National Retail Franchise Management Platform
Large-scale franchisee pool service system for service scheduling, customer management, sales management, routing and billing
Pinch A Penny is the largest pool retail and service franchise with nearly 300 stores throughout the southeastern US and the leading resource for all pool supply, equipment and service needs over the past 45 years. Nearly a decade ago Pinch A Penny created a web application to support franchisee operations. To support the next decade's growth, MercuryWorks modernized and expanded this solution into an enterprise national-scale system.
While functional, Pinch A Penny’s legacy web application (“PCP”) was outmoded for current business needs and built atop dated technology, both at the back-end and at the user interface. PCP had grown a feature at a time over several years without central product management to keep it organized and streamlined. Mercury’s challenge was to redesign and redevelop a more robust system to better align with franchise owner needs, improve inefficiencies and meet Pinch A Penny’s technology expectations.
Our planned solution incorporated new features and functions suited with its current franchise and corporate needs, a striking modern user interface and modern platform for long-term growth. An updated app structure to corral and refactor a more coherent set of features while rejuvenating the UI and UX was put in place to make all user interactions more delightful. We utilized the enterprise Strangler pattern and CI/CD automation to introduce change over a controlled series of pilots.
The new Pinch CarePro system allows Pinch A Penny to better serve their franchises, make each store more efficient and profitable and position them for dramatic ongoing corporate growth. The substantial facelift is both more aesthetic and state-of-the-art but also mobile-enabled for use on any device. The new enterprise architecture and technology elements are already bearing fruit with a reduction in software response times thanks to adept application of Azure cloud, .NET Core and React.
Pinch CarePro’s core customer data management solution includes extensive data tracking, custom view creation, deep lifetime customer, service and pool/equipment data tracking. Custom rate tracking, transaction tracking, aging/balance views and online payments processing are all strong points of the new system. Customer management tooling extends to scheduled task creation and editing along with tracking and storage of customer documents.
The legacy PCP system’s service management module presented data management and response time challenges due to long-term recurring service contracts; the new Pinch CarePro system simplifies service scheduling including auto-extension capabilities for long-term service contracts. Additionally, the system leverages the geo-based routing engine to suggest “smart” technician selection and scheduling for a service stop.
Billing management is the true “killer app” of the product. Monthly billing, batch processing of each store’s custom billing and posting of customer late fees streamlines each store manager’s ongoing billing job. Pinch CarePro’s billing log features keep an uninterrupted history of each customer’s transactions along with tracking of pending invoices down to line-item invoice management. Finalization and recall invoice actions enable store managers to follow a workflow.
Service technician routing and optimization is a much-needed solution for franchisees. Pinch CarePro delivers in a big way including an “Easy Button” for geo-based route optimization based on time and/or distance for all service stops on a technician’s route. Franchise managers can manually manipulate routes/order of stops and view real-time map-based updates – they can even drag and drop stops from one technician’s queue to another.
The Pinch CarePro reports module provides a plethora of tabular business reports ranging from customer billing to inventory reporting and customer service history. These reports are customizable by each franchisee, updated with real-time operational data and available to each franchised store operator on desktop and mobile device.
Pinch A Penny provides multiple means to drive leads to their franchisees, including a public website, consumer app and multiple online marketing channels. The Pinch CarePro sales module supports franchisee tracking and conversion of leads into estimates and closed contracts. Manager review screens handle management from initial action on a lead, drill into each lead’s details and update each lead with status, notes and tracking. Franchisees can turn leads into customer-associated estimates and ultimately executable contracts.
Other Key Highlights
60% Improvement in Response Time
Improved Franchisee Satisfaction
Store franchises have responded with a nearly universal positive response for the new system reported both via franchise surveys and increased system usage rates
Reduced Technical Debt
Populate commercial and open-source code complexity and health scores reflect a system that is more maintainable and containing less technical debt
Increased New Development Speed
The modernized technology platform and instituted design system have enabled Pinch A Penny engineers to roll out features in notably less time than in the past
"Our new platform is going to be massively popular with our stores. It provides wonderful new features, improved usability and significant speed improvements. They love it and I appreciate the Mercury hustle!"
James P. Eisch
Behind The Curtain
C#, Entity Framework and the .NET Core were used to implement all business logic and data marshaling for the application. Enterprise authentication practices and Core tie-ins provide a locked-down and robust security platform.
Provides a robust data storehouse and query platform to store all enterprise data, marshal data for integration and provide a source to the app’s API tier. In-cloud SQL Server was used to provide instant scalability and rapid querying.
Provides database storage, web app, authentication and web services. Azure provides an ideal solution for back end mobile applications with a multi-data center Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud solution.