Franchises band together to combat this international crisis.
In order to keep you abreast of ongoing developments in the franchise industry, we’ll be posting regular news round-ups in relation to COVID-19 and the impact it’s having on various brands. Make sure to check back frequently for regular news, insight from business experts, and everything else you need to know.
9Round goes digital
Fitness franchises like 9Round have been adapting to the growing concerns around quarantine by offering members at-home workouts via expert training videos updated regularly. These can be accessed through the 9Round members portal, and will allow participants to achieve their fitness goals while remaining safe at home.
“Our daily lives are changing, and businesses need to step up and change as well,” said Shannon Hudson, founder and CEO. “But we don’t want to sacrifice our health, either. In fact, it’s more important than ever.”
One day after these videos were launched, 9Round saw its biggest engagement in company history.
Getting ahead of communication challenges
Rebbeca Newenham, owner of the GetAhead virtual agency, shared some valuable advice on how businesses can continue to achieve results while working from home:
“As business owners and franchisors we have a duty of care to be positive for our team and clients. We have to continue to market our businesses but also be agile and adapt to the changing world around us. For me, communication is key at the moment – calling my team, offering video calls – we are having a weekly virtual coffee morning every Monday at 10am for any of the team that want to connect and catch up.
“All my networking has moved online and we need to really maximise the online channels of communication. A word of warning though: do limit yourself and set a timer as you could find time running away with you so you need to be focussed and have a goal every time you go online!”
Entrepreneurs predict prosperity
In a survey of entrepreneurs conducted by Franchise Insights, it was revealed that 39 per cent of respondents believed business conditions would improve in the next three months, and 54 per cent believe that the next three months would be a “good time” to start a new business.
Surprisingly, only 18 per cent of respondents said that they have put business startup plans on hold for now, with 19.1 per cent stating that the current epidemic is an issue that will be resolved before they start their new business venture.
Ronn Torossian, CEO and founder of 5WPR and a crisis management expert, shared his thoughts on what CEOs could do to lessen fears and help those in need:
“It goes without saying that the human impact and health concerns of the outbreak are the biggest priority. But as the uncertainty surrounding this pandemic continues, the way brands approach this crisis is top of mind for many CEOs. We’ve witnessed the rippling effects of the media over the last few weeks.
“For many people, their greatest source of anxiety has been the process of watching the news unfold— with information, and misinformation, fueling panic and distress. Fear and uncertainty breeds mass hysteria. Right now, people need a voice of reason, and brands and their leaders have an opportunity to be that voice. First and foremost, communication is key. Now is not the time to stay silent with employees, customers, and stakeholders. Regular communication alleviates concerns and provides reassurance.
“CEOs need to ask themselves: how can we be useful right now? What service/information can we provide that will help those who may be in need? It could mean offering free shipping to help support them, or sending weekly emails just checking in. Either way, brands need to use this time to commit to a crisis communications strategy that informs, educates, reassures customers, and earns their trust.”
The Strings Club supports families at home
The Strings Club, an award-winning musical education franchise, has established several pillars of support to enable children and their families to continue their musical education from the comfort of their own home.
A daily blog from Monday, March 23, will provide ideas for activities that are designed to inspire creativity and facilitate learning. Morning and afternoon online music sessions will also engage students, as well as online concerts catering to both children and their parents (with parent-focused performances from 9pm).
One-to-one sessions can also be arranged, and online mindfulness sessions are in the pipeline to ensure wellbeing.
Australia to keep small businesses afloat
The Australian government has released the details of its long-awaited coronavirus stimulus package, with which it will pledge $17.6bn to bolster the economy in the face of the ongoing global pandemic.
The package, which represents about one per cent of the Aussie GDP, includes cash grants of up to $25,000 for small businesses, and a significant temporary extension to the instant asset write-off scheme.
Businesses with a turnover of up to $50m that employ staff in the period between January 1 and June 30, 2020, will be eligible for the $25,000 payout scheme.
Starbucks bans bring-your-own cups from U.S. stores
In a move to combat contamination, Starbucks has banned ceramic mugs and reusable cups from all U.S. stores. The stores will still provide a 10-cent discount for anyone who brings in their own cup or asks for a mug, but customers then be given a sanitary paper cup.
“Our focus remains on two key priorities: caring for the health and wellbeing of our partners and customers, and playing a constructive role in supporting local health officials and government leaders as they work to contain the virus,” said Rossann Williams, executive vice president of U.S. retail.
Chipotle tests unlimited paid time off for senior staff
While everybody is susceptible to COVID-19, the elderly seem to have been hit especially hard. In light of this, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced unlimited paid time off for the fast-casual franchise’s senior-level management, which will allow employees to juggle priorities at work while still being able to support their families at home.
“Over the past year, we’ve positioned ourselves as a leader in curating an environment that maximizes the potential of our outstanding workforce,” said Marissa Andrada, Chipotle’s chief people officer. “We want to ensure our employees are able to share important moments with their family and have the necessary time away from work to recharge after a monumental life event.”
KFC introduces strict social distancing policies
Like several quick-service restaurant franchises, KFC has suspended eating-in at many locations, and instead offers only pick-up and drive-through options for customers. As a further precaution, the chicken franchise will soon be testing “kerbside service,” where employees will deliver click and collect orders to customers in the car park.
“While we’ve temporarily suspended eating-in at our restaurants, fans of KFC will still be able to come in to order, but only to pick-up and use drive-through,” said Nikki Lawson, CEO for KFC Australia and New Zealand.
Bring Joy Foundation launches ‘Keep Busy, Keep Active’ campaign
Home Instead, a U.K.-based care franchise that focuses on caring for seniors in their own homes, has launched a ‘Keep Busy, Keep Active’ campaign to ensure seniors stay busy, entertained, and mentally active during these turbulent times.
The campaign will generate vital income which will then be distributed through a streamlined grant application process to local community groups and Home Instead offices, used by local groups to buy entertainment items such as puzzles, books, crosswords, and e-books, as well communication tools and assistive technology for seniors with specific needs and disabilities.
Further information about the campaign can be found here.