When Allison Henderson decided to open her first franchise twenty years ago, a Coldstone Creamery in Lakewood, Colorado, she relied on traditional forecasting methods to help her plan staffing and operations. She thought the traditional point-of-sale systems would provide her with all of the data she needed in order to staff appropriately, stock inventory, and plan revenues. Although arduous and time-consuming, Henderson had few alternatives.
"I spent hours every month trying to determine our staffing and inventory needs based on what happened last month or last year. I always felt like I was one step behind and I never had the time to look ahead to plan our business sales," she said.
Now, with another franchise under her belt, a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory also in Lakewood, she is a veteran small business owner who names Sales Temperature as a main reason for her continued success. With the improved sales forecasting software, she is able to save time planning for staffing schedules and inventory, which increased her bottom line.
"The time spent managing the staffing and operations was taking away from other responsibilities which was impacting my business and my life," Henderson said. However, with Sales Temperature, she is now able to quickly and easily access a comprehensive forecast that provided her with accurate, reliable data analytics to help her run her business.
"One of the best things about the Sales Temperature application is that it is very easy to use," Henderson continued. Indeed, once a business uploads previous statistical data, everything is automated from that point on with Sales Temperature. There are no mornings spent agonizing over spreadsheets and data logs. Managers simply click on a button that downloads precisely what they need to plan the week ahead.
Small businesses like Cold Stone Creamery franchises are greatly impacted when a business forecast is off even by just a few customers per day. Everything from staffing levels, to ensuring enough product is available to meet expected demand relies on forecasting. After twenty years Henderson believed she knew what the business needed operationally, but after implementing Sales Temperature technology, she learned that even her forecasts based on decades of experience were off compared to the new tool.
"It shocks me how accurate the data is versus what we actually do. Intuitively I know that if it's a snowy day, I'll need less labor, but Sales Temperature provides me with an exact number," Henderson said. "It really helps with those in-between days."
When she opened Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory last year, she said she didn't know what to expect. It was a definite change from selling ice cream, but Sales Temperature gave her the tools she needed to prepare for a successful franchise kick-off, much better than she did with Cold Stone Creamery 20 years ago.
"I was able to really dive into the labor of it quickly, and that gave me the confidence I needed to get started," she said.
The forecasting tool came in handy down the road, too, as product management and stocking inventory was different at the new store. "The forecasting email we get every day from Sales Temperature allows us to prepare better. We can anticipate how much product we'll need, plan for inventory, and control waste," she said. "For someone who's just starting a franchise business, this tool is invaluable."
Henderson especially found Sales Temperature to be effective at fine-tuning her labor costs. In a small business like Henderson's, unnecessary overstaffing can have a big impact on the bottom line, so the tool ensures this doesn't happen. Sales Temperature helps managers staff correctly for the expected sales volume each and every time.
"Using Sales Temperature allowed us to more effectively staff our shop so that we were ready for the big spikes," said Allison. "We are also able to conserve costs when business is slow."