When your franchisees send regular reports of their financial performance, do you, as the franchisor, receive standardized files that you can easily merge and analyze for system-wide data?

Or does your finance department spend hours (or worse, days) extrapolating financial data from a hodgepodge of reports and rebuilding the data in Excel so you can compare apples to apples?

If the latter scenario sounds uncomfortably familiar to you, consider this:

If the franchises were all required to use the same software, you as the franchisor could offer a prepared data file for each franchisee. Using QuickBooks© as the example file for bookkeeping purposes, your finance department  could set up a data file with a customized chart of accounts, preferred vendors, inventory items and or service items.  There are also custom fields that could be set up in advance to capture information that is unique to your business. Reports could be customized and memorized for future use. The reports could then be grouped and labeled “Monthly Franchise Reports.”

Depending on what you require from your franchisees, you could have the reports sent via Excel or a copy of the QuickBooks file could be sent monthly. If you receive multiple QuickBooks files with the same chart of accounts, the reports can be exported to Excel and compared. Requiring a specific chart of accounts and consistent reports can streamline your review process, enabling you to merge large numbers of reports in just a few minutes.

If a franchisor is using QuickBooks Premier–Accountants Copy, customized financial reports can be designed in the QuickBooks statement writer and generated in Excel. Once the report is designed and saved it can be updated with the click of an icon by refreshing the data from a QuickBooks file. With Excel you then have more flexibility to use QuickBooks data in formulas and have the report updated with current data each time.

As your franchise operation grows, you can easily send updates and new configurations to the franchisees.

Helping your franchisees by providing customized and standardized financial reporting software ultimately helps you, as the franchisor, to stay current on the trends and trouble spots that you need to be aware of.

Submitted by Gina Weinstock, QuickBooks Advanced ProAdvisor, Reilly Business Services, www.GTReilly.com, 617-696-8900.

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