In 2007, Timothy Ferriss published The 4-hour Workweek, giving many executives a look at what it’s like to run a virtual company. In reality, most businesses can’t run remotely on four hours per week. But there are ways to get things done more effectively.
Diane K. Danielson Chief Platform Officer for Sperry Van Ness International Corporation says “Take for example – cloud computing. You might just call it “The Silver Linings Playbook” for franchise businesses looking to go virtual.”
Danielson says cloud computing is no longer a new concept, cloud computing allows companies to break away from the ball and chain of the desktop computer.
She goes on to explain that computer software and data are hosted on a secure server off-site, allowing franchisees and corporate employees to access their business software from a laptop, tablet computer, or smart phone.
An investment in “the cloud” can also help companies trim costs.
She says Sperry Van Ness International Corporation® (SVNIC), a commercial real estate franchisor headquartered in Irvine, Calif. but with locations nationwide, is now using cloud-based infrastructure across its nationwide network of offices.
Using a cloud-based marketing, syndication, and accounting platform, SVNIC enables its network of nationwide brokers to access these crucial systems from anywhere. Technology like Google Apps enables franchisees to sync contacts and calendars across multiple devices, and schedule events with colleagues that sync on all of their calendars. The company also shares marketing templates, reports, and corporate communications via Google Docs, which can be accessed from any device. Even the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system is based in the cloud. Franchises can update information from a call or new lead from anywhere in real-time, and sync with contact databases and a Google calendar. The technology also simplifies communications within individual locations, or between teams of Advisors across the country.
In essence, the cloud allows franchise-based organizations like SVNIC to be "device agnostic"; whether users are on PC or a Mac, iPhone or Android, or a tablet, everyone connected with SVNIC can access the company’s software. The results are greater brand consistency, improved communications across franchise locations, increased productivity and efficiency, and a strong culture of support throughout the organization.
On a local level, franchises can leverage cloud-based technology to cut overhead, attract top talent, increase productivity and create flexible work arrangements. At a corporate level, this opens up the pool of potential new franchisees as entrepreneurs are freed up to operate on lower front-end costs by making office leases unnecessary. Many are able to work out of shared office spaces, their homes, and even their favorite coffee shops. For real estate advisors on the go, a handheld device can provide instant access to property listings and contact information on prospective buyers.
Working from the cloud can make work easier – but is not without its challenges when it comes to managing a virtual team. Cloud-based project management systems, and file-sharing programs such as www.dropbox.com that allow an employer to share files seamlessly with the entire group, can make it easier. As an added benefit, franchises can recruit team members based on skills and ability to produce rather than schedule and proximity to the office.
Her final point: “Want to take your business to the next level? Then it’s time to get your head in the clouds.”
Diane K. Danielson is the Chief Platform Officer for Sperry Van Ness International Corporation. To learn more, please visit: http://www.svn.com.