bannerFranchisor Stories

Franchise Brands Are Preparing to Welcome Customers as States Start to Reopen

Executives from Fransmart, Wild Birds Unlimited and REGYMEN Fitness weigh in on the steps that franchise brands should be making now in order to ensure a safe and successful reopening process.

Right now, stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders have become the “new norm” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, states across the country are starting to reopen and welcome customers again, even with social distancing rules in place. As more and more local governments follow this lead and begin to give businesses the go-ahead to once again open their doors, franchisees and franchisors across the country need to be prepared for their grand reopenings.

Dan Rowe, founder and CEO of franchise development company Fransmart, said, “If brands reopen now, they have to think about how they can reopen safely so that if something happens [with coronavirus] in the fall, they’re not shut down again. Customers need to trust the brand. They need to be thinking, ‘This is where I want to go and I trust that they’ll keep me safe.’”

On the other side of the coronavirus crisis, building that consumer confidence will begin with enhanced safety procedures. That means franchisees need to start communicating with their customers now—if they aren’t already—to ensure that everyone is aware of any changes or enhancements being made.

“When things open back up—which will be determined state-by-state and franchisee-by-franchisee—we want to take into consideration the concerns that franchisees have about their health, their staff’s health and the health of their customers,” said Paul Pickett, chief development officer for Wild Birds Unlimited*. “We are developing step-by-step best practices in regards to cleanliness and we’ve already begun sourcing out supplies to keep the community safe and sound. We’ll be working closely with our franchisees to implement a safe and thoughtful in-store experience.”

Customers will also be eager for news on grand reopening events. While the dates for those events may be uncertain, franchisees can use this time to start planning.

“We’re well into marketing campaigns on all different platforms to promote our grand reopenings, including social, email, paid ads and postcards that can be launched at different times throughout the U.S. and Canada,” said Pickett. “We’re also working closely with our vendors to ensure supply chain continuity.”

Another way in which franchise brands can prepare for the reopening of their businesses is by prepping their brick and mortar locations for the return of guests. This has the potential to impact business operations as well—for example, gyms may need to offer more classes to make up for smaller capacity limits.

“Our fitness team is 100% rehauling our whole process on the back end, including how many people can be working out, how far apart then need to be and how that impacts utilization and overall occupancy,” said Tatum Crews, director of sales and marketing for REGYMEN Fitness. “We are also preparing for more workouts on schedule to accommodate our member bases with social distancing in place. From a sanitary aspect, we’re all pitching in to create different documentation of enhanced cleaning procedures so that our members are aware of the steps we’re taking to ensure that they’re going back to a clean and healthy environment.”

While business operations will look different moving forward, the steps that brands take now to position themselves for long-term success are critical. Even though states’ reopening dates may be moving targets, it’s better for business owners to be prepared so they can act quickly when the time comes.

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