaking to each other.

Mixed, or Lack Of Reporting & Analytics

One of the most concerning things for us most when speaking to multi-location businesses is when they use a mix of booking and management software across their locations. Typically, this is more often seen in franchise businesses, where franchisees have a say in which software they choose to use.

However, this proposes a few problems for businesses in our eyes:

  1. Whilst you may be able to view all financial information from your franchises you’re missing out on key data relating to performance of locations, such as revisitaton rate, which can be time consuming to extract and get from each one.
  2. You cannot have one login to a dashboard, which gives you a complete insight into your business performance from one place.
  3. Different booking & management solutions may offer different types of reporting, meaning data cannot be consistent across locations.

However, if you have one solution for all locations, and assuming the chosen platform isn’t selfish with its data (something to watch for as not all systems allow you to access all data around your business, in our previous experience of owning a trampoline park business) – then you can get detailed reporting and analytics on your whole business, from one location.

This data can then be used across departments to improve business performance – from marketing utilising data to plan campaigns, operations deciding on how best to staff the business as well as determine the best food and drink offerings and much more.

Insufficient Support

With any software, or well basically anything in life, you’ll run into moments where you have an issue or need to ask a question – even for a single location business, it’s absolutely essential they have that support there when they need it, and even more so with multi-location businesses.

So what makes a good support offering for a business like the one you work in?

  • A well written, easy to navigate support centre – This should provide you with answers to the most common questions around your chosen booking and management solution, as well easy to follow video tutorials.
  • A phone number – How frustrating is it when you need to speak to a business and they don’t have a phone number listed? We’ve all been there, and we all hate it. If your booking and management solution provider doesn’t have a phone number listed for support on their website, that’s a big red flag.
  • A good Service-level agreement (SLA) – An SLA underpins the expectations of what you as a customer should expect support wise from your chosen booking and management vendor. A good SLA will outline clear guidance on the priority level classification of cases, the turnaround time on cases and so forth.

If you don’t have the level of support required for your business then when you do have questions or issues, then you’re left in frustration that there’s no easy way to find an answer and you can’t get hold of anyone at your solution provider.

Promotions / Gift Cards

If you introduce a promotion to your business, more often than not you’ll want this to apply to all of your locations – similarly, gift cards should work cross all locations, as your gift cards could make the perfect present wherever the recipient is based in the world.

The pain point here is when it isn’t possible to apply promotions or gift cards to all venues, again making it a tremendously time consuming task to apply all of the necessary details to each location – then on the flipside, you may want to give more control to each location so that they can run their own local promotions.

So in conclusion when it comes to the promotions and gift cards you offer, having the ability to mass apply or grant access at local level is key in ensuring that you can continue to drive a successful business across all locations, and increase footfall.

Legalities across countries

Working with and speaking with businesses who operate locations across different countries, and sometimes different continents is that any solution that’s introduced has to be compliant with any regional legislation.

From your perspective, it’s important that any prospective supplier you’re looking to work with understands the compliance laws and any additional legal requirements for software usage in your region – because it’ll be you that get hits with the fine if they don’t, not the supplier.

So how can you safeguard against this?

Speak to your supplier, ensure that they’re aware of what they need to have in place from a legality standpoint and they fully understand the importance, and consequences, if you as a business are not compliant.

Looking at an example relating to payment gateways, some regions will only have access to certain payment gateway providers – does your chosen supplier have the ability to work with these currently, or are they prepared to build a customer integration for your business?

Flexibility

Last, but certainly not least, a lack of flexibility in your software can have a huge impact on your business and as it plans to grow.

When considering what the flexibility of your software can encompass, the below are things we encourage businesses to consider:

  • Can you turn on and turn off permission by location, giving you ultimate flexibility for permissions throughout the business.
  • Can features be turned on or off per location, for example if only a few locations offer memberships can those that don’t not have this feature accessible?
  • Does the platform continue to grow and offer new features, and subsequent benefits, to you as a business?
  • Are there multiple implementation methods that suit you as a business, for example if you love getting stuck into an installation can you install the software yourself? Alternatively, can the provider do a full installation for you, so you can focus on other aspects of the business?
  • Is there the opportunity to purchase additional levels of support, such as an account manager?

Of course there will also be situations unique to your business that require an element of flexibility, so it’s essential that the provider you choose to work with can fit your current needs and plans for growth – also, are they open to new ideas and feedback from customers, for example look out for feature request options.

Whilst this list isn’t exhaustive we hope it gives you some solutions to some of the most common pain points multi-location businesses experience.

If you’d like to find out more about how BookNow Software works with businesses exactly like yours to ensure these problems become a thing of the past, just fill out the form below and one of our helpful team will be in touch.

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