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How the Sky Zone Franchise is Surviving the COVID-19 Pandemic

1851 Franchise sat down with the trampoline park franchise’s CMO, Josh Cole, to learn how the brand is navigating the current situation, supporting franchisees and preparing to reopen on the other side of the crisis.

The COVID-19 crisis has put a universal strain on businesses across the globe. It’s especially challenging for brands that are built on in-person services—to survive the pandemic and continue to engage customers, these businesses have been forced to pivot their operations and make changes in weeks that are typically done in months or even years. 

One brand that’s changed its operations throughout this crisis is Sky Zone. When the pandemic started to spread rapidly, CMO Josh Cole says the trampoline park franchise immediately reevaluated what needed to be done in order to provide support for its guests, ultimately helping to secure business for franchisees down the line.

Cole noted, “Our first instincts were to ask two questions: how can we help our Guests in a moment of anxiety and need? And, how can we continue to connect with our Guests so we stay a part of their lives even if our parks are temporarily closed?”

To answer those questions, Sky Zone rolled out three strategies. First, the brand introduced free virtual birthday parties via Zoom video calls that are coordinated and led by expert Party Pros. Second, Sky Zone began creating content, including a catalog of active play ideas for parents and kids to do while stuck at home and social media contests. Lastly, the brand rolled out a new Sky Zone mobile game that’s available for free through Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

“An underlying theme to these initiatives was the knowledge that if we could offer genuine value and utility during a challenging moment, we’d make a positive contribution to our Guests’ current lives while also building long-term goodwill for the Sky Zone brand,” said Cole.

Another way in which Sky Zone is surviving COVID-19 is by thinking long-term and preparing to reopen on the other side of the crisis. Cole added, “We are actively preparing for upcoming reopenings so our Franchise Partners are well-positioned to have highly-successful starts. The reopening plans cross all functional lines—marketing is tightly aligned with operations, training, finance to create well-coordinated and clearly communicated plans for our Franchise Partners and their park Guests. In addition, we are constantly working closely with the relevant health departments, in compliance with their required protocol to ensure Guest safety and health.”

While Sky Zone is doing all that it can to set franchisees, employees and guests up for success on the other side of COVID-19, Cole acknowledges that there are still a lot of unknowns as to what the business landscape will look like moving forward.

“There remain many unanswered questions that will impact every business,” said Cole. “Will employment bounce back? Will family budgets be extra tight while paying off debt? On the other hand, will we see higher ends of the market stay local this summer instead of traveling? If so, that will result in more spending at local entertainment venues. We have begun and will continue conducting guest research to understand the answers to these questions better and will stay nimble to change course as needed.” 

Ultimately, Cole and the Sky Zone team are remaining optimistic when it comes to the future of franchising. While the timing is uncertain, they predict the industry will make a strong comeback.

“Overall though, financially challenging times often lead to an increased interest in franchising,” said Cole. “Layoffs and uncertainty in general causes people to question career paths and look for new directions. This creates an opportunity for strong networks to expand with new franchisees.”