Customer Retention vs. Franchise Development in Times of Coronavirus

Franchise Development

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020; 3:00pm-4:00pm

Customer Retention vs. Franchise Development in Times of Coronavirus

Panelists: Mark Jameson / Jania Bailey / Renee Israel / Tom Wood

Webinar Summary –

This webinar brought together both established and emerging franchisors who discussed their perspectives and responses from their brands on current operations and franchise development, and advice to franchisors and franchisees during COVID-19-related business uncertainty. The panelists underscored a few points, including: direct communication and guidance with franchisees; innovation to seize on new modes and methods of revenue creation; going to a breakeven state to retool and reassess for future operations; and to continue working on deals for franchise development on flexible and empathetic time-frames.

Key Bullets –

  • Direct, clear and centralized communications and guidance will emphasize your value as franchisor, and be of greatest help to your franchisees
  • Assist your franchisees with the mechanics of slowing down their operations to a break-even point, including with outside vendors, and to negotiate on their behalf
  • Use this time to refine operations, retool, and rethink operations and marketing strategies
  • Be ready to go when the quarantine is lifted and to turn on quickly
  • Adapt with virtual strategies for franchise development – deals can be done successfully virtually

Full Bullets –

  • Advice to franchisors, franchisees
  • Mark Jameson à
    • Website to direct franchisees toward central guidance, marketing materials, resources
    • Network wide weekly calls with all franchisees
    • A time to overcommunicate with franchisees; and they are sharing with each other and the franchisor
    • Bringing support to business- rent relief, with third party to negotiate on their behalf
    • ADP to provide guidance on furloughing employees
    • Assuring that FASTSIGNS is an essential service – drafted letters on behalf of franchisees based on customers, and customers drafted letters to government regulators asking to deem companies like FASTSIGNS as essential
  • Renee Israel
    • Customer retention
      • Pivoting to new normal
    • Company is introducing grocer boxes to provide new ways to reach existing customers
    • Pivoting to take out and delivery
    • Messaging that the brand is doing social good for the community
  • Tom Wood
    • Maximizing revenue opportunities for franchisees
    • Bringing cash in the door for the next phase
    • System-wide weekly phone calls – jumping off point for communications where franchisees can then break off into small groups and a member of the corporate team to quickly process newest information
    • Both for consumer and for franchisee, what started out as a safe environment became a shift to prepare franchisees for close down process, breakeven analysis to cope with declining revenue
    • “Sheltering” time for franchisees to preserve cash
    • Using this time to migrate to a new software platform by June 1
    • Training, retooling, marketing and advertising approach
    • Rapid relaunch phase: when we can get back in operations, we want franchisees to come out fast
      • Marketing has to be turned on quickly
      • Install crews ready to go quickly
      • Franchisees shed all overhead so that they can move quickly
    • Working with suppliers for new merchandising opportunities
      • B2B/C environments
      • Real estate, for example
  • Jania Bailey
    • Pivoted FranNet Spring Meetings to a virtual session
    • Set up intranet folder with articles, templates, communications, best practices
    • Proactive internally
    • Beyond the crisis – mindset is next step and resolution when crisis passes
    • Emerging franchisors – reaching out because they don’t have the resources or confidence as more established clients
  • Franchise Development
    • Not the time for a hard-sale
    • Be empathetic, be willing to work with them at their pace
    • Do everything we can virtually to stay in contact
    • Good faith deposits – form of deferment of training into the future
    • Some brands that have cash flow issues foremost
    • Providing clients with information on the SBA programs
      • Being a resource and a trusted advisor to clients
    • Some development has slowed, some hasn’t
    • Virtual discovery days has been successful in the face of this crisis
      • This has been a surprise. The success of virtual discovery and development has been an unpredicted bright spot
    • Moving to a virtual tour of locations with senior executives
    • Leads are down, but deals are not down for FASTSIGNS
    • Keep your doors open and the pipeline open