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OnTrack Version 2.0 Can Boost Your Bottom Line

The International Franchise Association’s OnTrack Performance Benchmarking for Franchisors celebrated its first birthday in February with a suite of enhancements.
The new features provide users with deeper insight into how their performance compares to their peers’ across key metrics in finance, sales, employment, and best practices, and updates the tool for the 2011 fiscal year.
Like its predecessor, OnTrack 2.0 gives franchisors who answer a series of questions access to peer performance reports. Company identities are kept completely confidential, but OnTrack users can be sure comparisons are meaningful since each user defines peers in their own way. Peers can be filtered by line of business, business size, revenue amount, initial investment cost, years franchising or any combination. After peers are defined, customizable performance comparisons can be made any time, in less than a minute. At the users’ instance, the reports are displayed in picture format, as charts, in PowerPoint slides or as plain numbers. The last format can be exported to Excel by users who prefer to customize their findings.
OnTrack’s value comes from its comparison reports, which provide a quick, anonymous opportunity to identify gaps where business performance differs from peers’ across key performance indicators, or KPIs, like employment, cost position, revenue and growth. In other words, OnTrack gives insight into operating and financial drivers and a warning if something happens to be off base.
The time investment required for OnTrack is minimal—new users spend about an hour answering questions, and returning users spend 40 minutes annually updating their accounts with the latest fiscal year data.

“As a CEO of a growing franchise, I am always looking for another tool to help my franchise system. OnTrack easily allows me to identify the areas of my business where I can improve. In about an hour of information gathering and data entry, I was getting back valuable information on my company’s key performance indicators.”

Shelly Sun, CFE
CEO and Co-Founder
BrightStar Franchising, LLC

Getting valuable reports back from OnTrack depends on one thing—a robust community of users. Franchisors can begin using the tool throughout the year, but starting earlier is better for two reasons: company financial reports are often finished in the first quarter, so input information is fresh and accessible, and strategic planning, common in Q1 and Q2, can be informed with OnTrack data.
Since comparisons grow increasingly insightful as more franchisors use OnTrack, IFA is sending monthly updates detailing the number of users per line of business and key findings, to keep members abreast of developments in the benchmarking data pool and know when it becomes most meaningful. Another 2012 service offering is live support, by phone and e-mail, to help users maximize the value of the tool.
In addition to the new services, OnTrack 2.0 software has been updated and improved with four new features, as follows.
OnTrack 2.0 Enhancements
2011 Data Collection. Companies can now enter information and run reports for the 2011 business year. Users who entered 2009 and 2010 data and all new users who provide information for prior years have the capability to review their performance on a year-over-year basis. This helps users assess financial and operational performance and evaluate the impact of the previous years’ economic and business environments.

For example, the fictitious company below experienced a 7.6 percent increase in royalty revenue from the prior year. The chart shows this as a little better than the median as compared to peers, but about 10 percentage points less than the best performers.
Export Functionality. OnTrack users can now download their results in an Excel spreadsheet containing performance data for their company and peer groups.
More help, better instructions.Based on user feedback, IFA added a number of short, needed instructions to throughout.
Pop-Up Charts. When OnTrack users compare their performance against peers, numeric metrics display the comparisons in line charts. Each line chart now contains a link to a scatter plot that visually represents data for that metric. These charts provide more detailed information about the data points that make up the data pool, and allow users another layer of insight into peer performance. 
Blaire Jones is research coordinator for the International Franchise Association. She manages OnTrack and is available to answer member questions about benchmarking at 202-662-0796 or bjones@franchise.org.

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