Year in Review: How Franchising Stayed the Course in 2020

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Looking back at the year that was 2020, it would be easy to focus on the many negatives. But through global disasters, franchisees across the world have remained resilient beacons for their local communities. We’re going to look at how franchising has kept going through one of the toughest years on record.

New Year’s Eve is usually a time for happy reflection on the best bits of the year. But this year, there isn’t much to fondly reminisce about. After 12 months of relentless struggle, most of us will be glad to wave goodbye to 2020 without looking back. However, there have been many positives to come out of the awful situations we’ve found ourselves in. 

To round off another year of franchising content, we’re going to be looking back at the unexpected positives 2020’s challenges have shone a light on. After struggling through unprecedented shutdowns and a plethora of restrictions, many franchises have shown they’re more resilient than they ever believed. Here are five of the most significant factors that have helped franchising stay strong under immense, unexpected pressure.

1. Adaptability

Virtually every franchise has been asked to adapt its business due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Whether that means moving from signs and promotional products to producing PPE, as Fastsigns’ franchisees have, or introducing new virtual consultations like Shuttercraft has, these changes have allowed franchisees to continue generating an income.

Really Awesome Coffee franchisee Andy Baxter’s usual customer base of office workers disappeared when people were asked to work from home. However, the quick-thinking businessman came up with a solution that would also help some of his local area’s key workers. 

Andy chose to base his mobile coffee van by the East of England Ambulance Service’s depot in Norwich during the first lockdown. By popping in three times a day, the hard-working staff were able to grab a hot drink and tasty snack in between callouts, even while cafes and restaurants were shut. Andy also adapted by introducing a local delivery service, so residents of Norwich could get a barista-quality coffee fix from his van. 

2. Community Spirit

Without the cash backing of big businesses, many independent companies have struggled to cope with the challenges of 2020. But with the help of their local communities rallying round, plenty have managed to keep their doors open. 

Schemes introduced by sign franchise Minuteman Press, for example, have helped to bolster the entire local community. Its ‘Bounce Back’ scheme has been rolled out across its international network, which gives franchisees the resources to help local businesses promote themselves. Some have chosen to set up free advertising websites, while others have used social media and print advertising space to help companies get back on their feet. 

3. Innovation

Plenty of businesses across the world have stepped up and implemented innovative solutions to tackle the challenges of Covid-19. Some of these changes have been temporary, but others have discovered ways to improve their franchise model permanently. 

Sandstone Yoga’s temporary adaptations went down so well the franchise has introduced a permanent franchise package to cater to unprecedented demand. During the first lockdown, the yoga franchise moved its classes online so its clients could still enjoy a relaxing yoga session from home. It was a hit and Sandstone quickly introduced its Petra package - an online-only version of its full franchise model - to offer would-be franchisees a new business option. 

4. Caring

Mental health has come under the spotlight this year, as physical isolation and worries about our health have taken their toll on virtually everyone. Some franchises have stepped up to offer a solution that’s suitable for these very strange times. 

SportsCool recognised during the first lockdown that children were struggling with anxiety and other mental health issues, and it wanted to do something about it. So a number of members of the sports franchise obtained a qualification in Yoga and Mindfulness through MiniMeYoga. Now, Andy, Lee and Matt from SportsCool, who are the first male ambassadors for MiniMeYoga in the UK, are running courses to equip school staff with these vital skills.

Other franchises like Wok&Go have supported their local communities by helping to feed hungry mouths. The noodle bar franchise donated £2,000 in vouchers to a local food group in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, to make sure those in need could enjoy some hot, tasty food. It also created free lunch boxes for hungry children to enjoy during half-term and has pledged to continue donating vouchers to the food group every month. 

5. Teamwork

One of the most attractive aspects of franchising is the fact that you never have to be alone during your business journey. 30% of entrepreneurs report that loneliness is a problem, according to Forbes, and it’s likely to have been exacerbated for many by the Covid-19 restrictions. If you’re part of a franchise, you’ve got a team of like-minded support staff and fellow franchisees around you whenever you need them. 

This year has thrown up situations that have been stressful, confusing and downright upsetting. Businesses have been ordered to close their doors, not knowing when, or even if, they might open again. Under the guidance of franchisors across the country, franchisees have been able to access financial support quickly, helping their businesses stay alive. And from their peers and leaders, many have also received crucial emotional support - something many independent entrepreneurs could really do with right now.

A Year of Learning

Even though nobody would’ve wished for a year like this, it’s clear many franchises have risen to the challenges of 2020. By making savvy adaptations and ensuring their networks and local communities are properly supported, they have laid the foundations for a brighter future. Here’s to 2021, which we hope will be a better year for all our clients and readers. 

If you’re looking for more information about franchising, check out our articles. We upload content every day on everything from marketing to budgeting to self-improvement, so you might just learn something new to take you into 2021.

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