How Signarama transformed its marketing with a custom solution

Signarama Gorilla Dash platform
Centralised data, a single login and affordability are all attractive features of the platform. (Source: Supplied)

Evan Foster, global director at UFG, which operates a number of diverse brands worldwide, knows only too well how time-consuming and frustrating it can be to wrangle three or four software platforms to achieve outcomes for franchisees.

Signarama is a flagship brand at UFG, and it was this sign-making retail business that kickstarted what has become an ideal franchise software solution.

Streamlining platforms leads to multiple benefits yet there are challenges specific to franchising that are often overlooked in standard programs.

“We found out-of-the-box platforms didn’t really do what we needed for our franchisees,” says Foster.

“We had three or four platforms that franchisees wouldn’t engage with. Our number one support call was about CMS, with franchisees needing assistance with the software. We don’t get those calls anymore,” he reveals.

Signarama looked to Gorilla Dash for the right platform

Signarama Australia turned to Gorilla Dash for solutions, and the eponymous franchise-specific software platform is a result of the collaboration.

The initial goal was to enable franchisees to more easily manage their own microsites and was then extended with further modules developed to answer specific franchise-related issues.

The success of the project resulted in other brands, and other countries, in the UFG stable adopting the software platforms.

“We now have one platform that can handle almost all the digital marketing for franchisees, and integrates with PoS, providing accurate data, and reporting. It’s transformed the marketing we do,” says Foster.

“It’s made it so much easier for franchisees who can customise their content easily; Gorilla Dash is a pretty intuitive program.

“There are always new features, and that’s the advantage for us with multiple brands operating in different countries.”

Custom features can integrate with enabled software

Gorilla Dash has developed features specific to the various industries that UFG operates in – food, the co-working sector, and business services. These features remain disparate and yet integrate with other enabled software.

For instance, one application that is crucial yet of value solely to the Graze Craze catering brand introduced to Australia last year is the ability to schedule delivery times for its hospitality platters. Similarly, at Fully Promoted branded stores require software that enables clients to place repeat orders.

Other vital elements are brand-agnostic.

“Location search is critical for our brands,” says Foster. “The nature of our business is directing customers to the franchisee they should deal with. This had been a massive source of frustration but we now have quite an elegant solution that is fairly equitable.”

The solution has significantly boosted franchisee engagement in social media, enabling franchisees to simultaneously distribute one post to five social channels.

“This has given franchisees the opportunity to do so much more, seamlessly,” says Foster.

A single point of truth for data

UFG brands are heavy users of email marketing platforms, and the benefit of integration with PoS is immense, he adds.

“We have one single point of truth for our data now. Before we had a PoS database and marketing database and it was time consuming and messy to export and import data.

“Because the software interfaces with the other platforms we know we are working with the most recent data.”

At a franchisor level the Gorilla Dash solutions have delivered vastly improved oversight of the business, Foster says.

“It is very easy to manage our network marketing. We can push out information on behalf of our franchisees, and they have complete flexibility to do their own marketing as well.

“We can view reports, measure campaigns, run competitions – it is all so much more efficient and it has made our lives so much easier,” Foster says.

Understanding the dynamics of franchising

Anthony Gherghetta, lead developer at Gorilla Dash, believes software platforms often overlook the peculiarities of a franchising system and its competing requirements of disparate and cohesive solutions.

“At Gorilla Dash we understand the dynamics of franchising – one brand and many individual businesses. So our foundation is modular. User management logins are the foundation, and we build applications on top of this. The platforms accommodate multiple locations for franchisees on a tier beneath.”

Gorilla Dash takes a customised approach to building client-focused platforms based around a client’s current tech stacks, and their preferences for particular features. The resulting solution builds integrations with software such as PoS and business management platforms and incorporates these into Gorilla Dash.

Customised features include tailoring software for franchisees with co-branded locations, and for master franchisees to operate with more oversight than an individual franchisee requires.

If online commerce is part of the platform there are alternate transaction processes to consider – whether there is a central payments gateway or each transaction is processed at franchisee level.

“If the latter, we have to set up merchant accounts for each franchise,” explains Gherghetta.

Signarama and Gorilla Dash collaborated on the platform

“We have a development team working on generating relevant applications and in response to customer requirements. We road map plan out each quarter: onboarding, bug fixing, and creating new features. A lot of the pipeline is driven by the needs of customers.”

Gorilla Dash has an openAI approach that enables external developers to write modules within the platform.

The software can also connect to corporate websites.

Centralised data, a single login and affordability are all attractive features of the platform.

“If you think about three or four different programs – covering reputation management, email marketing for instance – the cost to the franchisee of running these could be more than one month with Gorilla Dash,” points out Foster.

“We’ve had four to five years dedicated to this product,” says Gherghetta. “That’s the best way to build because we have built in practice with a franchisor. We’ve had pain points shared so it has resulted in a much better product.

“This is a really powerful toolkit for the franchise world,” says Gherghetta.

Find out more about Gorilla Dash here.