Wendy's scoops up savings on messaging

Wendy's, the ice cream seller with a turnover of about $90 million a year, has almost completed streamlining communication and business systems with its 300 franchise sites.

The $40,000 project is implementing collaboration and messaging software for the chain which is part of holding company, Retail Brands Group Pty Ltd (RBG) that also includes Wendy's Supa Sundaes and sub-franchise Quizno's Australia among others. Wendy's has about 45 staff at its Australian head office in Adelaide and another 15 retail managers in "remote locations" who each manage a number of stores.

Wendy's has 300 franchises - including 25 stores under a master franchise in New Zealand.

The chain needed a complete communications overhaul to "avoid the growing pains" that came with RBG's acquisition of Quizno's Australia, a chain of Italian-style toasted sandwich bars, about 18 months ago.

To tackle the task, Wendy's secured 450 licences for Novell business communication applications including Novell's eDirectory 8.7, GroupWise 6 and NetMail 3.1 software.

The company's chief financial officer, Greg Richmond, said the applications were initially implemented in the head office, and "once in and working, were implemented at the regional sites and rolled out to the franchise network".

Data, he said, went to the franchise network in mid-April so the applications are still being rolled out.

"[The acquisition of Quizno's] is what prompted us to go with Novell as we required additional functionality to support the growth and demand. It streamlined the operations of our two franchise networks after a change in operating platforms, so we needed a system that provided access to remote staff," Richmond said.

Another factor was the need for cost savings and Richmond estimates the project will result in a cut of about $20,000 a year in phone calls.

About 360 licences are in place now and Richmond said Wendy's acquired 450 licences to allow for planned expansion to 100 stores in the next three years for the Quizno's chain. Three stores were opened in Melbourne in October 2002.

Richmond said the project's $40,000 cost includes about $20,000 for the 450 licences, and another $20,000 for implementation costs and consultants fees.

"The low licensing pricing was one of the reasons we went with Novell," he said.

Wendy's is also using Novell's eDirectory - a cross-platform directory service - and Novell's GroupWise wireless solution for the 45 head office employees, and the "high performance" NetMail e-mail system "to ensure seamless communication with the 300 franchises".

With new routers, file servers and configuration required, Richmond said Wendy's so far is pleased with the implementation and has encountered only minor issues which, he said, are well handled by the IT manager.

While admitting to minor implementation problems, he said Novell consultants responded quickly to address the issues, but he did not provide details.

"No rollout this big can go hiccup free. It's an impossibility with a computer," he quipped, adding that the new applications should be completed later this month.

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