Lessons Learned: How the COVID-19 Crisis Proved the Resilience of Franchising Yet Again

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resilience franchising

It’s safe to say that the large majority of businesses have struggled due to the COVID-19 crisis. However, we do believe that the resilience of franchising has helped make sure that lots of franchise brands have still come out on top. Let’s break this down some more…

The COVID-19 crisis has presented unimaginable difficulties for business owners in the UK. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and day-to-day life is gradually starting to return to ‘normal’. Many franchisors have stepped in to help their franchisees survive during this difficult time; by reducing and eliminating royalties, fees and any other expenses. They have also worked tirelessly to make sure that they are communicating with franchisees effectively, have adapted to the new virtual way of doing things and are keeping everyone up to date with the latest news and how it affects their business’s operation.

In this article, we break down why franchises have an edge over independent start-ups when it comes to surviving this global pandemic; in other words, how the COVID-19 crisis has proved the resilience of franchising.

Why is franchising considered resilient?

Franchises are considered to be more resilient business models that are more able to weather the storm of an economic crisis than independent ones. But why?

You are buying into an established brand with a good reputation and ready-made target market, so much of the risk and uncertainty involved with setting up a business is eliminated.

As a franchisee, you also have access to a wealth of resources and expertise from other franchise unit owners and the franchisor. You don’t need to worry about setting up your business on your own, instead you receive guidance from people who have already achieved great things in the franchising world.

Sally Wilse, the co-owner of Seniors Helping Seniors UK suggests that a franchise is more likely to stay strong and thrive during tough economic conditions:

Customers want to buy local and with a franchise they understand they get the best of both worlds. A national or international brand’s experience and stability, run and owned by local people with local expertise.

How has franchising proved to be resilient during the COVID-19 crisis?

1. Official franchising organisations are on hand to help

The British Franchise Association (BFA) and The International Franchise Association (IFA) have provided a wealth of resources to help its members during this period. On the ‘Business Matters’ section of the BFA’s website, you can learn everything from the ultimate furlough FAQs to mitigating the effects of the coronavirus.

2. Franchises provide a support network

In return for your investment, you’ll receive ongoing support and be able to call up the franchise team whenever you need help. In times like these, getting a high level of support can make it or break it for a struggling business owner. Instead of support simply helping make sure that a franchise can survive, executed the right way the franchisor can actually help its franchise network to thrive and come out on top.

3. Benefit from nationwide marketing

Having brand recognition already gives you a competitive advantage and a better chance of surviving, but you will also benefit from nationwide marketing from the franchisor. You just need to concentrate on your local marketing and any news that is specific to the residents in your area.

4. Can get a reduction or break in fees

To help give you a fighting chance, the franchisor could decide to provide financial relief by suspending or reducing your royalties or other continuing fees.

Franchisors can also make the most of their relationships with suppliers and buying power to negotiate lower costs for franchisees. While this will only be temporary, it can make a big difference when it’s in the ‘make it or break it’ stage. This is a luxury that most other businesses don’t possess.

5. Franchising embraces innovation

Franchisees are doing all they can to keep their employees on the payroll, provide the same high quality of products and services to customers, and at the very least keep their doors open in some shape or form. One way that the restaurant industry achieved this was by offering new take-out services or drive-thru options.

Many franchises adapted to the industry-wide innovation and rapidly changed their processes across the entire franchise network. In fact, franchises did exceptionally well. Like all businesses in the UK, they had to adhere to the government guidelines to operate safely, but they also had to successfully implement them across a number of locations and provide the exact same service that customers expect from a franchise.

The Managing Director of chicken franchise Miss Millie’s, Carl Traill said:

“Our first priority is supporting our franchisees to navigate the changes that affect their businesses, so when it became clear that the UK was set for a nationwide lockdown, we put the necessary actions in place.

“Our restaurants are all pick-up and delivery only, we immediately enforced two-metre distances and only accepted card payments. We also created a whole host of marketing collateral, instructing our customers how to move safely through our restaurants, and reminding staff of our additional safety precautions. By opening time on 24th March, we were ready to serve our loyal customers safely and efficiently – a commitment we’ve upheld throughout this incredibly busy time. Our footfall has doubled across all five of our locations, meaning we’ve had to recruit additional staff to meet the demand.”

Case study


You’d be mistaken in thinking that it’s just the foodservice industry that hasn’t suffered as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Business coaching franchise ActionCOACH has also seen some positives in such a challenging situation.

ActionCOACH has been able to continue offering its new and existing clients coaching sessions due to innovative virtual communication methods. It has introduced modern strategies to protect its market presence and provided some much-needed reassurance for its franchisees.

“As well as maintaining the high quality of business coaching synonymous with our brand, they’ve supported business owners to navigate a new business landscape and, in many cases, increase profitability.” – Co-founder of ActionCOACH UK, Ian Christelow

“We’ve seen a significant upturn in enquiries from business owners looking for solutions to survive this business-critical time and best prepare for the new normal. And in the true abundant nature of our franchise partners, every one of them has gifted a minimum of five pro bono coaching sessions to their community every week since lockdown started.”

ActionCOACH is looking to expand its network with Point Franchise, head to its client page for more details.

The resilience of franchising

Hopefully, we have now demonstrated how franchising is a viable option for anyone struggling through the COVID-19 crisis or actively looking for a career change. We have a large bank of articles that you can use to guide you through this time and you can also check out our UK franchise directory to see a full list of opportunities in your area.

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