How a franchise group found a better way to manage cash across three states.

Sponsored by Loomis.

In the age of quick global travel and communication, it may seem like no feat at all for restaurant chains and franchises to conduct business across many different states and regions; however, without the right financial tools, that isn’t always the case. Take Sean O’Brien, CFO of Southern Star Restaurant Group, for example. The group operates a portfolio of 75 Dunkin’ Donuts units in Central Florida and 40 Wendy’s units in Indianapolis, and while the largest corporate office is in Orlando, O’Brien and his finance team are based out of Boston.

“There are direct flights that only take about two hours between Orlando and Indianapolis,” O’Brien says. “And in finance, we don’t really need to be geographically proximate to the stores to do our job, so the distance works for us.”

Until recently, however, cash management issues have made it difficult for O’Brien’s team to manage each store’s finances. When Southern Star Restaurant Group acquired the Wendy’s portfolio, it also inherited its smart safe system. But O’Brien found that the smart safe provider that his team inherited left much to be desired.

“I quickly became disillusioned,” O’Brien says. “The safes would often go offline, and we were not getting credit for money that was inside the safe because it was not communicating with the bank. While I understand that things break, we also got very poor customer service and responsiveness on work orders relating to those down safes. I also didn’t have  software that gave me access to all the information I needed at a quick glance. It was an untenable situation overall.”

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After conducting some research, O’Brien turned to Loomis, which offered a streamlined dashboard that he found helpful. “The Loomis Direct Dashboard is very user-friendly for managing two brands,” he says. “I can pick one brand, and it takes me to a tiled screen where I can see when each store’s last deposit and pickups were made. I can also see when a manager has made a mistake in processing cash because the Loomis software tells me the difference between a manual deposit in the safe and one done according to policy.”

O’Brien says this makes a crucial difference because deposits that are made through the system allow the stores to get credit from their banking partners for cash that is still in the safes. The quick availability of the cash in the bank account has improved the brand’s liquidity and helped with planning.

And while all these benefits and more have had a large impact on the brand’s ability to follow up on training and theft, as well as planning for the future, Loomis’s customer service has been one of the most important features for O’Brien’s team.

“I really appreciated how transparent Loomis was about what they could offer and why it would help, and the product and technology has been every bit as good as promised,” O’Brien says. “Loomis has been quick to help us when there have been problems. They were also willing to advocate for us with our banks on certain pricing aspects. It’s one thing for us to ask our bank for an accommodation, but it’s another to have a strong national vendor standing next to you and advocating the same.”

By Peggy Carouthers

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