Franchise Payments Network and its sister company POLN8 want to make life easier for franchises by standardizing their payment systems and upgrading their loyalty programs, respectively.
Started by CEO Tom Epstein in 2006, Franchise Payments Network (FPN) works with nearly 200 franchise brands across the United States, Canada and internationally in 26 countries.
POLN8, which used to be known as FPN Loyalty, is a comprehensive loyalty program that gives franchisees a way to actually track the value each customer brings to them.
Both have been specifically designed for franchises.
FPN helps franchisors with all kinds of finances, like collecting royalty and marketing fees from their franchisees, dealing with ATM machine fees and automated clearing house transactions. But, their main focus is on payment processing for entire franchises.
Through their partnerships, FPN secures the best payment processing rates for the entire franchise by dealing with the franchise as a whole. This standardizes systems for all franchisees, reducing costs and increasing efficiency across the entire system.
“We aggregate the volume of all the franchisees in a chain in order to get them a much better rate on their processing,” Epstein said during a recent interview with Franchising Magazine. “We formatted our payment processing company in much the same way that a franchisor formats the delivery of their services to customers.”
Having the payment processing system uniform across the entire franchise means all franchisees are paying the same rate and using the same hardware rather than each franchisee having something different.
This makes it easy for both the franchisor and the franchisees to understand the payment processing system and how much they’re going to pay throughout all locations.
If a franchisor doesn’t have a system like FPN in place and each individual franchisee is using a different payment processing system, they’ll end up paying different rates across the board and that makes it difficult for the franchisor to help their franchisees control costs, Epstein explained.
Better customer service
Aside from getting the best rate for all locations and having the same payment processing system throughout the entire franchise, another advantage FPN brings is its customer service.
If individual franchisees are getting their payment processing systems from a bank, for example, and they call that bank to help them troubleshoot something with the system, the customer services representative will likely not know anything about the business.
But, if the franchisee uses FPN and they call customer service, the FPN representative will know everything about that business because FPN doesn’t outsource their customer service. FPN will know what system the business is using, what the business does, and anything else they need to help that franchisee with their issue.
The FPN representative knows that a franchisee based in Florida is going to have the same payment processing system as a franchisee of that same franchise who is based in California.
And, because of their strong relationships with their vendors, Epstein noted, if the FPN representative cannot directly help the franchisee, they can easily connect with someone from the vendor’s company to help the franchisee.
“We already know what point of sale you’re on, Epstein said. “We already know who the provider for the point of sale is so if there is a problem we can talk with them. We have a relationship with them.”
Because they only work with franchises, FPN knows how franchises operate and knows how to deal with them specifically.
FPN had been managing loyalty programs for franchises for about 10 years under FPN Loyalty. About two years ago, Epstein spun FPN Loyalty off into its own company called POLN8, named so because it turns customers into bees that “pollinate” franchises and facilitate their growth through the recommendations they make to their friends and family.
POLN8 focuses on three metrics:
Increasing ticket lift
Increasing frequency of visits
Using the POLN8 platform, the company can track how many other people a customer recommends to a franchise location, how much money a customer spends at a location (and even what they buy, sometimes) and how frequently that customer visits the location.
POLN8 can either be used with a completely franchise-branded app or without the app, in which case communication is sent to customers via texts and emails. Each loyalty program is tailored to the specific franchise it serves.
The program facilitates recommendations by providing customers with messages they can share on their social media to entice their peers to visit. This way, it can track which customers are sharing the recommendation and how many people they end up bringing in, putting an actual dollar value on that customer’s recommendations.
It concentrates on ticket lift (or upselling) by offering customers deals so they spend more when they come in. Epstein and his team have found that across their stable of clients, customers who are in the franchise’s loyalty program are spending 17 percent more than customers who are not in the loyalty program.
To increase frequency of visits, the POLN8 system can send out automated “miss you” messages with deals to customers if they haven’t come into the franchise location in a given amount of time. For example, if a customer hasn’t come into a location in four weeks, the system can send that customer an automatic message saying they are missed and giving them $5 off their next purchase.
Another way POLN8 can help bump up the frequency of visits is by allowing customers to pre-load money onto the franchise specific app. Since customers have already put that money onto the app, there is a much better chance that the customer will come into that franchise because the money has essentially already been earmarked to spend at that business.
All of these activities are tracked in the POLN8 system, letting franchises know which deals customers are taking advantage of, how many other people they bring into the location and how often customers are visiting. Being able to put a dollar value on customers’ loyalty makes POLN8 stand out among loyalty programs.
Together, FPN and POLN8 have been specifically engineered to serve franchises and their needs. Epstein, who spent 15 years with one of the biggest payment processing companies in the world before he founded FPN, saw a niche with franchises and knew they had specific needs that other companies simply weren’t addressing.
A franchisee himself, Epstein realized the unique business model of franchises required an equally unique approach to payment processing and loyalty programs.
Between Franchise Payment Network and POLN8, franchises can now utilize the services of a payment processing and loyalty system designed specifically for them.