Auntie Anne’s franchisee gives his take on the pandemic

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Auntie Anne’s is the largest global soft pretzel chain – but we are so much more than just pretzels! The formula for Auntie Anne’s success is simple: product, people and purpose. Our brand purpose is to do good. We deliver smiles. We offer a moment of joy in an otherwise hectic day.

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Auntie Anne’s has revealed how it has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Luis San Miguel is the President and CEO of Fresh Dining Concepts, the third-biggest Auntie Anne’s franchisee. He runs 40 locations of the takeaway franchise, as well as two Cinnabon branches, six co-branded Auntie Anne’s/Cinnabon sites and two co-branded Auntie Anne’s/Carvel stores. 

With more than a decade of experience in franchising and over five years in his current role, Luis has developed an impressive level of industry expertise. But the pandemic has still had a significant impact on his business portfolio. 

Luis explained the biggest effects of the Covid-19 outbreak for his network:

“All mall-based businesses are obviously struggling with decreased foot traffic, but I see this issue as one that will be overcome with the development of new drugs and treatments in the near future.”

According to the multi-unit franchisee, the most pressing issue is labour; his US-based network has found it difficult to attract and retain crew members. Luis put this problem down to “the virus and the negative impact that the government’s stimulus and unemployment subsidies have had on our ability to compete for people”.

In the face of the obstacles brought by the pandemic, Luis revised his strategies to reduce employee working hours with the help of technology: 

“It is very difficult to achieve greater labor efficiency, especially with all the new health requirements, so we are also testing self-order kiosks and promoting ordering through our mobile platforms to increase efficiency on the order side.”

So, what does the future hold for the franchises? Luis believes his units are in a good position to tackle future challenges: 

“Regardless of government mandates, attention to healthy practices and cleanliness is here to stay and rightfully so. This is an area where I think Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon and Carvel have always been leaders; cleanliness has always been a top priority for these brands.”

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