The Covid-19 crisis was a relentless challenge for virtually every business, and franchising’s resilience in 2020 showed just how strong the business model can be.
2020 was a year full of with challenges across all industries. For many independent businesses, the onset of the pandemic meant having to downsize or make other painful concessions to stay afloat. But for many franchisors, that adjustment looked a little different. The Covid-19 crisis meant having to take a step back, reset and ask the right questions: how are we going to get through this? And more importantly, how do we help our franchisees get through this?
Unlike independent businesses, franchise brands have the corporate backing, strong operational models and a network of owners who share their brand’s values to help them function as a unit. It is these kinds of benefits that are key components in differentiating the success of the franchise industry.
In March, the industry had to turn on a dime. Retail franchises took the initiative to up their e-commerce game, restaurants shifted focus to curbside pickup and delivery, and service brands leapt into action to ensure their customers felt safe and comfortable interacting with them. The IFA was there for its partners and the National Restaurant Association was there for its restaurants fighting to stay open in certain geographical areas. Franchisors across the board had to amend their business models overnight, and in every sense of the word, the industry proved itself resilient.
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But resilience is not the industry’s only quality; it is reliable, too. Since the onset of the pandemic, the franchise industry has been hard at work providing its partners with new, more robust supports and resources — something independent business owners did not have the opportunity to lean on.
Franchisors stood up to the challenge, solving the problems brought on by the pandemic in real time, speaking volumes to the idea of working for a brand. On top of all that, they are answering the questions that are pertinent to any business’s survival: Do I continue to operate? What do I need? Where do I get this? Without a franchisor those questions become a lot tougher to answer.
Great franchisors are staying up to date on local and federal regulations and opportunities for financial relief. They are advocating for support for their franchisees and ensuring PPP loans to have all the tax benefits that were originally promised. And, through increased communication and information sharing, the industry has created a more connected network of franchisees.
Covid-19 is still creating challenges for everyone, but the franchise industry has shown in recessions and times of hardship, it is as scrappy as any industry out there. Franchise brands remain strong and are continuing to grow in spite of what 2020 has thrown their way.
2021 is projected to be a great year for franchising because there is a lot of pent-up demand. The industry has more than 3,000 franchisors already, and over 750,000 franchise businesses in operation — there is strength in numbers and the industry works hard to support its owners. We’re going to make it through and come out even stronger on the other side.