Leave Your Comment on Your 2020 in Retrospect
Reflecting on the past year, we now, in retrospect see things more clearly.
The term business un(usual) and the new normal were words we invented to comfort ourselves in challenging and uncertain times but in all honesty, 2020 was a disruptive year paving the way for the future and in the midst of it all we all had to adapt, reinvent, and gear ourselves to weather the storms and as a result be stronger, more resilient and pro-active by taking off our blinkers and facing reality.
The world did not end, yes it was a leap year and COVID-19 made it came to a bit of a stand-still for some time, but it gave us all the opportunity to reconnect with our families and support systems, re-energise, discover or create new business opportunities, find new passions, figure out the greatness of technology and have a burning desire to return with a bang.
1. Rethink Your Business Model
Various business owners, franchisor, franchisees, and entrepreneurs alike had to re-evaluate their business’ performance and the model. This year was a time to gather information, adapt, initiate, or implement strategies to survive and for some businesses to even thrive.
We saw various businesses come together to tackle challenges, find solutions, and forge a new path to survive in tough times, in some instances it was:
- changing the way they operate,
- how to offer current products and services
- relooking at new distribution channels
- being innovative and offering new product lines
- changing media and customer strategies or
- Simply going back to basics and paying attention to detail with regarding to service and engagement
A successful model pre or during COVID does not necessarily guarantee a successful model post-COVID and in future. We believe 2020 took off our blinkers and will make us pro-actively and continuously revise, improve, and innovate to ensure that the franchise and business is successful.
2. Overcome Challenges
Drive, determination, and perseverance has been experienced like never before to survive and overcome challenges.
The power of franchising mechanisms was reiterated during these uncertain times as franchising offered the following:
- A key support network, you are never alone
- Access to resources and systems
- In-depth experience and knowledge from the franchisor and other franchisees
- The ability to create awareness on a larger scale due to the brand and developed footprint
- Appealing and negotiating with government departments, landlords, suppliers, etc to offer relief for franchise operations
- Financial relief and assistance for franchisees in terms of franchise and marketing fees from franchisors to lessen the financial burden
The benefits of franchising a business became more evident during the COVID-19 shakeout , and various businesses and corporate companies are exploring franchising as a viable expansion and survival opportunity to reduce their risk whilst growing the brand and offering opportunities to individuals that will result in creating opportunities and wealth-creating. Franchising has time and time again proven itself as the best possible protection as a business format to many economic crises.
4. People Need to Buy Employment Now More Than Ever
The current economy has forced many individuals to seek alternative employment opportunities due to retrenchment and limited employment opportunities available in the market. Franchising has become an enticing option for so many individuals wanting to start and managing their own business without the risks of starting their own independent business.
The time for franchising is now and Franchisors have the opportunity to market their franchise opportunities and successfully recruit and select franchisees.
5. Remote Working and Freelancing Grew
Even though remote working was not perceived as a new concept, it may have been a disruption for some franchises and businesses that needed to adapt to the change. Businesses and Franchises who were able to work remotely had to rethink strategies to be more productive and effective in the “future-work environment”.
In many cases, remote working is a solution going forward and franchisors, franchisees and business owners in various industries are questioning their current office infrastructure and space, we are experiencing a changing nature of the traditional office and retail environment and the rise of co-working space
The growing freelance industry enabled flexibility in businesses by contracting experts when needed and not on a full-time basis.
We also saw entrepreneurs on a micro-level taking initiative and developing products and solutions aimed at keeping the community and all workers safe by producing and selling COVID-19 essentials and PPE – this created employment opportunities in the short-term.
6. The Rise and Fall of Social Media
Individuals had more time to peruse social media platforms and businesses had the opportunity to utilise these platforms to remain top of mind for when trading could commence. This was a great time to build online communities through live and personal interactions and engagement with customers.
