Opterus Puts the ‘Opps’ in Franchise Operations

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If you are a pet owner who resides in California, your pet’s needs will differ to some degree compared to those of a pet owner in the Northeast. For example, the fundamental level of care can change based on local weather differences, explained Gary Stonell, SVP Sales & Operations at Opterus, a SaaS-based company that charges clients a fee per-retail-store for unlimited franchise access to the Opterus OPSCENTER solution.

Pet Supplies Plus, the largest independent pet franchise in North America, is a client and by working with Opterus since 2013, its store count doubled from 400 to 800, the majority of them franchise-owned. It also acquired pet brand Wag N’ Wash in 2022.

The SKU’s (stock-keeping units) that New York stores will carry will be different than those located in temperate climates, Stonell said, “Things like doggy boots and jackets and maybe different types of shampoo and solutions to take care of pets’ fur in a colder climate.”

Opterus considers its distinguishing feature to be helping maintain consistency and culture across store employees and leadership for all of its clients, which include Lindt, Ollie’s, and GameStop.

“We have a multi-tenant solution much like a lot of the other SaaS vendors do, meaning that everyone is on that SaaS Cloud,” he said. “But we make sure that every one of our clients are on the same version of our software. We don’t run multiple versions at the same time.”

Clients have options to tap into new features on the Opterus platform. They can talk to each other to learn best practices, an offering Stonell says other SaaS vendors do not have.

At the individual store level, Opterus has role-based permissions from managers to shelf stockers to cashiers to manage inventory and assign tasks efficiently. The Opterus software is used by retailers in more than 45 countries and 30 languages.

Retailers often use OPSCENTER to assign tasks for inventory spot checks. Some clients of Opterus have cameras on shelves at their retail locations and use AI to flag an empty spot on the shelf because a customer bought two or three packages of the same item. That AI capability creates an instant automated task within the Opterus system to notify a retail associate to go the stock room replenish items on the shelf.

At the NRF’s Big Retail Show conference in January, Pet Supplies Plus executives appeared on a panel to discuss the success they have had using Opterus for franchisees. In addition to clothing, toys, leashes, etc., Pet Supplies Plus offers services such as grooming, pet wash, or self pet wash.

“We have a very complex retail hierarchy,” Kelly Mason, Manager of Store Communication for Pet Supplies Plus told the audience. “[Opterus] is something that the stores access on a daily basis and go to for anything they need.” Mason said she is one of two people who use the system for multiple locations.

Stonell added that the Opterus platform can be configured for small teams such as hers and for teams as large as 12 people.

Mason explained that new franchisees are introduced to the Opterus system immediately because it helps them get on their feet operationally.

“There’s a lot of moving pieces when you open a franchise store,” she said. “We liken it to drinking from a firehose.”

And franchise owners have responded well to using Opterus. “We’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from all [of them], she said. “They have the ability to access everything from their set up teams,” as well as merchandising and managing supply chains.

The Opterus revenue model is based on re-occurring monthly revenue, and the company does not charge for implementation, onboarding or professional service fees.

Pet Supplies Plus is based in Livonia, Mich., and in 2022, it ranked No. 20 in Entrepreneur magazine’s 43rd Annual Franchise 500® list.

Kathleen Sampey