COVID-19, the disease caused by the Coronavirus, has been dominating the media since the beginning of 2020. The number of cases is rising daily and analysts are predicting that ‘many thousands’ in the UK will contract the disease. This will undoubtedly have a profound effect on businesses, and the franchising sector is no exception. Franchise operations in China have already been affected by severe disruption, with many foreign franchisors closing their branches in China since the outbreak was first reported.
We’ve had several, worried franchisors contact us recently regarding COVID-19 and the potential, adverse effects on their businesses. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably part of our fantastic AFA Community, and, whether you’re a member or partner, I just want to assure you of our full and continued support during these troubled times.
This global pandemic will create many challenges for businesses, and the economic effects of COVID-19 on franchising must be monitored and addressed in order to protect the sector. Franchise owners will need to be prepared to provide additional advice and support to their franchisees to ensure their businesses have the best chance of surviving the bumpy road ahead.
While many franchisors and franchisees are already reporting a decline in sales and are, understandably, extremely concerned about cash flow, as well as the safety of their employees and clients, I’d like to ask you all to TRY NOT TO PANIC. While it’s bound to be a tough couple of months economically, this situation will eventually pass, and I don’t foresee it having permanent, detrimental effects on the sector, as long as we all weather the storm together in the calmest and most efficient manner possible.
As the owner and franchisor of Extra Help, my concern goes out to our clients, who are often elderly and vulnerable. I’m extremely proud of my franchisees for supporting and reassuring their clients to the best of their ability and sharing best practices with each other regarding communication with our home helpers and clients.
I’m personally training three new franchisees this week, and am hoping this will still go ahead, so they can get on with the important tasks involved with launching their new businesses. However, I’m aware that franchise recruitment may well be affected for everyone, myself included, during this period of economic uncertainty so, if you’re a franchisor, now could be a good time to concentrate your efforts on:
- Reviewing your hygiene and employment policies and implementing any new procedures, in line with current recommendations, to stay safe and protect your employees and clients
- Closely monitoring your supply chain and checking for potential disruption
- Keeping the lines of communication with your franchisees open at all times – sometimes just being available to listen and understand is enough
- Revisiting your franchise model and marketing and making any necessary changes
- Using the time to attract and talk to potential franchisees, as you may well have a captive audience on ‘lock down’!
- Determining your growth plans for Q4 of this year – setting the panic aside and focusing on the long term
Update on Forthcoming Events
Whilst writing, I thought it would be a good idea to provide you with the latest update on the events the AFA is either running or involved with. As current advice from the government is to now avoid all non-essential social contact, all of our meetings will be delayed until mid-May, by which time it should be safer to congregate. Please visit our website www.afa.org.uk/events for up to date information.
In the meantime, we have created online spaces and groups for our members to continue to communicate with each other while we are experiencing this ‘lock down’. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The Franchise Show 2020 has been postponed from 3-4 April until 4th-5th September. The AFA continues to support this event and will be attending on the revised dates. More information here: https://www.thefranchiseshow.co.uk/news/blog.asp?blog_id=24194
The AFA Awards Ceremony is still scheduled for 12th November. The Awards are open for entry from 30th March, please visit our website www.theafa.org.uk for more information.
The AFA Conference has been postponed until 7th December and will be immediately followed by The AFA Christmas Party. Book for both events here:
If you run a franchise company that is being adversely affected by COVID-19 and need some advice or support, please contact the AFA on 01604 532 533 and we will do our very best to guide and reassure you. If required, we can also put you in touch with firms who will provide you with expert advice during this challenging time.
Stay safe, keep calm and carry on!
Until next time,
Chief Executive Officer