Franchises find human connections with online distance.
By Tim Arpin, Scooter's Coffee
As the country continues to reel from the COVID-19 pandemic, things are far from “business as usual” for many businesses. This has proven especially true of franchises and businesses operating in the service and hospitality industries. Thankfully, one company is using technology to restore a sense of routine for both franchisees and customers.
Scooter’s Coffee, the Midwest-based drive-thru coffee franchise expanding across America, has been serving its amazing products to customers for over 20 years. Now, its drive-thru kiosks are providing people with the amazing drinks they need in a safe and responsible manner.
“We have an opportunity to really impact people’s lives and be a bright spot in their day in a very difficult and trying time for people,” says Tim Arpin, Vice President of Franchise Recruitment for Scooter’s Coffee. “We have the opportunity to be a spot of normalcy for them in very abnormal times.”
Arpin says that Scooter’s Coffee is fortunate to operate on a business model uniquely positioned to thrive in these difficult times. As part of its goal to further aid its community, Scooter’s Coffee is taking an innovative approach to franchising in the face of coronavirus.
Discovery Day Is an Important Day for Franchisees
When it comes to the franchise purchasing process, the traditional discovery day is one of the biggest and most important days in the journey of a franchisee. Now, like many events across the country, discovery days are also being upended.
To combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, governments are recommending “social distancing” and avoiding gathering in groups of 10 or more. The orders have seen the cancellation of many social gatherings, festivals and business travel.
Scooter's Coffee, which refers to its discovery days as “Be Amazing Days,” found itself presented with a tough test. How does a company continue to hold an event where human connection and interaction is so core to the process while also remaining mindful of the current situation?
The whole team pulled together, and it was absolutely phenomenal. It went better than we could have possibly imagined."
“When we were faced with this challenge, we already had a ‘Be Amazing Day’ coming up,” says Arpin. “We had to make the very difficult decision of protecting not only our employees but also protecting our prospective franchisees and being good citizens.”
The solution was to turn its discovery day into an online interactive experience for franchisees.
“I went and asked my team if this is something we can pull off and they immediately said ‘yes’ without hesitation,” Arpin says. “The whole team pulled together, and it was absolutely phenomenal. It went better than we could have possibly imagined.”
Evolving Tradition Through Technology
A typical “Be Amazing Day” is an action-packed day at the company’s Omaha, Nebraska, headquarters. It begins bright and early, with a store visit during a morning rush (the business’ busiest time) and continues with tours of the business’ warehousing, roasting and baking facilities before closing with a meeting with senior leadership. How does a company take so many action items and transpose them to an online setting?
“We’ve leveraged a video chat platform and pulled in the respective players,” says Arpin. “We pulled in the owner of one of our kiosks and asked her if she’d be willing to do a virtual store tour and answer questions of the franchisees. She popped in a pair of AirPods, and she was able to field questions and talk to them virtually.”
Nick Jarecke, Vice President of Supply Chain for Scooter’s Coffee, was shadowed by an employee taking online video as he gave franchisees the same warehouse tour they could expect if they were on location.
The volume of wonderful questions we got from the prospective franchisees was astounding, and we were all really impressed and pleased with it."
In addition to recreating the same experience prospective franchisees have come to expect from a “Be Amazing Day,” was another positive that nobody expected.
Online Discovery Days Offer Unforeseen Benefits
Arpin says that, despite franchisees calling in remotely, the online medium lent itself to inspiring a greater number of high-quality questions from franchise candidates.
“One of the really interesting things that happened yesterday was that there was space and opportunity for people to ask so many great questions,” he says. “Often, when you’re in a live setting, maybe one or two people will dominate the conversation. It was so much more democratic than that. The volume of wonderful questions we got from the prospective franchisees was astounding, and we were all really impressed and pleased with it.”
Franchisees further appreciated the reliability and respect underlying the company’s decision to continue to hold “Be Amazing Days,” albeit online.
“It was meaningful to them that we knew they had carved out this time, and we respected that enough to continue to find a way to have the meeting online and push forward.”
Offering a ‘New Normal’ in Abnormal Times
Arpin went on to say that the virtual discovery day was a resounding success — and that it is a practice he hopes to see other businesses take up as more people begin to hunker down.
“I definitely encourage any franchisor to realize the possibilities of the ways they can leverage technology and humanize it,” he says. “We’re all in this together right now. Anything we can do to lift each other up and create some normalcy for each other is going to be positive.”
Scooter’s Coffee is currently planning to have its next “Virtual Be Amazing Day” in April.
Tim Arpin is Vice President of Franchise Recruitment for Scooter’s Coffee. For more information on Scooter's Coffee, click here.