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A Conversation With: Mitch Baker of Robeks

Nick Powills and Charles Internicola are joined by Mitch Baker, VP of Marketing for Robeks, to discuss how the franchise brand is dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

The coronavirus continues to have dire effects on businesses across the country, and the franchise industry is no exception. Franchisors across segments are strategizing new ways to support their franchisees, keep customers satisfied, help local communities and come out stronger on the other side of this crisis.

To that end, 1851 Franchise publisher Nick Powills and Charles Internicola, founder and partner of the Internicola Law* Firm, are covering the coronavirus and its impact on businesses through our A Conversation With webinar series.

In today’s afternoon webinar, Powills and Internicola spoke with Mitch Baker, VP of Marketing for Robeks, about how franchisors and franchisees can learn from the COVID-19 crisis. 

Here are some of the key insights from their discussion.

Preparing for the Other Side

There is no blueprint for how to emerge from this crisis. Franchisees need to react to the needs of their individual market. As state governments begin opening up economies, franchisees need to be ready to appeal to consumers.

Brands should be reaching out and giving the opportunity for franchisees to share what is happening in their market and what they need. Robeks has a system-wide franchisee webinar to support franchise partners and keep them up to date with information. Whether it is financing, marketing or operations, franchisors should be using this time to implement new initiatives.

It is important to stay on course and be consistent with messaging. Brands shouldn’t be over-marketing or trying to take advantage of the fears and anxieties of consumers in order to boost sales. Instead, the goal should be trying to help consumers in any way possible. 

As we emerge from this crisis, brands need to be prepared to pivot — business owners never know what the next trend is going to be in the industry. Brands can’t take things for granted or continue to function in a certain way just because it is the way things have always been done. The landscape of a whole industry can change overnight.

Focus on Franchisees

It is easier to reacquire customers than it is to reacquire franchisees. While the industry’s focus used to be specifically on consumers, now, franchisees are becoming more valued as partners and stakeholders of the brands. Internal marketing may need to be leveraged now more than ever. 

Brands need to create an inclusive environment where the feedback from the franchisees is valued. It will be much harder to sell franchisees after this crisis if established franchise partners weren’t supported during this period. 

Marketing Shifts

When this crisis started, most brands had to shift their marketing strategy. For example, Robeks was planning on launching a marketing campaign earlier this year centered around flavor and health food product promotions, but they held it back in order to focus on providing franchisees with the tools they need. 

Brands should also be looking at digital and social media to adapt and boost messaging. As opposed to halting marketing efforts, now is the time to readjust, especially as we emerge from this crisis. It is also important to keep a close eye on analytics to understand how these marketing strategies are working. 

If brands stop marketing altogether, they will need to spend more money later on in order to play catch up. Some organizations, such as Panera, have even increased their marketing spend to keep the machine moving and make sure no momentum is lost. 

Whether it be operations, support, marketing or development, prospective franchisees are going to be judging brands on how they acted during this crisis.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.