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This article excerpt, by Microsoft Case Studies Staff, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1igMTmI
California-based Menchie’s, a frozen yogurt chain, needed better business productivity tools to enable its global growth plans. It replaced unreliable email and chat solutions with Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based messaging and collaboration tools. Now, staff and franchise owners are better connected and working more productively to build the business. Menchie’s expects to recoup its investment in the new business productivity platform in nine months.
Strong Connections in a High-Performing Environment
Menchie’s opened its first store in Los Angeles, Calif., in 2007. The founders, husband-and-wife team Danna and Adam Caldwell, envisioned a frozen yogurt store where people can enjoy a selection of quality frozen yogurt and fresh toppings. In 2010, Menchie’s was the fastest growing food franchise in the United States. Today, it averages five new openings per month globally.
The Menchie’s experience is all about the connections, memories and celebrations that happen inside its stores. The headquarters culture also emphasizes building strong connections between team members. “We embrace our people in everything they do,” says Chief Executive Officer Amit Kleinberger. “This results in a high-performing environment that feels like family.”
Outdated and Unreliable IT Tools
To promote productivity and foster connections among its rapidly growing workforce, Menchie’s needed to upgrade its IT business tools, which did not match the expectations of its tech-savvy team members and franchise owners. As the company grew, an increasing number of mobile staff members needed reliable access to email and documents on their mobile devices. Real estate team members spend most of their time on the road, scouting new locations; quality assurance team members visit stores to ensure they are operating to brand standards; and franchisee relationship leaders act as a liaison between store owners and head office—yet everyone was frustrated with unreliable email and collaboration technologies that impeded business communications, reducing productivity across the company.
“Making connections between Menchie’s headquarters, the franchise community, and our guests is critical to our success,” says Jacob Guttman, IT Manager at Menchie’s. “Yet, we experienced outages with our hosted email solution. Headquarters team members archived their emails locally and when their backups ballooned to 50 gigabytes, they couldn’t open their email—a big headache for me and my two IT team members. Our Java-based internal chat solution had problems with connectivity and presence indication, and it wasn’t connected with our Exchange mail solution so we had to manually manage a separate contact list.”
Menchie’s franchisees used personal email accounts hosted on a server that was rapidly reaching its capacity. As more accounts became compromised and sent out unsolicited emails, the server’s IP address was often blacklisted, causing service outages. Franchisees were frustrated with their poor web mail experience and low inbox quota. “Menchie’s franchisees are our lifeblood. It’s our responsibility to make their experience as store owners the best it can be,” says Guttman. “The same goes for delivering a superior work experience for our team members.”
Unified Cloud-Based Productivity Tools
Guttman chose Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based messaging and collaboration tools as the company’s new business productivity platform. Menchie’s team members and franchisees can use Office 365 to access and share email, calendars, and documents on a range of mobile devices, wherever they have Internet access. Menchie’s worked with Cal Net Technology Group to migrate to Office 365.
“Office 365 is easy to use and enables cost-effective scalability and simplified IT administration in one solution that works with Windows Phones, iOS, Android, and Blackberry,” says Guttman. “Messaging, collaboration, and presence awareness capabilities are rolled into the Microsoft Office programs that we use every day. Outlook Web App is a landing page for email, calendaring, online document storage with OneDrive for Business, and team sites within SharePoint Online. And with Lync Online, you can see a person’s presence status and initiate a phone call, chat session, or videoconference, all from your inbox. Everyone was thrilled with how easy it is to use Office 365 to maintain those critical business connections across the company.”
Today, quality assurance team members have a mobile office at their fingertips. They can store, access, and edit their reports online using OneDrive for Business and share them with franchisees, the head office, and colleagues using online team sites.
“At Menchie’s, our real estate team uses Office 365 to help research the best real-estate options for interested franchisees,” says Guttman. “Now they are providing information on the fly and delivering more responsive service by using Lync Online to set up virtual meetings on their mobile devices with franchisees and REALTORS®. They can also retrieve and share market research, maps, and other information using their smartphones.”
Taking advantage of flexible licensing options, Menchie’s headquarters team members are assigned the full suite of services, while franchisees rely on a robust web mail experience. “We saved on subscription fees and deployed the business tools that our team members and franchisees need,” says Guttman. “We don’t need a BlackBerry Enterprise Server or a third-party chat solution. With the consolidated services that we get with Office 365, we expect to achieve payback on our investment in nine months.”
Streamlined IT Administration
Because Exchange Online offers 50 gigabytes of mailbox storage and online archiving, IT team members are saving three hours a week on fewer helpdesk calls. “Simplified administration of a unified distribution list saves us an hour a day,” says Guttman. “Our headquarters team members use Office 365 ProPlus to download the latest version of Office on up to five devices. This is a simple, cost-effective way to standardize on the latest Office software.”
A Platform for Growth
By spending less on business tools and IT labor, Menchie’s can allocate more money to strategic initiatives to grow its business. “Menchie’s is an experience-based company,” says Guttman. “Office 365 helps us to deliver a fun, productive work environment, driving team members and franchisees to create the same great experience for guests at every Menchie’s store. That’s good for business!”