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Covid-19's impact on Canadian franchises has been significant. While there are some rather obvious downsides, there have also been positives for franchises as they emerge from this crisis. Many have found better, more innovative ways to do things. New ideas and concepts have emerged. More positive changes stemming from this pandemic will likely become clear in the upcoming months, but here are five that have already become evident.
A new appreciation for franchises
One of the biggest reasons people invest in a franchise is the support they receive from the franchisor. During the pandemic, franchisors went above and beyond to help keep franchisees positive and afloat. Some adapted their business models and created new marketing initiatives that were specific to Covid-19. Many issued daily videos or memos to update and encourage franchises. Instead of having to get through this crisis alone, franchisees were able to receive leadership and guidance when they needed it the most.
A strengthened sense of community
A franchise brand can make a real difference for a cause by engaging its franchises. Since the pandemic, we've seen service and aid come pouring in for local businesses and front-line workers. At the center was food franchisees, who donated meals to hospital staff. Other non-food franchises supported and contributed to these initiatives by making donations, offering free services and contributing gift cards.
Corporate franchise teams, franchisees and industry leaders have all turned to tools such as Zoom to support each other during this pandemic. While video conferencing isn't new, some companies had never used it before now. Seeing everyone together on the screen creates a sense of intimacy, especially with many people working at home. Far more casual than company conference rooms, people are chatting with their backyards, living rooms or kitchens as the backdrop.
Improved business models
Many franchises altered their models to stay afloat during this crisis, creating new long-term revenue streams. Food franchises, for example, offered curbside pickups. Education brands created online learning sessions. Many fitness brands provided workouts via live stream.
Boosted sales processes
Although face-to-face meetings can't be completely replaced, rules for social distancing have prompted franchisors to find new ways to work with candidates. Trade shows have gone virtual, for example. Instead of presenting from an expo booth, exhibitors are sharing franchise opportunities using text-based chats and live video.
Traditionally, an interested entrepreneur will attend a franchisor's "discovery day" to learn more about the business. These are one- or two-day information sessions that include in-depth overviews, tours and Q&A sessions. Since travel was restricted, many brands have made their discovery days virtual. To make it more fun, some brands have sent food to attending prospective franchisee's homes, replacing the traditional discovery day lunch session.