With seemingly no end to the ravages of the corona virus, franchising and businesses across the globe are fighting for their survival and are shifting operations to accommodate an unknown landscape. Reflecting our own scenario, the Franchise Association in the USA reports that virtually, in every industry, the businesses that survive will have to change the way they operate and interact with consumers.
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and Corona virus has undoubtedly forced many businesses around the world to rethink operations. For franchise brands in particular, success will require franchisors to support franchisees and customers by pivoting their business models to better suit the changing marketplace.
Moving forward, short-term strategies for recovery should address what consumers need right now and position the brand to meet those needs. While the current state of operations will greatly depend on the individual industry, there are many universal trends that appear to be emerging across the board.
Adapt for change
For one, businesses across every industry will need to adopt options for a virtual or contactless model, whether it is tele-medicine, live-streamed workouts or third-party delivery for example. Rather than trying to upgrade systems and processes used in the past, businesses now have the opportunity to implement new, more impactful digital strategies. The trend toward digital began long before the arrival of COVID-19, and it certainly isn’t going to slow down now. From here on, every franchisee will need to be trained on best practices for utilizing technology to limit non-essential person-to-person interaction.
As countries start to slowly reopen, brands need to be prepared to follow health guidelines and implement new safety protocols and procedures to keep their customers and employees safe. The brands that openly address how they’re keeping everyone safe are the ones who will be most likely to win after the pandemic winds down and people remember which companies eased their fears. No matter if the business operates in a corporate office or retail store, going the extra mile will be expected when it comes to safety, including everything from tables positioned two metres apart and adding patio dining as well as readily available hand sanitizer, face mask regulations and cleanliness procedures.
Looking to the Future
Whilst COVID-19 pandemic has wrought havoc in every economy of the world, making this the most challenging time in recent memory, all is not lost as things will start up again as the need for goods and services resumes – albeit reshaped by the pandemic to some extent. American franchise contributor Jeff Bevis believes business owners should keep themselves open to new opportunities, allowing their businesses to be reshaped in ways that can help them survive and even thrive. Here are three things to look for in post-Covid business opportunities:
1. Connect with your customers
Right now, it is vital to strengthen connections with your existing customers. Their habits and preferences are rapidly changing due to the pandemic, and you must show them your business is meeting their new reality – whether it comes to social distancing, online ordering or low-contact services. Connecting with customers remotely and vice versa must be at the core of your strategy.
2. Create Synergy
Examine your existing business plan and infrastructure and identify what other products or services you are equipped to offer to expand or diversify your business now. What existing equipment, trained staff, transportation network and more can you adapt to offer a new, different product or service? Find a need that fits your existing operation, and fill it.
3. Give Peace of Mind
Look at your business through your customers’ eyes. What do they need right now to increase their peace of mind or give them added assurance during COVID-19? Think about ways you can alter your marketing, web presence and branding to bolster that trust and reassurance. They need to know that they are safer doing business with a pandemic-prepared business like you.
Open your mind to all the possible ideas to adapt, stay nimble, and reinvent your business for success that will span many years ahead.
Are you a franchise business, what have you done to adapt to the new normal to keep business flowing?