bannerFranchise News

Franchises Are Concerned About Delta-Variant Shutdowns

Another COVID-19 shutdown would put a financial strain on franchises just as many are starting to recover, but all of them are better equipped this time around.

By Justin Wick1851 Franchise Contributor
Updated 10:10AM 08/11/21

Just as most franchises were beginning to recover from the first round of COVID-19 shutdowns, another slate of restrictions threatens to upend the consumer landscape once again.

On Monday, Restaurant Business Online’s Peter Romeo wrote, “About 9 out of 10 restaurateurs are worried the delta strain of the coronavirus will derail the industry’s comeback.” He noted that consumer fear, workplace closures and a jump in positive COVID-19 cases are top concerns for restaurants.

The restaurant industry’s fear is justifiably greater than other businesses. The industry was all but decimated during the initial wave of shutdowns. “Across all small businesses, more than 47% fear that the upsurge in COVID-19 cases will trigger another wave of business restrictions and shutdowns,” Romeo wrote.

Many franchises are now staring down this imminent threat again and must devise a plan to deliver to customers if virus mandates are reinstated.

Fortunately for franchises, they know what they’re getting into this time around. The creativity phase is over — it already happened — and they won’t be blindsided like they were at the beginning of the 2020 shutdown.

Nobody really knew what to expect at the beginning of the initial COVID-19 wave, and franchises were forced to think on their toes for ways to draw in consumers. It wasn’t ideal, but it allowed some franchisors to find creative ways to thicken their revenue stream. At-home delivery, enhanced drive thru service and socially-distanced seating were just a few of the provisions that franchises were forced to fall back on.

Some solutions have remained as the country began to open back up. For some businesses, those solutions could make another shutdown look more like a minor business inconvenience and less like a full-on crisis.

If another shutdown is on the horizon, franchises can at least revert to a business model they explored last year. While many of those 2020 provisions weren’t ideal for revenue, they can at least provide a roadmap for franchises to make projections on.

Basic business strategy will have to change again if a shutdown is put back in place, but some franchises could see additional strain if they believed the shutdowns were gone for good. A post-COVID urban revival exists for both consumers and businesses on the other side of a pandemic, and some franchises may have jumped at an opportunity in a big city with the belief that COVID-19 shutdowns were a thing of the past.