Innovation Strategies as Franchise Businesses Continue to Adapt to COVID-19

By Kent Franchise Law Group

The second annual Franchise Innovation Awards were presented in late August to recognize franchise brands that are creating and implementing creative business strategies in four (4) categories: marketing and branding, operations, products and services, and human resources.  This year, more than ever, creativity and innovation has been paramount to the success of many businesses, as we all respond to the challenges COVID-19 has presented. Not surprisingly, many of the awards were granted to systems that successfully rose to such challenges and have experienced success despite the unprecedented business climate.

Many of this year’s winners used technology in new ways to continue business operations during state mandated shut-downs, to communicate with customers about changes to their business, and to support their target demographic in new ways. For example, one winner partnered with an existing app to provide virtual workouts to its customers when they could not physically attend classes or workouts at their gyms. Another used a proactive and targeted marketing campaign to alert customers to its heightened safety measures and its contactless take-out and delivery options early on in the pandemic, so its customers felt safe continuing to order from its restaurant. One winner launched a service-based marketing campaign, where a portion of sales was given to a charity combating hunger, to highlight the franchisor’s core value of giving back, both pre-pandemic and during the pandemic.

Others launched digital, consumer-level tools, which enhanced the customer experience and minimized in-person contact. These included scheduling appointments via text messaging, mobile and other contactless-ordering, and creating digital video brochures and menus.

Also recognized were franchisors who implemented innovations in their employee training, recruiting, and franchisee support. These awards were granted to systems that improved customer experience top-down — by finding new ways to train and support franchisees struggling to succeed during the pandemic, and growing the system, despite limitations on travel and personal contact. Some tactics implemented by the winners were: developing a certification program with job opportunities for those who complete it, creating an online marketplace for formerly in-person concepts, implementing budgeting, bookkeeping and other operational support for franchisees, and encouraging flexible scheduling for employees, team member discounts, tiered employee benefits and gifts for high performing employees, a clear schedule for raises, and continuing education classes.

Congratulations to the innovators recognized in this year’s ceremony. If your business is seeking assistance with implementing new techniques to adapt to the changing business landscape, please contact me us for additional information about how we have assisted clients through the challenges of 2020, and for ideas on ways to enhance your business in this current climate.