Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Authority Brands Is Open and Recruiting
We asked Mike Pearce, Chief Development Officer at Authority Brands, how Covid-19 has changed his company’s franchise development strategy for its seven home service brands: The Cleaning Authority, Homewatch CareGivers, Mosquito Squad, America’s Swimming Pool Co., Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, and Mister Sparky Electric. All were declared essential businesses. Here’s what he had to say.
Covid-19 has been an important factor in changing our strategy for franchise development. The extraordinary time we are living through has created a unique circumstance that opens up opportunities for the dream of business ownership. Essential services have taken on a new meaning as a result of the pandemic, especially as businesses were forced to temporarily shut their doors for the safety of their employees, customers, and communities. Tens of millions of Americans are out of work, which has created an environment where people are asking themselves the question, “Should I consider doing something different For companies like Authority Brands, with a portfolio of seven home service brands, the field looks ready to harvest. We essentially have an opportunity for anyone.
Our services have been deemed essential and, for the most part, our brands and franchisees have remained open and operating the entire duration of the pandemic. Our trade brands are essential: people will not hesitate to call a plumber or an electrician if they need one. If your air conditioning is not functional, you will get that fixed as well. Mosquito Squad and America’s Swimming Pool Co. are focused on outdoor service and have minimal customer interaction. With people staying at home, their desire to use their outdoor living space is greater than before. And Covid-19 has completely changed the perception of assisted living facilities, which makes in-home care a more likely solution.
I was asked by our board of directors if we should pull back on investment in franchise development or move forward, and what strategy would we take if we moved forward. The strategy I pitched was to move forward in a bold way. This is a point in time when many are considering a change in their professional lives, and we needed to take advantage of that. We updated our messaging, invested in marketing, and created a prospecting outreach program to invite people to consider the opportunities of a low-cost investment in an essential service business.
We also undertook a franchise broker outreach program. Our goal was to speak with as many franchise brokers as possible (on the phone!) and let them know that our brands were open and operating.
Our franchise development process had to change as well. We developed virtual “Meet Your Team” days for each brand and sought out new lending sources that understood the new environment. The franchise development team also took the lead in providing essential information to our franchisees and prospects on the SBA lending environment, including individual phone consultations and daily communication on PPP loan acquisition and forgiveness, and capital availability through other programs and new loans.
The outcome: Lead flow is strong, we have a growing pipeline, and we are closing on new franchise license agreements each week. We are on track to grow a number of our brands at a pace not previously met.
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