Poolwerx’ crisis management key to flood response when franchises and head office underwater

By Sarah Stowe | 23 Mar 2022 View comments

Poolwerx’ crisis management proved crucial when franchisees, and head office, were hit by the recent and devastating floods in northern New South Wales and Brisbane.

Two stores in Gympie and Lismore have been lost to the floods, while the Elanora store on the Gold Coast suffered water damage.

Poolwerx formed a cross-department committee to assist and support franchisees affected by the floods and the team met daily for a period of two weeks.

Nic Brill, chief operations officer, told Inside Franchise Business Executive “Poolwerx has invested in crisis management in the last few years to ensure we can move quickly when the unexpected happens. This has allowed us to take a fast and organised approach to supporting our franchise partners during the flood disasters with the right stakeholders on board to form the Crisis Response Committee.”

On the committee representatives from operations, business development, marketing, people performance and culture, supply, as well as leasing to negotiate rental reliefs and rebuilds, and the retail department.

“For us, it’s always about the people first. Our back end is all cloud-based, which has enabled our flood-affected franchise partners to continue servicing customers while temporarily displaced.  This means the service side of the business can continue and they’re able to operate from anywhere with any device.”

Brill said the situation was in fact dual crises: existing supply chain pressures due to Omicron, and the flood disaster. Across the industry there have been issues sourcing supplies, particularly salt, which was already in short supply as a result of La Nina.

“We’ve learned the value of having a dedicated crisis response team but are also looking at ways to prepare our stores should a future flood occur. In many instances, our business in the US means we can see trends and industry insights up to six months ahead of what we experience on the ground in Australia and New Zealand, so that is serving us well.”

The flood waters also affected the Poolwerx headquarters, he said, forcing the support centre team to work from home.

“Our head office sustained significant damage with the whole ground floor wiped out and extensive water damage to the walls and ceiling. Poolwerx is using this opportunity to fast-track refurbishment plans with an intended completion time before the end of the financial year,” said Brill.