What Have Been the Biggest Impacts of Covid-19 on Your Business?
Hiring and staffing has become perhaps the #1 concern among franchisees, especially for restaurant operators and brick-and-mortar retailers – and even for franchisors as they seek to staff up for growth post-Covid (if that ever happens). Here’s how four of our 2021 MVP (Most Valuable Performers) winners responded to the question, “What have been the biggest impacts of Covid-19 on your business?
(Franchise Update Media’s annual MVP Awards are given to multi-unit franchisees who have demonstrated outstanding performance in growing both their organization and their brands. These power operators, innovators, and creative thinkers keep raising the bar for all of franchising. To qualify, multi-unit franchisees must have at least 5 operating units and have been in a franchise system for a minimum of 2 years.)
Dawn Lafreeda is President and CEO of Den-Tex Central, which operates 81 Denny’s. She’s been in franchising for 37 years.
There are so many, but I think the biggest has been the uncertainty and inconsistency from city to city by our government officials. We were not able to make our own business decisions. We had very little notice when to shut down and were told it was for 14 days, which as we all know turned to months. We lost most of our inventory and we lost our trained employees. Once we finally got open, we were told when to open, when to close, how many people can come in, how close they can be, etc. If someone tested positive, we were shut down again. It is very difficult to run a business with the rules changing daily.
It has also been a very un-level playing field as to what was defined as essential vs. non-essential and who got to stay open and who had to close. Some got to thrive, like grocery stores, Walmart, Home Depot, and drive-thru restaurants, while sit-down restaurants had to close dining rooms. Some cities didn’t even allow outdoor dining. Small operators got more financial help from government, but it didn’t mean large operators didn’t have all the same problems – only multiplied. We had to make some hard decisions and closed several locations to protect the overall health of the others. When you have a lease that is up for renewal for another 10 years and you have no idea when you are reopening, you must make a difficult decision.
Shirin Kanji is president and CIO of Impact Properties, which operates 74 Rent a Centers, 5 Carstars, 3 BurgerFi, 2 Neighborly brands, 2 Marriotts, 1 Hilton, and 1 Hyatt. He’s been in franchising for more than 15 years.
As with all businesses, it has been a very challenging period for us adjusting to the operating impacts from Covid-19 across our portfolio of industries. Ultimately, we have arrived at a service model that takes care of our customers and team members to provide each the utmost safety, while also delivering the convenience and experience each expects. This of course is a fluid situation and will likely change in the months ahead. Our senior management team and field-level leaders have done a great job being adaptable and doing the best given the situation.
Roland Spongberg is the founder and CEO of the WKS Restaurant Group, which operates 126 Denny’s, 86 Wendy’s, 69 El Pollo Loco, 40 Krispy Kreme, and 10 Blaze Pizza restaurants. He’s been in franchising for 34 years.
The type or design of our restaurants proved to have the biggest impact on navigating successfully through the pandemic. Those restaurants without a drive-thru had crushing sales decreases, while those with a drive-thru drove significant sales increases.
Barrett McNabb is the CEO of Consolidated Wellness Management Group, which operates 4 The Joint Chiropractic clinics (with 3 more under construction), and 2 Modern Acupuncture clinics. He’s been in franchising for 5 years.
We had some membership cancellations and a dip in revenue, but The Joint Chiropractic did not have to close in Texas. The governor declared chiropractic care an essential medical service, which allowed us to maintain and even grow sales during the period.
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