The COVID-19 pandemic has been and continues to be an incredibly challenging time for all businesses, including those in the retail and service franchise networks. It has called upon entire organizations, from CEOs to location owners, to look ahead, come together and remain strong.
In times like this, it’s critical to stay positive in the face of uncertainty and challenge. Even though these times are tough, keep in mind that a franchise location is likely facing an easier time than an independent business owner. That’s because a franchise location isn’t going it alone. They have the power and experience of their entire network and professional headquarters staff supporting them every step of the way.
This is truly a moment when we’re stronger together, and seeing each other through it to come out better in the long run. Here are some of the ways a franchise network can help its business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic:
I’ve found that when there’s turbulence in my life, it’s best to make a plan. You’ve got to first realize that business might not be the same for a while, but you should also have a goal in mind for where you want to be once a crisis has passed. A franchise brand’s corporate leadership must provide that plan for the location owners with a clear path ahead to future success.
Given where they are located in the country, franchisees are also facing market-specific challenges. Some are under lockdown orders, or maybe their locality hasn’t designated them an essential business. They may be dealing with staffing problems if employees get sick or need to care for their families. Some may be remaining open and operating with enhanced-sanitation procedures in place.
At the same time, many of the challenges they’re facing are similar. Sales may be slowing down, or they’re navigating safety issues. They may be dealing with landlords, or they may be applying for government loans and grants to keep their workforce in place.
A franchise’s headquarters should be creating clear procedures and best practices for their location owners to cover everything necessary to weather this pandemic and come out stronger on the other side. Communication must be frequent from headquarters, but procedures should also be tailored to each local market and store’s needs.
These initiatives might require some extra sweat equity from the headquarters staff, but it’s worth it to keep franchise location owners secure and supported during a stressful time. It shows them that there’s hope and opportunity, and even a big upside in the future – because we did things right.
Keeping Company Culture Alive
Another way the franchise network can help the location owners in the midst of this pandemic is to keep the company culture thriving. For many people who join a franchise, it’s not just about the business model. It’s about the lifestyle and culture that the brand represents. During this time, it’s especially important to shore up that company culture and let the location owners know they’re never alone.
Video conferencing and Facebook groups can let everybody get together to share their experiences, best practices and lessons learned. With everyone connected to each other and to headquarters, it should keep them from feeling isolated and abandoned.
Another benefit of staying in touch is that it keeps everyone on the same page about corporate messaging and response about the pandemic. Don’t forget that one location owner’s experiences can have an impact on others, so headquarters should ensure their whole network is always in the loop and informed.
Expect the Unexpected
Walking through this challenge with my headquarters staff and franchise location owners has shown me one more time that sound business practices are key. You’ve always got to have a contingency plan in place, expect the unexpected, and be resilient and resourceful.
But it’s also shown me how important the whole organization is to stability and sustainable growth. Our robust franchise network brings people together with different skillsets and strengths. With everyone looking at what they can do to better themselves and add overall value to the organization, we will weather this crisis and even come out of it better and stronger than ever before.
Charles Bonfiglio is president and CEO of Tint World®, an award-winning franchised provider of automotive, residential, commercial and marine window tinting and security film services. With Automotive Styling Centers™ in the U.S. and abroad, each franchise location houses approximately 20 profit centers, ranging from in-store accessory installations, to off-site sales and installation of residential, commercial and marine window tinting and security films.