Leaning on Recession Roots, The Spice & Tea Exchange Responds to Pandemic with Franchisee Support & Guidance
Nationwide Boutique Retailer Shifts Focus to Online, Delivery Support of Local Owners
May 19, 2020 // Franchising.com // St. Augustine, Fla. - While this specific pandemic is new to every business owner, leading and finding success during a hard time is familiar ground for Amy Freeman and Penny Rehling, the CEO and COO of The Spice & Tea Exchange, respectively.
The franchise was founded in 2008, the middle of the Great Recession, with a vision to offer guests a more flavorful life with hand-mixed spice blends, exotic teas, sugars, salts and gourmet gifts. The two women grew as leaders and businesswomen while founding the retail franchise during a turbulent time, and that has led them to guide and inspire their 70+ franchise system during the coronavirus pandemic.
Today, the business partners are instilling in their franchisees a message that they weren’t scared in 2008, and they aren’t scared now. The Spice & Tea Exchange is doing everything in its power to keep money coming in for the franchisees, help franchisees with local government ordinances, and provide support at every step of this pandemic.
“Ninety seven percent of our stores have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, whether that’s having to close doors completely, or reduce hours,” said Freeman. “One of the first steps we took was having the executive team call every franchise operator in our system. We wanted them to hear straight from our leadership that The Spice & Tea Exchange is a nimble company, working tirelessly to pivot so they profit.”
Here are just a few of the steps The Spice & Tea Exchange has taken to best support the franchise system:
- While the company has always given 20 percent of its online sales back to franchisees, it has increased that to 30 percent. On top of the higher percentage going back in the pockets of franchisees, The Spice & Tea Exchange has been working around the clock to get customers to the website to drive online orders. The franchise is offering free shipping and specials through e-newsletters and Instagram/Facebook posts.
- Leaders at the company immediately launched a COVID-19 team to provide guidance on the pandemic as well as new revenue channels including curbside pickup and local delivery to better serve their guests
- The Executive Vice President of Franchise Development and the Central Operations Manager host frequent webinars to ensure all franchisees are aware of all current legislation and guidelines (including healthy and safety, the CARES Act, loans and grants, FMLA and more), and tips for running their business within these parameters.
- The marketing and operations team have been consistently creating content for franchisees to use locally. This includes social media pieces, photos, and even short commercial video messages.
- Both corporate and franchise owners are working to put together new product offerings that fit a customer who is primarily at home. Franchisees are working on bundling spice products for specific meals, and the corporate office introduced its Send a Little Sunshine gift box for customers looking to send some sunshine to family and loved ones.
“The past two months have been a roller coaster, but it’s been immeasurably comforting to know all of the things that Amy, Penny and the corporate office have done behind the scenes,” said Tami Brown, franchise owner of the Sioux Falls, SD location. “From the start, they had plans for events and conditions that no one else was thinking about yet. The way they’ve been calm, methodic, and planned everything has helped take stress and panic away from me and other franchisees.”
As franchisees prepare to open their doors in select areas across the country, The Spice & Tea Exchange continues to provide guidance on safety measures and the “new normal” in the industry. “Retail is going to continue to look different for a while, but we look forward to planning a system-wide event in the future when we can all come together and celebrate our strength through this crisis,” said Freeman.
About The Spice & Tea Exchange
The Spice & Tea Exchange® was founded in 2008 with a vision to create a one-of-a-kind retail shopping experience. The company has 70+ franchise stores across the United States, providing guests with more than 140 spices, 85 exclusive hand-mixed blends, over 40 exotic teas, naturally-flavored sugars, salts from around the world, gourmet gifts and accessories.
SOURCE The Spice & Tea Exchange
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