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Coronavirus and Franchising: Jackie Bondanza of Hounds Town USA, Brent Dowling of Raintree and Rob Flanagan of Wag N’ Wash

Nick Powills and Charles Internicola are joined by Hounds Town USA President Jackie Bondanza, Raintree CEO Brent Dowling and Wag N’ Wash President Rob Flanagan to discuss how brands are tackling the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.

The coronavirus continues to have dire effects on businesses across the country, forcing many to slow or even cease operations. The franchising industry is no exception, and franchisors across segments are strategizing new ways to support their systems and survive 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 the franchising industry through a webinar series titled “Coronavirus and Franchising: Mindset + Strategy to Recover and Grow.”

In today’s morning webinar, Powills and Internicola spoke with Hounds Town USA President Jackie Bondanza, Raintree* CEO Brent Dowling and Wag N’ Wash President Rob Flanagan. 

Here are some of the key insights from their discussion.

Play Offense and Keep a Solution-Focused Mindset 

Too many brands are playing defense when they should be playing offense. This is a time to communicate with franchisees and get the whole team to take a proactive, forward-facing stance. It’s time to start looking toward Q3 and Q4. 

The coronavirus is not the franchising industry’s fault, but it is its problem. Brands need to acknowledge the fear but also keep a solution-focused mindset. Franchisors cannot walk away from this issue. They must demonstrate their true value to franchisees and double down on their support. 

This is a time for smaller, emerging brands to shine. Emerging brand representatives are accustomed to wearing multiple hats. The benefits of a smaller system is that franchisees can have a more personable relationship with the leadership team. 

Consider New Real Estate Opportunities

One positive result of the current crisis is that franchisees who are in the process of selecting real estate will find better and more inexpensive real estate. Landlords will be willing to negotiate. 

Take Advantage of Down Time

Since business has slowed down, if not ceased altogether, this is a great time for brands to start working on ideas they’ve had but haven’t had the time to execute. Since teams are aligned and rowing in the same direction, brands have the ability to train better and communicate more efficiently. 

Increase Communication

Franchisee satisfaction is in a particularly precarious spot, so brands must increase communication and show their support. This high level of support is why people join a franchise. 

Messaging is especially important right now, and brands need to be careful in how they approach it and make sure to deliver relevant, personalized content that speaks to the buyer. 

Positivity is Key

Even on a bad day — especially on a bad day — everyone should take a minute to process their emotions and know when to disconnect. Highlight the positive things happening in your brand’s network and share those stories. 

At the end of the day, values are just words. It’s all about how your brand shows these values through actions. 

The magnitude of this crisis is huge. Approach it with a practical mindset and believe you will get through this and change lives. This will not be the last crisis our businesses face in our lifetimes.

Slowing down and succumbing to fear can damage your company. We are not out of the woods, and fear is going to be rampant, but we have to focus on how we deal with that fear. Even on days when you get kicked down, the key is to fight fear and stay focused on getting projects done. 

Appreciate Your Customers

Brands that are still able to reach their customers should remain positive and be grateful to have the opportunity to continue serving people. 

Franchisees are having very emotional moments with customers right now, and happy stories are emerging. Find ways to show customers appreciation. Humility and gratitude are critical at this moment.

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