Franchise Development: Now Is the Time To Prepare a Post–Covid-19 Plan
Covid-19 has affected every dimension of the U.S. economy including franchising, and within franchising, the development function specifically. Whether you are an established or mature franchisor, a growing franchisor, an emerging franchisor, or a startup concept, franchise development has changed. Some of these changes will be short term and revert to normal once the crisis passes, while others are systemic and will be long-lasting. Understanding what these changes are – and how to adapt to them – is critical to the future growth of your business.
To be ready to move forward quickly and effectively with franchise development when the economy reopens, it is advisable to prepare a strategic readiness plan centered around answering the following questions:
- What is the gap between today and how you were operating pre–Covid-19?
- How you will need to operate post–Covid-19?
- How will you get there?
Everything must be up for change
By conducting an assessment of your franchise development practices and preparing a plan that you are ready to execute once your business is allowed to reopen, fully or in part. This assessment must be an honest self-evaluation of your business, at both the franchisor and franchisee level, and cover areas of your development function.
This means your franchise recruitment activities, your sales process, your ideal franchisee profile, your FDD, your practices for identifying and securing locations and territories, your prototype, your team, your processes and procedures, and, ultimately, your goals and projections for new sales and new openings. All of this is up for discussion and should be looked at with clear eyes and a bias toward change.
A great place to start is to ask yourself a few questions like the following:
- What would I do differently if I were starting all over again?
- How has my business changed?
- What assumptions was I making before Covid-19 that are no longer valid?
- What assumptions am I making now about life after Covid-19 – and what happens if those assumptions prove wrong?
Align with all departments
These questions must be asked across all of your development activities – and across your organization so that going forward you can ensure alignment between development and the rest of the organization. While there was always pressure on the development team to generate new franchisees and unit openings, that pressure could very well increase, now that franchisors have suffered a drop in revenues from loss of royalties to fewer or delayed new openings.
The risk here is that this pressure could lead to exacerbating the same mistakes that have plagued many franchisors for years: choosing the wrong franchisees, sites, and territories to achieve short-term objectives. Don’t let that happen. Take the time to assess your business and build a plan for long-term success.
Jeff Sturgis is Founder and President of Franchise System Advisors, a strategic consulting and advisory firm focused on a franchisor’s long-term, sustainable success. Reach him at 954-205-7351 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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