Franchising Tips to Surviving in a Post-Pandemic World
We are over two years removed from a global event that changed the business environment forever. The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm in 2020. Due to stay-at-home orders and the inability to interact face-to-face, revenue dropped for many companies while others were forced to shut down altogether. Those who survived were forced to pivot in unforeseen ways to find success during the apex of the pandemic.
Two years later, the social effects of the pandemic have relaxed. Most schools are back in session, concerts and other public events have resumed and social interaction has inched closer to pre-pandemic levels. With that said, franchises and other businesses will feel the effects of the pandemic for years to come.
Consumer and employee demands have changed as a direct result of the pandemic. Regarding the consumer, their expectations for the purchase and delivery of services have changed. Customers have grown accustomed to being able to access products and services quickly. While the pandemic has relaxed, those expectations have not with consumers making these demands commonplace.
For businesses, flexibility is the new norm. People became used to working from home, so it changed the way companies shared information, held meetings, marketed products, trained employees, onboarded new employees and many other business decisions. This has affected how companies hire new talent and retain current employees. It is important for franchisors to find ways to solve these new problems facing franchisees and offer tools to make their lives easier.
Assisting the Franchisees
At both the franchisee and consumer levels, it is paramount for franchisors to make decisions and develop strategies that help address changing needs. With many resignations taking place because of the pandemic, franchisees are faced with trying to hire new talent and maintain current employees. If the franchisor can provide guidance on hiring, retention, and marketing, it will help attract and keep talent. Additional benefits can help keep staff on board as well. For example, at AlphaGraphics, we began providing 3rd party health insurance options and alliances for franchisees and their staff. This not only shows our dedication to the franchisee, but it also shows we are committed to keeping their staff happy as well.
When it comes to supporting services, assisting franchisees with technology solutions is paramount in today’s business climate. Remember, customers want services on demand. They want to be able to purchase or access services with the simple click of a button. More and more people are demanding that for getting their products and services today. As franchisors, we must adapt and provide solutions that help our franchise owners attract this new type of customer. Online ordering or e-commerce solutions allow customers to purchase products or services right from their phone or smart device. The more franchise owners utilize technology, the easier they are making it for customers to do business and repeat business with their company.
Embrace the Pivot
One word that was heard often in the business community during the apex of the pandemic was pivot. Many businesses had to alter their way of doing business to stay relevant during a time when people couldn’t make face-to-face business transactions. For businesses to succeed moving forward, I believe that word is still going to be an essential part of life.
Showcasing how important it is for companies to think outside the box is one of the few positives that came out of the pandemic. It forced businesses and franchisors to constantly be open to new ways of doing business, and that is a lesson that will be vital moving forward. What’s static today may be completely different tomorrow. Even as the pandemic has slowed, businesses are continuing to find new ways to enhance their success.
Using AlphaGraphics as an example, we are on the verge of releasing a product that will enable franchisees to show customers the costs and images of what their re-branding decisions will look like in real time. This eliminates the guesswork and shows a customer what the finished product will look like before actual changes are made. This is an example of both utilizing technology and embracing the pivot. As franchisors, we can’t relax even if the effects of the pandemic have relaxed. We have to be constantly open to change, and that is one thing I would encourage all franchises to do moving forward.
Succeeding in the Post-Pandemic World
In March 2020, the business environment was changed forever. From changes in customer demand to ways of handling employee preferences and remote work, franchisors must address these issues and provide franchise owners with the necessary tools to succeed. Embracing technology and new ways of doing business can help set up owners and place them in a position to attract new customers while retaining loyal ones. In today’s fast-paced world, the ability for customers to quickly access and purchase services will go a long way in creating repeat and referral business.
As far as retaining employees in a post-pandemic world, it’s about franchisors and franchisees adapting to the desire for flexibility. Employees grew used to working remotely over the past two years, and flexibility has become a demand for many. Franchises that combat that desire or refuse to adapt will likely miss out on many employees moving forward. Franchisors must create solutions to solve this change or run the risk of high turnover. That’s what it will take to succeed in the post-pandemic business environment.
Bill McPherson is the vice president of franchise development for AlphaGraphics, a leading franchisor of printing and marketing solutions. With more than 285 locations in 6 countries, AlphaGraphics is one of the largest U.S.-based networks of locally-owned and operated Business Centers offering a complete range of print, visual communications, and marketing products. For more information, visit www.alphagraphics.com.