A spike of people spending time online allowed businesses to engage with customers and staff. It was not only Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram – Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and Skype skyrocketed since the pandemic began. People are more likely to utilise these platforms going forward to interact and reduce the amount of travelling and face-to-face interaction.
This was the year to perfect order deliveries and adopt techniques and processes to increase process efficiency to shorten delivery time and reduce cost whilst ensuring ultimate customer satisfaction. Various businesses and franchises improved their logistics by partnering with businesses who specialise in the activity. Other brands created innovate solutions such as drive-thru, curbside delivery or creating their inhouse application for deliveries.
8. E-commerce and Digital Vouchers Built a Pipeline Income
Even though we were in lockdown, isolated from our communities we still had the world at our fingertips and whatever we wanted was just a click away (for some products we had to wait longer than others until the lockdown level permitted it). Customers were happy to pay for convenience, feeling safe and waiting for the offerings. Small businesses were supported by purchasing offerings in advance to be utilised as soon as trade commenced. Digital vouchers were launched to send to someone in need and to eliminate the access or handling of cash issues
9. Tell it Like it (Really) is, Let Go and Offer Support
Times were and are still tough and all franchisors, franchisees and business owners need to be transparent and realistic about the current situation.
- Acknowledge that you cannot do everything on your own, you need support and assistance. Not doing everything on your own will allow you to work on the business and not just in the business
- Face all challenges and address issues immediately to find workable solutions going forward
- Communicate with your franchisees and staff members, be upfront about uncertainty and offer as much support as you can. Franchises, business owners and managers to communicate as much as possible and empower their employees by giving them information and knowledge to ease the transition caused by disruption or change.
- Communicate with stakeholders like clients and service providers We were all going through tough times, maintaining good communication will assist in retaining customers and building trust and long-term relationships.
Various brands were supporting staff and the cause during the past year, more than ever by:
- encouraging franchisees and staff to make use of disaster relief resources
- allocating appreciation bonuses to front-line staff
- donating to those in need
- turning to crowdfunding solutions for aid and
- applying for government funding to assist staff members if full salaries could not be offered
10. Switched On For Online
This year taught us all that all business and franchises need to be open to approach work differently as we needed to limit our exposure to people whilst continuing with our daily work activities as best, we can. We are having to consider how to build good working relationships with remote stakeholders and how to collaborate effectively and this includes having online meetings.
We have all now adapted to a more professional online working environment for our Zoom, Teams, Skype or Hangout calls by:
- Being versatile and adapting to platforms based on stakeholder needs
- Preparing for online meetings
- Creating an agenda
- Preparing your virtual workspace e.g., green screen backgrounds and noise-cancelling headsets help hide kids chatter and dogs barking in the background, or a space that does not scream I am not at an office
- Be respectful and participate when required e.g., Mute your mic when you are not speaking
Franchises and businesses had to consider the challenges and risks associated with remote connectivity, prepare adequately, and adopt strategies that enable employees to perform business tasks and stay productive during the lockdown period whilst reducing cybersecurity risks and challenges associated with remote access and connectivity.
More professionals are working remotely and require social and training. Training content shifted online, and material had to be developed and delivered via webinars are online-training platforms.
The need for online, real-time information and business management tools is high. Franchises require franchise management and communication platform to deal with common franchise challenges. Hard copy printed material, policies and procedures are a thing on the past and online resources are more prevalent. An online operations and procedure manual allow easy access to obtain information and network.
11. POPI came into play
With POPI coming into effect this year, by setting conditions for businesses responsible to lawfully process personal information from people and companies. This is relevant to franchising due to franchisors building various databases of potential and existing franchisees, suppliers, service providers and customers.
12. Good partnerships
Having partners that are passionate about their area of expertise is a big contributing factor to the survival and success of the business. We at Franchising Plus live by this saying: “In franchising, you are in business for yourself, but not by yourself” and we believe by having a dedicated, passionate, and committed partners are what sets your business apart from the rest of the market. Collectively we are stronger, and we are all in this together!