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Franchise Phone System

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Franchise Update – Q2/2009 | Technology That Works
VirtualPBX COO, Greg Brashier contributes an article to Franchise Update’s Technology That Works Section detailing how hosted PBX’s can provide a cost-effective customer service solution.

Do you know how your callers actually find the franchises nearest them? Are you sure that your franchises answer the phone the same way, every time? Can you determine which geographies are rapidily growing and primed for expansion? If you’re unable to answer these questions then your phone system may be costing you up to 50% of your potential clients. With a VirtualPBX phone system you’ll have answers to these questions and more.

VirtualPBX provides a unique solution for franchise owners: a communication network that provides any caller immediate access to their local franchisees. Whether you’ve never considered bundling a telecom solution with your business model or are already paying too much for a system that provides too little, VirtualPBX offers a sophisticated, low-cost solution that may be just what you didn’t know you needed.
Unlike a regular business phone system, we don’t just send callers to an extension or give them a second number that they have to dial to reach a local franchisee. VirtualPBX provides a continuous, consistent presence when callers attempt to reach one of your franchises.

With VirtualPBX as your franchise phone system you get:

  • One nationwide number for your brand
  • The ability to connect calls directly to local franchises
  • Happy callers…
  • And lower costs

VirtualPBX Franchise Phone System Diagram
VirtualPBX Franchise Phone System

Typical business phone systems make franchise-wide, high-touch solutions impossible to implement. All calls must be handled on the corporate level, forcing your potential customers to sift through convoluted phone directories or other telco hoops in order find a local franchisee. Virtual BX immediately changes how your calls are directed. Our customizable system can help you:

  • Maintain service quality across all franchises
  • Deliver your franchise message quickly and effectively
  • Incorporate a dedicated phone system that would cost thousands of dollars at every location for as little as $10 per month to you.

Getting Calls To Your Franchise
So, how does all this work? What does the caller hear? Here’s what the caller might experience on a simple implementation:

  • Callers dial your nationwide toll-free number.
  • Every caller hears a professionally-recorded automated greeting that allows them to enter a zip code, area code, or a custom entry of your choosing.
  • After the caller provides an entry they’re immediately transferred to the franchisee’s virtual PBX system, finding them no matter where they are.
  • When franchisees aren’t available, callers can be sent to voicemail. Messages can be retrieved by phone, through a web portal, or as a WAV file that’s forwarded to an email address.

Since no two franchises are exactly the same, a virtual PBX franchise phone system can be tailored to match your business and customer handling process. You can let your franchisees customize their own greetings and voicemails, or you can configure every franchisee with the same greetings, creating continuity across your entire franchise. You can even utilize both if you need to accommodate different levels of franchisees.

Regardless of your configuration, the complexity of your system is transparent to your callers because virtual PBX franchise phone systems utilize a unique feature called Multi-System SelectRoute™ to transfer your callers directly to local franchisees using several different methods.

Zip Code Routing

Zip codes are an extremely popular way for franchises to organize and provide ownership to certain geographies. The parent franchise determines which franchisees represent a corresponding zip code by creating a simple entry that directs a caller to a particular franchisee’s virtual PBX phone number; each franchisee can even represent more than one zip code. Potential customers that contact the franchise’s nationwide toll-free number are then prompted with an automated greeting. For example:

“Thank you for calling ACME Cogs & Widgets. To be connected to the ACME franchise nearest you, please enter your five-digit zip code.”

Once the caller enters their five-digit zip code the phone system checks for a relevant entry and routes the caller to the franchisee’s respective virtual PBX.

Caller ID Routing

With Caller ID Routing, franchise owners can organize and direct calls to franchisees using the broad geography represented by entire area codes; or by very specific Caller IDs ( 1-###-###-#### ) that facilitate one-to-one contact between customer and franchisee. VirtualPBX Caller ID Routing supports:

  • Area code (1-408)
  • Area code + exchange (1-408-555)
  • Area code + exchange + suffix (1-408-555-1212)
Custom Numeric Code Routing

Franchises owners can also determine how calls are routed based on their own special multi-digit codes. For example:

  • Customer ID (e.g. 3325)
  • Contract Number (e.g. 256897)
  • PIN (e.g. 68574)

Almost immediately, marketing and advertising dollars spent at the franchise level can benefit every franchisee with very little effort. Simply publish your nationwide toll-free number along with a special PIN, ID, or any custom multi-digit number. Once the caller enters the number, they’re directed to the franchisees that choose.

VirtualPBX Franchise Solutions Benefit Your Entire Business
A franchise phone system powered by VirtualPBX is a franchise that is empowered on every level. For the franchisor, the franchisee, and for every customer, benefits are readily visible and easily accessible.

Franchiser Benefits

  • Improved branding – advertise one toll-free number, same sound across entire franchise
  • Save over 90% on phone costs – no need to buy any extra hardware or software
  • Reduce Personnel costs – let the phone system do the work for you
  • Expand quickly into new markets – know exactly how many callers from each zip code or area code
  • Easily measure franchise performance – know exactly how many calls are being sent to each franchise

Franchisee Benefits

  • More calls, increased sales – advertise their own virtual PBX business number, but also get calls from the nationwide toll-free number
  • Full-featured virtual phone system – no need for purchasing large phone system
  • Over 90% personnel cost reduction – let the phone system do the work for you
  • Powerful business metrics – know exactly how many calls came in and from

Customer Benefits

  • Consistent professional handling – same sound, franchise-wide – one toll-free number gets the caller to their local franchise with just the entry of their zip code, area code, or automatic routing based one their phone number
  • Consistent professional handling – same sound, franchise-wide Receive call leads from nationwide number, based on zip code, area code, or a unique code

These benefits are conveyed by providing a streamlined, sophisticated phone service that reaches out to every part of your franchise. And with benefits to the franchisee and customer, not only will you sell more franchises, each one will be more successful.

