Like all other sectors in Australia and the world, the franchise industry is facing an unprecedented situation.
The pandemic has resulted in the temporary closure of brands across almost all industries, and leadership teams are having to rethink how they run their businesses. Most franchisors are also doing their best to support their franchisees.
Today, more than ever before, franchisors need to show genuine leadership for all their team members and franchisees. It’s the only way they would be able to respond appropriately, recover, bounce back and thrive. Only businesses that are willing to embrace change, seize opportunities, adapt and persist will be able to succeed.
Change is inevitable; in particularly troubling times, this becomes all the more important. Businesses must evaluate where they stand and what they need to do to be at a position that will help them remain viable and stable. At the moment, it’s not business as usual; every franchisor needs to install protocols, so franchisees feel protected and valued. While the COVID-19 pandemic represents a bleak future for some companies, it has also opened up opportunities to others.
Franchisors need to bring their leadership qualities during the pandemic. Here are some ways businesses can take on the challenge and turn these uncertain times into an opportunity.
At the moment, there is no clear indication about when the Coronavirus crisis will blow over, and the country’s economy will recover. No matter which industry you operate in, as a franchisor, you need to keep the communication lines open. While you may feel that communicating with franchisees at the moment is stressful because you don’t have all the answers, it’s a crucial aspect of maintaining some semblance of normalcy.
Make sure that your franchisees and business partners are confident about bouncing back. They need to be sure that the company and their business will recover. It’s why you need to provide ongoing support and communicate effectively. Your franchisees would need solid support in areas including procedures and operations. Discuss best practices and have a reopening plan in place to share with them.
When you keep the communication lines open and encourage dialogue, your franchisees would feel more confident and know that you are there to address their doubts, answer queries and provide some concrete advice as well. Some franchisors are quite proactive with this aspect and are looking for new ways to enhance the levels of communication within their network. In addition to all the standard support you provide, you can also add webinars, conference calls and video meetings to keep all your franchisees in the loop.
Since changes are happening almost every day, your franchisees need to have the latest information on all the available sources. Things they may need some information on include potential rent deferment, vendor partnerships, loan and financing options and more.
If you can, consider setting up a designated advisory task force for your franchise. This task force can discuss COVID19–related issues and how the current situation will impact the brand and measures they can take to reduce this impact. Franchisors must set up forums in the current crises.
The changing landscape has made it necessary for businesses of all shapes and sizes to find new and novel ways of adapting and making changes to their business model. Whether it means implementing curbside pickup, limiting the occupancy in retail locations or launching virtual workouts, as a franchisor you need to help franchisees tweak their value proposition to meet evolving customer needs in today’s changing environment.
Although many franchisees will have insights into their local communities, it’s your job to conduct some research and keep constant track of the evolving market and standards.
While you always establish your guidelines, you must be adapting in ways you never imagined. As you enter these uncharted waters, you can get some information and guidance from the FCA website. As your franchisees may be struggling and feeling a little lost and apprehensive at the moment, you can also tell them about the online resources available to them in these trying times.
Depending on the industry you operate in, consider developing tools and as mentioned, host webinars. These efforts will help your franchisees better understand the changes they need to make in their business to weather the storm that the pandemic has created in today’s marketplace. These types of changes need extensive communication between you and your franchisees.
You can conduct some online training on new strategies your franchisees can use to attract and engage customers; you can use social media messaging, digital offerings and innovative marketing campaigns. Although these may not bring in the traffic you hoped to your network’s brick and mortar stores, it will help keep your brand in the limelight. This aspect is crucial; once things start getting back to normal, it will give you a headstart over the competition as your brand will still be fresh in your customers’ minds.
This is a transformational period for many businesses. You can use this time to revaluate your brand’s underlying value proposition and inspire franchisees, teams, customers and prospects. When you revaluate your core values and brand messaging, it will put you in a stronger position to succeed when we all emerge into the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Even if you have to pull back active advertising for a bit, you can create some campaigns that have a more empathetic vibe. This adjustment in your sales messaging will help you and your franchisees get back on their feet quicker. Coming out of the pandemic crises, you will want to be positioned positively in the lead generation funnel.
These are indeed challenging times. But as a franchisor, you need to recognise that ultimately, the crises will end. When you take the time to coach your franchisees and teams through the current situation, you also need to start preparing for the new normal that awaits us at the other end of the pandemic. It means you need to discuss plans and guide franchisees on how they will get back on their feet and ramp up once their customers start spending again.
Right now, millions of people throughout the country are at home; many of these are researching opportunities and revaluating their current jobs. The recovery process that follows the pandemic represents an opportunity for your franchise brand to create consistent, meaningful communication at every stage of the discovery process. Continue to provide support to your franchisees now, participate in real and honest conversations.
At the moment, stable leadership is all about preparing teams for the future, maintaining and spreading positivity and showing compassion. Your franchisees will be looking to you for direction and guidance, and now is the time to step up your leadership game and do everything possible to help and support them.
Before the pandemic, franchising has been a vital part of the business landscape in Australia. As a leader, you need to communicate with various stakeholders and your franchisees, develop reopening strategies and pivot your business model to lead franchisees to success. You can get a lot of useful information on the FCA website.
As mentioned earlier, encourage your franchisees to visit the site and explore the forums and other resources. Right now, everyone can do with all the support and help they can get. Just as you boost the morale of your franchisees, guide and support them, take the time to discuss the current situation with peers so that you too have some support and direction from the right quarters.
If you want any more information or support and ideas on how to go about communicating with and keeping your franchisees engaged and in a positive mind frame, contact the experts at The Franchise Institute. You can call us on 1300 855 435 or fill in this contact us form, and one of our experts will contact you as soon as we can.
Thanks for reading,
The Franchise Institute Team
1300 855 435