What parent companies are doing for franchisees & customers
Franchising has taken a particularly big hit in the economic downturn that came along with COVID-19 lockdowns. Given the location of many fast food restaurants in shopping centres or their status as nonessential businesses, many franchises had to shutter their doors. In a $180 billion a year industry employing half a million workers throughout Australia, that’s taken a toll and franchisees have had to look to their parent company for assistance. Some franchisors have gone to great lengths to keep their franchisees and customers afloat.
“There’s no doubt the COVID-19 crisis has hit the hospitality industry hard, and with many of our franchisees being small business owners we recognise they are hurting,” the chain’s Asia-Pacific CEO Trent Fraser said. “We appreciate the commitment that our hotel owners have to their staff, guests, and communities, and we are taking action to support them with tools and resources to assist with daily operations, to help address issues impacting guests, and ultimately help a return to recovery as we move through this situation.”
The international franchisor suspended reputation management and guest relations handling fees, in addition to assisting individual hotels with bookings and cancellations. They also paused quality assurance reviews since some governmental requirements caused hotels to stray from brand standards and issued new guidelines for disinfection. The parent company helped franchisees get creative, with several Australia properties launching a “work from hotel” day-use option as a respite from the craziness of home. Just what we’d want from a hotel.
The printing franchisor spearheaded the Bounce Back Australia initiative, which both distributes free COVID-19 awareness and prevention posters to businesses in a particular store’s service area and provides free local advertising on the Bounce Back Australia website.
The idea came from Nashville franchisee John Taylor in the US and was a smash hit with the parent company. “We are going to support each other during this time. The response has been absolutely incredible. Everybody is in. Nobody wants to see themselves suffer and everybody has the same community spirit. It has been embraced like I couldn’t have imagined.”
The home pool and spa retailers remained open, as servicing pools prevents the spread of harmful bacteria. When making house calls, Poolwerx can service pools and spas free of contact from residents, and customers picking up chemicals and other supplies have them loaded into their car boots. The parent company has stayed in daily contact with franchisees and developed a support system if necessary.
“We also have in place a store shutdown procedure, so if some of our businesses need to go into hibernation, they have a step-by-step guide to support them through rent, vehicle leases, utilities, etc.,” founder and CEO John O’Brien told Business Franchise Australia. “Our in-house real estate manager is prepared to approach landlords should we need to, to work with them on a rent reduction program.”
The fast casual Japanese restaurant developed a meal kit called “Kyoto” for contactless delivery and purchase in supermarkets. “We are very pleased to be able to bring new products to alternative channels and keep our team and production facility in operation,” Motto Motto Group managing director William Liu said, We are providing contactless home delivery of Kyoto meal kits and are seeking to bring Kyoto to independent supermarkets and grocers where they know their customers don’t just want convenience, but also restaurant quality food when dining from the safety and comfort of their own home.”
Knowing frontline healthcare workers were working long, exhausting hours and unable to return to their families for fear of exposing them to the novel coronavirus, the parent company developed Quest Healthcare Assist, an app allowing doctors and nurses to book self-contained apartments at heavily discounted rates.
“Australia’s healthcare professionals are doing an outstanding job, working on the front lines to help treat people affected by Coronavirus and flatten the curve,” Quest COO David Masfield said. “These people are often needing to self-isolate between shifts in order to protect their own loved ones and communities—it’s an enormous sacrifice they’re making so we wanted to do something to help.”
The app also facilitates room service via Deliveroo and grocery ordering via Quest Pantry Service.