How signs and graphics have taken centre stage during the pandemic | Global Franchise
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Friday 7th October, 2022

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How signs and graphics have taken centre stage during the pandemic

Insight

How signs and graphics have taken centre stage during the pandemic

Why franchisors need to take notice of the often-missed opportunities for franchisees to use signs and visuals to prosper in this unique time

Why franchisors need to take notice of the often-missed opportunities for franchisees to use signs and visuals to prosper in this unique time.

It’s amazing how quickly franchisees can adapt to new ways of doing things. Six months ago, no one had ever entered a shop or store to see signs requesting all customers stay at least six feet apart or use face masks. Now we all depend on signs and graphics posted at restaurants, offices and other workplaces to everyone safe, and to prevent another costly shutdown in the fall or winter.

This evolution has put print, signs, and graphics franchises in a unique position to help franchisees from other industries reopen and regrow in the face of COVID-19. Franchisors are guiding their franchise networks on how to use signs and graphics to communicate with customers and employees.

We’re proud that our franchisees are helping other franchise businesses survive this challenging economic period. But we are also seeing many franchises with locations all over North America and in other countries fail to take advantage of signs and graphics as an essential tool for the foreseeable future, to both keep customers and employees safe and to grow their business. Franchisors can help lead the way, providing guidance for their franchise owners.

Below are three often- missed opportunities for franchisees to use signs, graphics and visuals to prosper in this unique time, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Make policies impossible to ignore

The first thing a customer or employee should see at the entrance to a franchise location are new COVID-era policies regarding health and safety. These signs need to be clear and legible, but most importantly they need to be impossible to overlook.

By making new rules an unavoidable reality for all members of the community, franchisees can streamline communication between employees and customers. It can be a daunting task for employees to monitor and remind customers about social distancing or mask policies, and can even result in conflict. Franchisors should encourage their network to get ahead of any misunderstandings by making these signs front and center in your entrance.

This doesn’t mean a franchisee should paper his or her entire establishment with entreaties to please maintain six feet of distance. If entrepreneurs are strategic in where they place signs, and clear in the language, one professionally produced sign can do the job of dozens of hand-written pieces of paper tacked up on the walls.

Showcase professionalism

A picture is often said to be worth a thousand words; a sign can often speak even more, especially when it comes to a franchise location. All franchisees should make sure the signs they’re using in a COVID world show that they’re a business with clear expectations for how customers, employees and the community should interact.

More than being just informational, COVID-related signs should demonstrate that above all, a franchisee’s business is professional and polite. We are all adjusting, and many business owners may be frustrated and on edge. Never let those anxieties bleed into the messaging in COVID-related graphics.

It’s perfectly acceptable to be firm in your wording, but there’s no need to be confrontational with elements such as excess exclamation points, all-caps, bright red font or accusatory language. Hold back from using signs to yell or scold people. Whether you are trying to communicate policies for customers or reminders to employees in a break room, assume best intentions, and that we’re all trying our best to navigate a sometimes daunting new normal.

Visualize your franchise’s connection to the community

There are so many ways to use signs and graphics to give thanks, provide comfort and show support. Signs can be a poignant way for franchisees to illustrate the heart and emotion at the core of their business, by showing support for the communities they serve.

Saying thank you to those who are keeping our lives running shows your business cares about all the people who make up a small business community. Front line workers, medical professionals, first responders – there are many heroes that have emerged in our communities, and there are many ways to show your business’s support.

Signs are also your chance to show empathy for those whose lives have been disrupted by the pandemic. How can you use a sign to show your business cares about people who are struggling? Perhaps a yard sign encouraging children who are adjusting to remote education alongside teachers and school personnel, or simply a heartfelt banner that we’re all in this together. Now is the time for genuine expressions of emotion, and graphic displays are an excellent way to send that message.

There are endless ways franchisees can use yard signs, banners, and decals to show appreciation for some of these groups, even if it’s just calling out a deal or special you might be offering for teachers or nurses. Don’t let your franchise system miss an opportunity to show community members that your brand is with them, even when things are difficult.

It’s a reality that the way franchisees from all industries do business has changed as a result of the pandemic. It has never been more crucial to communicate clearly with customers and employees, and signs and graphics are one of the clearest ways to do that.

While the last six months have been a challenge for many franchisees, there are ways to make it easier. Putting new guidelines for customers and employees front and center, being professional in your message and showing support for the local community are cost-effective ways to use the sudden need for signs to the advantage of any franchisee.

Franchisors can set an example that helps franchisees see signs as an opportunity, rather than an annoying new necessity. They can guide franchisees in how to integrate visuals into everyday operations in a way that not only helps maintain business but may even help the franchise grow and thrive despite the pandemic.

THE AUTHOR

Mike Cline is the vice president of franchise development for Alliance Franchise Brands.

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