Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Q&A with Multi-Brand Franchisee Mitch Cohen
Mitch Cohen, who has been in franchising for more than 30 years, operates 3 Jersey Mike’s Sub shops in Long Island, New York. Those shops have seen a 25% drop in sales since mid-March. He recently signed a 6-unit agreement with Sola Salon Studios. He also is a founding partner of Performax Franchisee Advisors, a team of experienced multi-unit franchisees who provide operator-focused strategies to improve franchisee performance, engagement, and trust.
How has Covid-19 affected your business?
Our three shops are down about 25% in sales since March 13. We’ve had a few employees go out on unemployment, but for the most part everyone is still working.
What are you doing right now to get through this?
We are working in the communities more now than ever before, using social media to let our guests know that we are following the CDC recommendations. We have calls with our staff on a regular basis to make sure they are doing alright at home, providing help there if we can, and making sure they feel safe working in our shops.
Is your franchisor helping keep you afloat?
Jersey Mike’s has been helping with ad fund deferments, $1,000 per location, to offset donations of food. They’ve altered TV advertising and are sharing in the discounting programs they have run nationally.
What are you doing to help your employees through this?
We have given our employees bonus pay during this time. We have sent them home with food and have made donations to family members outside their household.
What are you doing for your customers?
We have had 50% off Thursday to Sunday one weekend, a 25% off Thursday to Sunday for another, and made a 20% donation to Feeding America food banks this past Saturday and Sunday. We also offered free delivery for 3 weeks.
How are you working with your suppliers?
We only have one major supplier and they have not offered any relief.
What are you doing about cash flow, PPP?
We have applied for PPP and are still waiting. We have worked with our landlords for some relief.
What else would you like to see from your franchisor or government?
I would like the PPP program to be more clear so we can understand it. I would like to see funding happen more easily, and for states to reduce the extra unemployment money so people will want to come back to work.
How are you planning to reopen and rebuild your business post–Covid-19?
We are preparing our locations with the proper PPE and cleaning supplies, and training our staff once the dining rooms open back up. We have bounce-back coupons we add to every offer good for the month of May and will give out one for June.
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