Joe Hart, CEO of the international training franchise, Dale Carnegie, discusses the importance of webinars, managing a worldwide franchise network and showing strong leadership in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
GF: How are your webinars being received?
JH: For the Engage Your Students in Live Online Learning webinar for teachers, we’ve heard from many of our franchisees that teachers and educational staff are excited for the additional resource. We know that there’s a serious need for this kind of support for teachers, most of whom are teaching remotely for the first time. For the Handling Stress and Supporting Resilience in Times of Crisis event, this too is a very relevant topic today and something that our founder, Dale Carnegie, wrote a lot about in his book titled How to Stop Worrying and Start Living — we’ve seen a wave of downloads and people registering to view it at home. Our hope is that both resources provide concrete tools and methods for everyone impacted to manage stress and anxiety.
GF: In what other ways has Dale Carnegie had to diversify its offering or systems in response to the coronavirus pandemic?
JH: Our main focus has been enhancing and expanding our Live Online training globally. We’ve always been a resource for businesses who need training and expertise on leading remote teams, but with so many of our franchise owners in areas impacted by stay-at-home orders and quarantines, it has pushed us to make our webinars and digital offerings more robust than ever before. It’s allowed our franchisees to go to clients who were considering canceling in-person training and instead be able to offer them remotely.
GF: As a globe-spanning organization, which of the territories Dale Carnegie operates in have been most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis?
JH: What we’ve seen from this pandemic is that no global region is immune to the impact. Of course, our franchise owners in China were the first hit, and as the pandemic spread in Asia, we needed to act fast to find ways to pivot and adapt our curriculum, so our franchise owners could maintain any kind of revenue. The good news is we’re able to use those learnings now in Europe and North America. However, offering more online courses will not solve the impact COVID-19 will have on local economies and businesses, so we are constantly working with our franchisees to provide guidance and support to continue to run their businesses during this challenging time.
GF: As a franchisor, how have you supported your franchise network during this difficult time?
JH: When the pandemic first picked up speed in China, we assembled a task force to manage our response. We worked directly with each global region, providing daily updates on where things stood, how we were adapting curriculum to allow more Live Online training, and what resources were available to franchisees. We built an online library of resources for franchisees, and I make it a point to check in personally with our franchise system through videos and email.
GF: What advice do you have for other franchisors and CEOs that are encountering a challenging business environment?
JH: We can never lose sight of the human element at the core of everything we do. That’s always been a core philosophy for Dale Carnegie, but it’s more important now than ever before. This is more than just a potentially unstable market or global economy. People’s safety is at risk, and all business decisions need to be made against that backdrop — what is the best for the people involved; franchisees, customers and local communities. I would advise CEOs to make themselves as accessible as possible, and to be proactive with updates and communications. Now is the time for franchisors to show their franchisee system why being part of a network matters, and how it can support each franchise owner through even the most challenging of circumstances.