Innovation Has Been Reinvented
Covid-19 has left its mark in every corner of the world, and franchising is no exception. Brands everywhere have been forced to look for ways to stem financial losses, adjust business models, meet customer needs, stanch losses, invent new revenue streams, and, in too many cases, simply to come out alive. For many brands this year, innovation has been the lifeblood of their survival.
So when we chose to extend the deadline for our 2nd annual Franchise Innovation Awards competition—twice!—it was clearly with Covid-19 in mind. How were brands developing and using technology and innovation to weather the crisis? What future plans did they rush off the shelves and into action on an accelerated timetable?
By extending the deadline, we gave franchise brands the opportunity to share their stories—and a little more time to adjust to the effects of the virus, share the problems they encountered, and evaluate the solutions they came up with during the worst global pandemic in more than 100 years.
In this issue, we cover these awards extensively, highlighting innovation in franchising, but this year in a radically different environment. As the Internet shook up business as usual in the mid-1990s, the coronavirus in 2020 also has “changed everything,” again with no clear idea of what the future will hold as the coronavirus resurges across the U.S. South and West.
Despite all, entries poured in: 113 in 19 different categories describing innovative initiatives and campaigns in four areas: Marketing & Branding, Operations, Products & Services, and HR. As you’ll see, creativity, disruption, and adaptation were abundant—and so were the results (and ROI). Some of the biggest (and smallest) brands turned to innovation and technology, not only to gain an edge on the competition, but just to make it through the pandemic in one piece.
Our panel of 8 judges evaluated all entries this year, examining their objectives, the problem(s) they sought to solve, their goals, and the improvements they hoped to achieve through innovation. If you missed out on submitting an entry this year, now’s the time to think about next year’s competition.
Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find our columnists and contributors continuing to write about how the pandemic is affecting franchising, its people, and its future. International franchising, sales, lead development, real estate, customer service, hiring, and more are all explored here.
In other news, we’ve also rescheduled our annual Multi-Unit Franchising Conference to next year, April 6–9, 2021 at Caesars Forum in Las Vegas. As valuable as it is meeting in person to explore opportunities—as well as reconnect with friends and acquaintances face to face (remember hugs, even handshakes?)—the safety and health of all attendees was paramount in our decision, as we’re sure it is in yours as you reopen, reclose, and navigate your brand through this crisis.
All of us are hopeful that we can soon put Covid-19 in the rearview mirror. Until then, we must remain diligent, support one other as best we can—franchisees and their employees, corporate staff and management, and customers—and simply do what’s necessary to get through this, healthy and alive.
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