Franchising updates for Southeast Asia (ASEAN)

saigon morning with less traffic - resized

Photo: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

This is an update to an earlier post that I did concerning the coronavirus a few weeks past. And boy, have things changed. However, these changes are driving some key business and franchise innovations and will drive businesses to higher heights and when things start to normalize.

As you know, in China and where the coronavirus hit first and hardest, things appear to be getting better gradually, though still in full recovery mode and still painful for many businesses. Life appears to be sprouting again the country and its citizens regain more confidence in its ability to effectively manage the spread of the virus.

According to a recent Yum China report, roughly 95% of its restaurants in China are either partially or fully open as businesses slowly reopen and people go back to work. The report also noted that store closings peaked in February, when 35% of its restaurants in China had shut down due to the coronavirus.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said that 85% of its stores are now open across China. Starbucks has approximately 4,300 cafes in China – its second largest market and only after the US market.

Southeast Asia (ASEAN), which has been spared for the most part when compared to China and Korea, has been affected and some businesses have become weaker and some will unfortunately fail. Businesses and individual entrepreneurs are coping and adjusting and continue to manage their businesses in offices, and when that is not feasible, from home and online, as is the case throughout Asia and globally.

Many countries in Southeast Asia (if not all by now) have shut down all international flights for the next 30 – 45 days (in/out). The main concern in countries like Vietnam, China, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, etc. is about the virus making its way back into these countries. This phenomenon is already happening in all of these countries, and in general, these restrictions apply to those who are seeking to either re-enter or enter these countries, both local and foreigners.

Asians appear to take the coronavirus issue much more seriously than in the West, and this is a very, very, good thing and the region is expected to gradually recover in the next 3 – 6 months. Many businesses are adapting and focusing to a much higher extent their efforts online.

Even our company, VF Franchise Consulting, is focusing and adapting to more rigorous digital marketing programmes for our clients, which now includes numerous client specific franchise webinars and increased efforts in SEO, social media, and targeted email campaigns.

We continue to travel if and when we can for our business matching events throughout the region. As of now, our plans are to organize business matching events in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam in the May through June time frame, though things are changing week to week. We will reschedule them if and when necessary.

Earlier this year, we held business matching events in Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar (Burma), and the excitement for new franchise opportunities remain as many groups are focused on investments for the long-term, and that ultimately means that they have to consider these opportunities now rather than later.

Many industry experts believe pent up demand during these difficult times will result in a faster recovery rate than normal.

The early bird still gets the worm.

Author: Sean T. Ngo is the CEO and Co-Founder of one of Asia’s leading franchise consultancy, VF Franchise Consulting. He is Vietnamese American and has been living in Asia for over 15 years. VF Franchise Consulting currently has offices in Vietnam and Singapore.


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