How can you help an about-to-launch franchisee through the COVID-19 crisis?

By Corina Vucic | 30 Mar 2020 View comments

The goal posts are moving every day for businesses when it comes to the current Coronavirus situation. They aren’t just moving a little – they are moving by many metres and all businesses are scrambling to adapt.

As I write this, a lot of hospitality franchisees have had to close their doors. As have gyms and indoor sports venues. 

So how does a franchisee, who is about to open an outlet under your franchised brand cope? How do you help them survive both mentally and financially until restrictions ease? 

Immediately have a virtual meeting with all stakeholders and assess the franchisees state of mind, general health and their understanding of how COVID-19 is likely to impact their start-up. 

What help does the franchisee require?

  • Can you provide support with your own resources stretched with the current needs of your network? 
  • Do you need a professional to help the franchisee getting into the best mental frame of mind? 
  • What help and guidance is the franchisee’s financial institution providing? Can they provide more flexibility? 
  • The landlord – what communications can you help with in seeking rental relief for the premises? 
  • Suppliers of products and services – what calls and supporting communication can you provide to help postpone or re-shape orders? 
  • Can you provide clear guidance on what government initiatives the franchisee may be able to access? 

Where are you in the store rollout?

  • What control leavers do you have to reschedule key milestones in order to minimise the economic impact – with the franchisee being your paramount concern? 
  • Is the site a build? Union site? Shopping Centre? Who do you need to be accessing for reliable up to date information on these matters so you can factor them in to your planning? 
  • Look at insurance policies – is there any avenue there for financial compensation? 

Communication and marketing

  • Communicate with new team members, keeping them in the loop. How is this going to impact their planning and job security? Is there government help that will allow the franchisee to retain key people? 
  • Marketing – What paid marketing has been committed? Does it need to be cancelled or postponed? Are there messages the franchisee needs to share with the local community? Keep them informed, keep them engaged? 

Further franchisee help

  • Can the franchisor help with deferred fees, compensation or financial support? 
  • Can the franchisor deploy the franchisees into another role in the business to support them and their loss of income, due to the delay? Are they able to jump into another store or a head office project role?