Today is Britain’s first online International Franchise show. June 5 and 6, 200 brands, and 2 days’ worth of free webinars on all kinds of topics. I will join the Biggest mistakes new franchisors make, the challenges and benefits of international franchise development in these uncertain times, franchising your business, and how to survive and thrive during this pandemic. Tomorrow’s topics of Franchise growth and success and what to consider when investing in a franchise look particularly interesting.
But I’m actually not writing about the expo show. What is amazing to me is that we have lived in a world where we can bring tens of thousands of people together to share such information and expose hundreds of business ideas to the mass public and that it took the outbreak of CoV-19 for us to really use it. I don’t know about you, but I had never heard of Zoom, RingCentral, or Google Meets until this year. Nor did I know how to share my computer screen on a conference call or hold a webinar. Now these are things I do daily and just part of my normal work routine.
Our company, VF Franchise Consulting, has been successfully holding webinars about general topics like franchising in Asia, how to franchise your business, as well as business development ones to introduce our clients to potential franchisees for several months now. There is no doubt in my mind that even after international travel, franchise expos, and life in general starts again, we will continue to do so. The way the world does business has forever changed.
This will affect many industries worldwide, including franchising. There will be a larger digital component to everything from business development, sales, marketing, and even training. How franchisors, brokers, and consultants adapt will have a big impact on their future success. Consumers have gotten used to doing things remotely. They order food delivery instead of going out. Netflix sometimes instead of the cinema. Their first reaction maybe to make a conference call instead of a meeting, attend a webinar instead of an expo event. There will be companies through this year and next that will keep trying to do things the same as 2019. I question the survival of such.
There are and will be great opportunities though for franchisors who are quick to adapt to these changes in consumer behavior. Many have already done so, or are in this process. Let’s consider restaurants, a popular category for franchising, as an example. The obvious change is a higher percentage of sales in delivery and take-away. New menu items that travel well and still look and taste good after 30 minutes, packaging that helps make that happen and looks attractive are only going to increase in importance. There are other aspects as well, less dense seating, plexi-glass barriers between cashiers and customers, lots of hand sanitizer bottles, and of course new hygiene and sanitization procedures. The brands who get these in place, and just as importantly let people know they have them can get jump started faster than their competition.
Still looking at franchisors, let’s also consider education franchising. Hygiene and safety has joined the top 5 reasons to choose a particular center for students, but also how franchisees will choose a particular brand to invest in. Making sure that hygiene and sanitation is part of your sales presentations to attract potential franchisees, and part of the ops manuals so it keeps your customers safe will be key. Concepts that allow study at home, distant learning, blended programs, or focus on smaller group classes will be seen as more attractive moving forward.
As a franchise consultant our responsibility is to keep abreast of these changes and communicate them to our clients; whether they are business owners we are helping implement a franchise system, franchisors or potential franchisees. Communication will continue to be key, franchisor to franchise, franchise to consumer.
I won’t say it is good news, but the fact remains that the failure of many businesses in 2020 leaves room open for new companies to develop new brands in their markets and we are already seeing a demand for that. So, even as your office rearranges seating, buys no touch trash bins, touchless photocopiers and lights, and staggers lunch breaks to allow more social distancing, take the time to examine your business and focus on what changes you need to make to successfully franchise in 2021.