Panasonic’s New Brunswick Investment: Quick Service Software
[This post was originally published in March 2016, it has been updated due to an announcement made today by QSS and Opportunities NB]
New Brunswick’s Quick Service Software (QSS) provides web-based back office software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions for quick service restaurant clients. QSS services big name customers across the globe, assisting with financial reporting, food and labour cost management, and more.
Its flagship Clearview platform integrates with multiple point of sale (POS) systems, and other software to examine restaurant-generated data and—largely in real time—perform a variety of analyses.
Co-Founder and COO Greg Noel created the platform seventeen years ago in his spare bedroom. It began as a side project; his wife Jocelyne worked in the quick service industry and recruited Greg to help with automation for a client. This led to him building a new platform on his own time. The result was Clearview, software now used in over 6,000 quick service locations.
Opportunities NB (ONB) spoke with Greg Noel to discuss the company’s growth, the decision to move east from Toronto, and advantages of operating in New Brunswick.
ONB: First let’s mention some of your big name clients.
Noel: Our clients include many well-known brands, Tim Hortons being our largest; QSS software is found in approximately 4,000 of their locations. We also work with McDonald’s Canada, A&W, Wendy’s, Burger King, Dairy Queen, and more.
ONB: Speaking of well-known brands, you announced big news in fall 2015.
Noel: Yes, in September 2015 we sold 51 percent of QSS to the Panasonic Corporation. We are already working on global deals through them, so it’s an exciting time. We were already global mind you; we are used at Tim Hortons in Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates for example. Several Dairy Queens in that region use us as well. It’s a multilingual platform allowing any language to be coded into it. We’re now gearing up to add Japanese as part of the Panasonic agreement.
ONB: Your headcount is in the mid-50s. Safe to assume the Panasonic arrangement means more growth?
Noel: We’re always hiring, and that’s an area we’ve focused on with ONB. Our plan is to roughly double our headcount over the next five years. The last four saw good growth, about 25 percent each year thanks largely to our work with McDonald’s Canada. We’re looking to move more globally both with McDonald’s and other companies thanks to Panasonic’s reach. Our big challenge over the last five years has been ensuring we find good talent, and we know that will be our biggest challenge over the next five as we look to hit our ambitious growth targets. We’ve been working with ONB to determine which programs can best help with recruitment, and how best to find great talent.
[Update – March 1st, 2017: With support from ONB, QSS has announced the creation of up to 50 new full-time positions within the next four years of operation.]
ONB: Let’s talk New Brunswick. Would you agree that work-life balance is an advantage of operating here?
Noel: Absolutely, that’s what I like best about New Brunswick. The scenery is gorgeous and I think we underestimate the appeal of being able to walk outside your office and feel like you’re in a different world. It’s the serenity that is so big for my family. I love is that the company can move at a rapid pace day-to-day, but when work is done I can truly relax. You see trees here, not just concrete. It’s that quality of life that is our biggest advantage.
We hired a gentleman from Cameroon at a CareerDoor fair in Toronto. He and his family lived in Toronto but felt this would be a much better place to raise kids. People looking at that factor should seriously consider New Brunswick.
What I love about Fredericton specifically is the strong staff we’ve managed to find, many of whom have been with us almost since the beginning. We’ve built an amazing team here and QSS wouldn’t be where we are today without each and every one of them.
It’s nice to look back and think about how it began, creating it all in that spare bedroom in our old house. Now we’re selling globally.
ONB: As someone who built a company from his spare bedroom, what is your best advice for entrepreneurs?
Noel: What you learn is that sometimes the bigger companies don’t always drive all of a region’s innovation. They have too much to lose, too many shareholders to answer to. Innovation can and will come from smaller businesses. Don’t skip directly to finding an investor to help grow your company. Pound the pavement and show that your idea works. You may be able to do it on your own. It’s more lucrative to go that way if you can; investors take equity.
I also think entrepreneurs should focus on how they treat employees. Not just because it’s the right thing to do; but from a business perspective too. Training is expensive if you have a revolving door. Our corporate culture is important to us and we work hard to ensure all our employees are engaged with what we do and the value we provide to customers. We have an excellent benefits package (with no deduction to the employees), health and wellness incentives, as well as retention and bonus programs. We also have a performance management program where all employees meet face-to-face with their manager every month — this ensures we stay in tune with their needs and can help them with career growth.
Learn more about expanding or locating your business in New Brunswick by connecting with an ONB Business Development Executive at the button below.
Quick Service Software