New perspectives in unprecedented times
Everyone has a different pain threshold in the midst of a pandemic when it comes to rolling that boulder up a steep mountain day after day, thanks to what some are calling our new normal. (Last month I complained that I was tired of the overused word, “pivot,” so I hate to repeat myself so soon, but enough with the “new normal” talk,” OK?)
There has been so much written, talked about and reported on with coverage of how business owners are coping with the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 that I was impressed when I sat down in my home office and read the fresh approach taken by Senior Editor Beth Ewen in her cover story. Not that I was expecting anything less, mind you.
The individual stories are told from the perspectives of five Texas businessmen—plus one spirited and extremely quotable ex-wife—all with very different points of view as they go about reopening their franchised businesses. I was enthralled when I read about Anthony Milton, CEO of Tune Up—The Manly Salon (full disclosure, Beth, you had me at “manly salon”), who is described as “by far the most publicly defiant franchisor.” Come on, you know you’re going to immediately turn to the cover story to check that out.
Milton employed some gutsy maneuvers to defy the Texas governor’s orders to shut down his hair-cutting business, involving cops and civil servants, a constitutional lawyer and the media. There are equally entertaining tales from a cautionary, an optimist, an opportunist and a restructurer. What makes these stories so much fun to read is not only the franchisors’ personalities, but that their experiences aren’t all in the same industry. Readers can take ideas from the owner of, say, a gym or smoothie concept, and apply the lessons learned to their own business. It’s business edu-tainment at its finest.
Our in-depth COVID-19 coverage doesn’t end with the cover story. Be sure to keep turning the pages for a look at how the closures and stay-at-home orders have affected real estate prices and rents, along with myriad other business issues.
In addition, this month’s issue also includes the Franchise Times Restaurant 200 coverage of the largest restaurant franchisees in the country, an annual research project we do in conjunction with our sister publication, the Restaurant Finance Monitor. Some of the 2019 sales and unit figures were the result of an abundance of merger and acquisition action, and, as always, the listing is a testament that the big keep getting bigger. As Restaurant Editor Nicholas Upton states in his overview: “These year-end 2019 numbers serve as one final benchmark for the industry before the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.” The QSR concepts and their drive-thrus that are continuing to ring up sales while dining rooms are shuttered or at half capacity, are coming off a good year in 2019 as well.
Staying on course in this unpredictable environment isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s the little things that keep us centered. I had just remodeled my older son, Ben’s “guest bedroom” into a home office when the shelter-in-place orders were issued by my state’s governor. Having raspberry-colored walls and a well-organized space filled with things I love made me almost forget why I was there and not at Franchise Times World Headquarters.
As we start returning to offices and dining rooms and shopping off-line, we will have one foot in the “old normal” and one in the (sigh) new normal.
The economy will recover, and we’ll continue in print and online to bring you the innovation and info you need to keep your business from rolling back down the mountain. I won’t miss socially distancing, but I will miss those raspberry walls.