How Franchisees Can Give Back During the COVID-19 Pandemic
By Lori Wolff, Mosquito Joe
Local business owners have no shortage of opportunities to support their communities.
Small-business owners across the country are reeling from the catastrophic and ongoing fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Even those well positioned to capture an outsized share of rapidly diminishing consumer spending must contend with the uncertainty of what comes next and just how dire and widespread the pandemic’s long-term effects on the economy will be.
It’s little surprise then that so many business owners have taken a defensive position, scaling back operations, cutting inessential staff and reducing spending. But as this crisis continues to escalate with no clear end in sight, the hunker-down-and-wait-it-out approach is becoming increasingly untenable.
More importantly, communities are hurting, and local businesses have the capacity and resources to help. Franchisees, who benefit from corporate backing and a multi-store network of support, are particularly well-equipped to provide relief. Fortunately, by implementing a few key pivots, franchisees owners can provide essential support for their communities while finding new revenue streams to keep their businesses afloat during this difficult chapter.
Assess the Business Model
Every business owner should take a good hard look at their operation and identify their key value propositions. What does the business provide that no one else can? Why do customers choose this brand? What about the model makes it more effective or profitable? Make a list. Then start thinking about how you can extend those virtues to meet this crisis head-on in your community.
The advantage afforded by our digital age in this unprecedented emergency is that we can still communicate effectively and broadly. Whatever service your business provides, you can still reach your customers. Even if you cannot find a way to provide your traditional service digitally, think about the value you provide and how you can adjust your services to continue providing that value. For many brands, that value may come down to expertise, which presents the opportunity to build learning and guidance hubs, online classes and other education tools and services.
Shift Your Product or Service
Whatever widget you sell may not be in demand today, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop producing. Take a look at your manufacturing and operational capacity. You might find you have the capability and resources to provide something your community needs, like N95 masks, gloves or even just safe delivery services.
Maybe you can’t make N95 masks in your store but the nearby clothier can. Reach out. Start a conversation and figure out how you can leverage your resources to support them. Maybe you can package masks with a product you sell or offer your store as an access point for shipments and deliveries.
By partnering with shops and entrepreneurs in your community, you’ll help remind your community of the importance of supporting local businesses.
Lend a Hand
Remember that you and your employees are not just part of a business but also part of a community, and as such, you have a valuable role to play. This is a time when something as simple as being a friendly neighbor can make a world of difference. Look out for the most vulnerable and at-risk members of your community. Offer to assist with things like grocery shopping or dog walking. You could even help another struggling business owner apply for SBA loans. When the economy recovers, as it inevitably will, consumers will remember which businesses were truly invested in their communities and stepped up to the challenge, and they’ll be rewarded accordingly.
Lori Wolff is a Mosquito Joe franchise owner. For more information on Mosquito Joe, click here.