Lessons Learned From the Pandemic: A Conversation With Franchisees
If there are any lessons learned from the pandemic, some of them certainly come from business owners, who are navigating the current challenges day in and day out. Here at Rallio, we work with hundreds of different franchisees and small-business owners. And we’ve seen firsthand how these owners have dug down deep and pivoted in the face of a global health crisis.
They’re incredible humans. They’re everything you think of when you think of an entrepreneur: resilient, innovative, perseverant, courageous and strong. Our hats go off to them and to all our healthcare workers and others who are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis every single day.
Today on the blog, we wanted to give you a chance to hear from a few of these owners. We spoke with owners from Tutor Doctor, Pet Supplies Plus and Merry Maids — just a few of the brands we work with. Here, in their own words, are some of the lessons learned from the pandemic.
Lessons Learned on Weathering the Storm
Tutor Doctor of Courtice, ON, Canada
This is a great topic that you are writing on. The pandemic has been tough on many businesses. We are one of the fortunate ones who seem to have weathered the storm. We are looking forward to emerging stronger on the other side. Below, I am mentioning some of the lessons learned from the pandemic.
Cash Is King
I know, I know, this phrase has been bandied around a lot in the last few months. But we really saw this play out in our business over the quarter gone by. We are lucky to have a strong positive cash flow business. Operating from conservative business principles, we used this strong cash flow to build a bit of reserve over 2019, the first year of our business.
At the same time, we opened a savings account along with our company’s checking account. I made sure that all the cash that we did not need even for a few days went into the savings account. What this meant is that with our “float,” we were able to earn a healthy interest over last year that went straight to our bottom line (after, of course, paying the taxes).
We also managed to build up a small buffer when the pandemic hit us. And the pandemic hit us hard. Our business was down over 90% for the Q2 of 2020, over Q1 of 2020. But we know we will live. It was our buffer that helped us. We have just started seeing some green shoots and things have started turning around.
Ask For Help
If you need help, please ask for it. In Canada (and I believe the same is true, south of the 49th parallel), we are lucky to be in a society that tries to take care of everyone. If you need help, just ask. Be it emotional, mental or even financial.
Some of the things we did for our financial well-being were, we reached out to everyone who was our vendor in the business. We requested all our suppliers to defer and delay payments.
Now, I am not talking about the small-business owners like my printer. I know that they, too, are in the same boat as us. But I did call my insurance company, phone company and even the bank and got payments in terms of fees, interest and charges waived or delayed. That really helped our cash flow.
Also, I was very aware and updated about all the government support programs. All this while, I kept in close contact with my CPA, who guided me through the labyrinth of the various grants and loans available.
Use Your Time
It is very easy to feel self-pity or suffer from bouts of demotivation in a time as tough as we have seen during the COVID pandemic. But my wife and I decided that we will use this time to hustle and build something. We are new immigrants to the country, and failure for us is not an option. So while our main business was down, I used this time to start a blog. I was always passionate in the health and wellness space, and in April 2020, I took over https://www.helpandwellness.com/ and started building it.
The blog started gaining traction, and we managed to monetize it to provide us with a small cash flow. We believe, you can either have internal locus of control and take charge, or have external locus of control and let the situation take charge. We preferred the former over the latter.
So, if you are struggling right now, do not despair. Look out there, to see what can you do to weather the storm? What costs can you cut? What expenses can you shave off? Is there a new line of business that you can start? Can you start a new side hustle that has the potential to scale? If you have worked hard to get your business to where it is, know that you have it in you to come out the other side of this crisis and flourish. Good luck!
Learn more: Cash Flow – How It Works to Keep Your Business Afloat
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Lessons Learned on Pivoting
Pet Supplies Plus of Sarasota East, Florida
Obviously, curbside pickup and delivery have been huge benefits to our neighbors during this crazy time, and the value per ticket of those purchases is higher than an average in-store purchase. Grooming has been solid since other grooming shops were closed during the beginning of the pandemic and our grooming was open throughout.
I did close early for a few weeks, and I found that to be a mistake. I learned from other franchisees that staying open regular hours throughout the pandemic provides neighbors confidence that we are there when they need us. Wearing masks and maintaining the cleaning procedures outlined by Pet Central provides neighbors with the reassurance that Pet Supplies Plus is a safe place for them to shop.
Read more: The Pandemic and Pet Businesses: How Social Media Can Help
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Lessons Learned on Communication
Merry Maids of Albuquerque, NM
The biggest lesson for me was to increase communication. That includes clients and staff. Use all platforms. Facebook, Instagram, Constant Contact, text and phone. The best way to ease people’s anxiety is to talk about it.
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What are some of the other lessons learned from the pandemic? We’d like to hear from you. Email your story to email@example.com with the subject line “Lessons learned from the pandemic, attn: Karen” for consideration in a future article.