In addition to providing a single contact point for any interested customer, each individual virtual PBX includes an extensive set of features and immediate benefits including:

The Low Cost, Full-Featured Franchise Phone System
One of best things for a franchisor considering the move to VirtualPBX is the price. No matter what the business model, you and your franchisees are already paying some sort of fees to handle incoming calls. With a virtual PBX you can:

  • Cut down on overhead required at the franchisor level by directing customer calls to your individual franchisees
  • Take out routing costs if you have an on-site PBX that takes calls and sends out long-distance connections to each franchise location
  • Eliminate time and expense involved in purchasing, installing, supporting, and maintaining your own call routing hardware

In fact, with our pricing model, you could have a nationwide toll-free number with routing specific to your franchisees for what you’re currently paying for one business phone line to your office!

After that, each added account, or franchisee, pays for its own fully-featured VirtualPBX service starting at $9.99/month, with an average monthly cost of around $30-45 per month, depending on inbound call volume.

The result? Your franchisees get a fully-featured phone system at a very reasonable cost all connected with minimal capital investment. Almost instantly, you’ve enhanced the your brand, reduced your costs, and simplified your ability to readily expand and capture more geographies.

Why VirtualPBX?
What is it about VirtualPBX that makes us so special? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your franchise telephony decisions:

The Original, Business-Class Hosted Phone System

VirtualPBX invented the hosted phone service industry back in 1997 and has led the industry ever since. There are many service providers that can provide toll-free numbers, others that can provide follow-me calling and voicemail, and still others that provide a PBX-like experience. Only VirtualPBX provides all of these features in one package, along with some that aren’t available anywhere else. We are not a glorified fax or voicemail system. We are the original, business-class hosted phone system.

Solid Foundation

VirtualPBX is privately owned, debt free, and we own our intellectual property. We answer to no one except our customers and ourselves. In increasingly competitive and difficult conditions, this is very unique for a service provider.

All of our employees are based in California. When you call our Sales and Support phone lines, you’re talking to on-site VirtualPBX employees that have a vested interest in your success.

Reliability and Security

VirtualPBX is the only hosted phone service provider that is willing to publicly state and stand behind the 99.999% up-time of our services. We accomplish this through the use of a hardened, co-located facility with redundant sources of power and data transfer. This data center is part of the national infrastructure, so it must abide by a set of strict Federal up-time requirements.

You’ll have the confidence of knowing that your franchise phone system will always be available because we run our business on our own technology. You may want to ask any of our competitors if this is the case with their solution.

Furthermore, we are the only hosted phone service provider that can provide an emergency fail-over, disaster recovery solution for hardware PBX systems. Try doing that with a proprietary VoIP-based solution.

Features You Need

VirtualPBX prides itself on providing the most cost-effective hosted phone service, with just the right amount of features and configuration possibilities. We don’t deluge the customer with flashy, useless features that are hardly ever used. The goal is to provide a phone service that, once configured, gives entrepreneurs more time run their businesses and not their phone system.

Getting Started
A VirtualPBX franchise phone system can be readily customized for your specific business needs. We simply need to know a few things about your specific application. By reviewing and answering the the questions below, we’ll be able to determine the number and configuration of your franchisor and franchisee Virtual PBX systems.
  1. Will the Virtual PBX be your primary phone system?
    VirtualPBX VoIP phone can be your main phone system with extensions for each employee, ACD queues, informational boxes, etc.
    Franchisor: Alternatively, VirtualPBX can just host your advertisement number(s) and direct calls out to the franchisee VirtualPBX systems.
    Franchisee: Virtual PBX can be set up to just receive the calls from the nationwide toll-free number and forward to your desired locations.
  2. What do you want your main auto-attendant greeting to say?
    We’ll do a custom, professional recording for you, or you can provide your own
  3. Do you need a toll-free number?
    A VirtualPBX system can host an unlimited amount of phone numbers. Each phone number can even have its own greeting.
    Franchisor: Are you going to promote a nationwide toll-free number? How about multiple toll-free numbers for different advertisement medias?
    Franchisee: If you do any business outside of your immediately area code, it’s nice to have a toll-free number for customers to call so they don’t have to pay for the call.
  4. Do you want an area code-based number to market locally?
    This would end up being your main business phone number that you put on your collateral, website, business cards, etc. so you can push your local presence.
  5. How many extensions do you need?
    If this is your main phone system, you’ll need an extension for each employee. Mail-only extensions are great for giving information to the caller, such as hours of operation, driving directions, or information about your products and services.
  6. Where do you want the system to dial you at?
    Each virtual PBX extension can route a call to a person at up to four phone numbers for Follow Me Calling. If the system does not find you, the caller can leave voicemail on your virtual PBX extension, which can then be emailed to you.
  7. Do you need any Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) queues and how do you want them to work?
    ACD queues are used to disperse calls to a group of extensions, like Sales, Support, Billing, etc. You may be using this at the franchisor level for call center purposes. However, the franchisees may or may not need this feature.
  8. Do you want the system to take inbound faxes as well?
    Your virtual PBX phone number can also be your fax number. Then you truly have one contact phone number for both voice and fax. Alternatively, to be more traditional, you can add another area code-based phone number to the system and just call that your “fax” number.
  9. What type of Multi-System SelectRoute or AutoRoute mapping do you require?
    This is where you need to decide how you want get callers to their local franchisees: zip code, area code and phone number, a unique multi-digit code, etc. At setup, you can provide VirtualPBX with a spreadsheet of all mappings and we’ll upload them.