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How Franchise Brands Are Stepping Up to Be a Part of the Solution During the Coronavirus Crisis

Brands across all segments of the franchising industry are finding new and innovative ways to support local business owners both during and after the pandemic.

There isn’t a business model that hasn’t been impacted by COVID-19. From restaurants being forced to temporarily close their doors to service brands needing to find ways to reach customers while they’re at home, franchise brands across the globe have been forced to pivot over the past few months in ways they had never considered before. Despite the challenges that coronavirus presents, franchise brands across all segments of the industry are finding ways to step up and present solutions.

One of the biggest things that franchise brands have done for their local owners is provide financial relief. Whether it’s deferring royalties or helping with rent, franchisors are finding ways to help franchisees cut costs during this trying time. Some businesses are even helping their franchise partners expand to new areas of the business for a reduced rate. 

Property Management Inc., for example, has four pillars within its franchise system—residential, commercial, association and short-term rental. Danessa Itaya, president of Property Management Inc., said in an interview with 1851, “Normally, there’s a fee for franchisees who want to expand their business and break into another pillar, but we’ve waived that for now. If franchisees want to expand and pick up another type of business, we’ll offer virtual training to get them up and running as soon as possible.” 

Franchisors are also finding ways to increase their communication efforts. Wild Birds Unlimited* set up a coronavirus hotline to ensure that no franchisee question was missed or overlooked. “In addition to the hotline number, we set up a specific coronavirus email address so that all of our franchisee requests are received,” said chief development officer, Paul Pickett, in an interview with 1851 Franchise. “That’s helped us focus on the urgent emails and calls that need to be streamlined. We also have a schedule of who monitors that inbox and hotline on a regular basis so that we can be more productive internally.”

In addition to financial assistance and enhanced communication, franchise brands that traditionally offer their services in-person are now turning to technology to reach consumers. Brands like Sylvan Learning*, which offered free, live mini camps for elementary, middle and high school students from April 20 to 24, are providing virtual services to anyone who wants them, regardless of whether or not they were clients before.

“With many parents becoming teachers overnight, Sylvan is doing everything we can to alleviate some of the stress that comes with juggling homeschooling and working from home,” Amy Pryzwara, chief marketing officer for Sylvan Learning, said in a release. “Whether a child is behind or wants to excel through enrichment programming, Sylvan wants to help guide children to explore and grow. Parents can put on one of these classes and feel confident that their kids are learning from and engaging with a live teacher—and get some guilt-free time to catch up on the work and household tasks that have piled up.”

Another way in which franchisors are stepping up is through working with vendor partners in order to better serve and engage customers. For example, REGYMEN Fitness reached out to its vendors to create equipment bundles that help members complete their workouts at home with kettlebells, slam balls and dumbbells. 

Tatum Crews, director of sales and marketing for REGYMEN, told 1851, “One of the hardest things about working out at home is a potential lack of equipment. That’s why we reached out to Perform Better and TRX. Through these partnerships, we’re selling equipment bundles with the basics to best set our members up for success with our virtual workouts. It goes hand-in-hand with our digital presence and will help our members stay active until we can open our gyms again.”

Ultimately, the ways in which franchise brands react and adapt to this crisis now will determine how successful they’ll be on the other side of the pandemic. By providing solutions and being forward-thinking with their responses, franchisors have the opportunity to come back stronger than they were at the beginning of the year.

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