Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Q&A with Multi-Brand Franchisee David Ostrowe
As part of our ongoing coverage of Covid-19 and its effects on franchising, we’re asking franchisees what they’re doing to get through the crisis and come out the other side. If you’re a franchisee with a story to tell about what you’re doing to survive, help your employees, or inspire hope in other operators, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Ostrowe has been president of O&M Restaurant Group since 2005. He operates multiple Burger King restaurants in Oklahoma and Northern Louisiana, Blaze Pizza stores in Oklahoma and Arkansas, and Taco Bell locations in Oklahoma City. He also is the Secretary of Digital Transformation and Administration for Oklahoma. He has felt the effects of Covid-19 on his business with dramatic drops in revenue, and has shut his Blaze Pizza restaurants.
How has Covid-19 affected your business?
Taco Bell sales are down 30% and I had to hard close my Blaze Pizza restaurants, which were doing about $200 a day.
What are you doing right now to get through this?
We’ve cut labor accordingly and have frozen all non-essential purchases. I’ve applied for disaster funding and the PPP money. To date, I haven’t received anything.
Is your franchisor helping keep you afloat? How?
Not really. Taco Bell deferred royalties for 60 days. This is nothing but changing the terms. Blaze didn’t offer anything.
How are you working with your suppliers?
So far, we’re continuing to cash flow but are monitoring the cash flow in real time.
What are you doing to help your employees through this?
We’ve been transparent and open with the employees. We haven’t formally laid off anyone yet. Hours have been cut.
What are you doing for your customers?
All drive-thru and take-out service. No discounts.
How are you planning to reopen and rebuild your business post–Covid-19?
I’m highly concerned with getting employees back to work. Unemployment is now $20/hour.
What are you doing about cash flow, PPP, etc. (govt programs, banks, lenders, rent, insurance)?
I applied 10 days ago and haven’t received anything yet. Hopefully soon.
What else would you like to see from your franchisor or the government?
We need to get on the other side of this quickly. Franchisors need to provide direct relief.
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