Small Franchises, Big Software Solutions

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Did you know that one in 12 businesses is a franchise? Small franchises represent a growing market, one that requires many of the same sophisticated tools used by international chains, while catering to a small business owner’s needs and budget.

FranchiseBlast, a software solution developed by Gatineau, Québec-based LavaBlast Software Inc., is filling the void for small franchises like Boomerang Kids. Boomerang Kids — a children’s clothing retail store based in Ottawa, Ontario — needed instant inventory updates, real-time analytics, and flexible purchasing tools to serve its business and empower its franchise owners. With FranchiseBlast’s Intel-powered technology, Boomerang Kids is thriving and looking toward an innovative future.

Instant Data Powers Franchise Owner Decisions

FranchiseBlast software is developed for franchisors with up to 50 locations that do not have in-house resources or IT staff to manage tech for all franchises. “We are building software that puts the powerful tools used by large franchises in the hands of smaller businesses, at a price they can afford,” says LavaBlast President and CEO Jason Kealey. FranchiseBlast uses centralized servers powered by the Intel® Xeon® processor E3 family, allowing franchisors and their franchise owners to access up-to-date information from anywhere, at any time.

Boomerang Kids needed to track daily operations and gather accurate, real-time data on each of its locations. Using FranchiseBlast software, each store can quickly track its pricing, inventory levels, and productivity. “Anyone who has any retail experience understands the power of the data,” says Heather Meek, Boomerang Kids co-owner. She uses the data to supply store owners with constructive feedback to help improve sales and streamline processes.

Empowering Franchise Owners with In-Store Tech

int_Mkr_943_GyuUsingAIO_5600_cmyk.jpgPoint-of-sale computers installed at all Boomerang stores communicate with the FranchiseBlast server, exchanging real-time information on inventory. “The data really helps to focus our take-in and store merchandizing on what is selling,” Meek says. Taking the efficiency one step further, Boomerang Kids installed self-serve kiosks in its stores, with more than 90 percent of its consignment inventory now being dropped off through the kiosks.

For FranchiseBlast, serving clients with reliable equipment is the cornerstone of the business. “We supply [our client’s hardware] so we try to have the most reliable systems,” says Kealey. “Even if there’s an additional cost upfront, you get it back in the end because you are not wasting time repairing defective hardware.” The support team uses desktops powered by the Intel® Core™ i7 processors to assist clients and provide product virtualization before they go live.

Opportunities for Expansion with E-Commerce

Boomerang Kids has grown from two locations to 10, with another on the way. As the business finds success, Meek is looking for new opportunities to bring the business to more people and improve convenience for customers. With FranchiseBlast’s help, Boomerang Kids is piloting online sales with a cloud-based e-commerce solution. FranchiseBlast tracks all items in each store’s inventory and transmits the data in real time to the online store. Meek projects that online sales will reach 10 percent of total revenues within the next six months.

FranchiseBlast is also growing. Kealey projects his own sales to continue to double every year, so he continues to depend on Intel’s reliable, scalable performance. “We can launch a new server in 15 minutes, and we have redundancy built in,” he says. “Our number one criteria is performance.”

Read more about how Boomerang Kids leverages technology here.

Learn more about Intel’s Small Business solutions at intel.com/smallbusiness, and follow @IntelSmallBiz on Twitter for more tips and information.