Everyone who has ever flown has heard this in every pre-flight announcement, “If you are traveling with someone who needs help with their mask, put yours on first.” If you don’t have the strength to go on, you can’t help others. That was never more applicable than in today’s situation.
For many of you, this is the first true crisis your system and your staff has had to face. In crisis, most of us want to rush in and help, but is that wise? Is your mask on?
As a franchisor, your job is to protect the brand. That can mean offering your franchisees financial assistance – if you can afford it and still be there when this is over – or not.
Here are a few options for you:
- Start with a cash-flow analysis to determine what you can afford to do. If you want to offer financial relief, but can’t afford to delay royalties, then look at your tech fund or brand fund. Younger brands probably don’t have a lot in the brand fund to prop up a major campaign, so use it other ways. (Consult with legal counsel on how to structure this).
- If you have a healthy brand fund, be strategic and determine the best way to either stay in front of the client now or be ready when this turns the corner.
- If you really can’t make it through, then be honest with your franchisees and do everything you can to leave them with as many tools as possible. You must talk to legal counsel if that is even remotely the case. You have contracts, so simply disappearing isn’t an option.
- If you can give royalty relief, don’t automatically offer it across the board. Do a needs analysis and determine where the relief will do the most good. Then calculate how long you can delay royalties and at what interest rate they can pay you back.
- Read. Understand the restrictions and abide by them. Your franchise agreement binds you all to knowing and following all the laws and rules – even the ones that are hurting you right now. Don’t advise franchisee to break them.
- Read more. Read all the relief acts and know how they can help you and your franchisees. Get your accountants and lenders involved and let them be the pros who can lead the conversations. Sometimes the best value you can offer are third-[arty resources.
- To that end, talk to the landlords and vendors. What can you negotiate? What state regulations can protect them now? Remember, their world is upside down, too. You are interconnected so look for a solution that works for everyone.
- Take advantage of all the relief programs you can so you can be there for the franchisees when it turns around. They are there for you and your franchisees.
- Show up. By that I mean be present for your franchisees. They are as scared as you are and want you to have the answers. That doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers – but you do have to listen.
- Do chats, Slack, video calls, phone calls. Reach out and be personal now and until this turns around.
- Share ideas. An active listener is hearing ideas the franchisee already considered and wants validated. There might be some gems there: Share them in the system and often the best ideas come from your franchisees. Reach out to your network of peers and suppliers. It might sound trite, but we really are all in this together and we can help each other.
- Use your intranet to effectively share information.
- Remember, this will end. What comes after will be different, but there is “after.”
- Take care of yourself. This is emotionally draining as you manage your own concerns, your family’s health, the franchisees’ angst, working remotely, the stress of being cooped up … Take the stress seriously.
- Turn off the phone and computer a few hours before bed and turn your attention to you and your family.
- Delegate the work.
- Get a little sun on your face at least once a day. It makes a difference.
- When the major planning is done, take the weekend away from calls, too. You have to be strong and healthy to deal with all this.
Someone said this to me ages ago and it keeps things in perspective.
“All you can do is all you can do and all you can do is enough.” Do enough.
So, pull the straps tight and though the bag might not inflate, oxygen is flowing. Relax and breathe normally.