Buzzwords aside, brands adjust & bring inspiration
A colleague once told me she disliked the phrase “I’m reaching out today” in an email. I’ve used that phrase, what, maybe hundreds of times? But now that I know it makes her wince, I am sure not to use it when I write to her. When you start to notice a certain turn of phrase or new jargon, soon, every time someone writes it, it jumps off the screen in blazing neon lights.
My word of the month is “pivot.” I’ve become tired of the word because it has become ubiquitous for what all businesses must do today: Change the way they operate when an unexpected virus causes chaos worldwide. (I prefer the phrase “change course.” But yeah, I guess it isn’t as catchy as “pivot.”)
That’s what you’re going to read in this month’s Franchise Times: A series of articles on franchise businesses that have had to adjust, or, ahem, pivot, and with supersonic speed.
There’s the Pet Supplies Plus CEO, Chris Rowland, who in January after watching what was happening in China started to order more inventory in the event consumers started to stock up once the virus hit here. (Remember toilet paper?) It paid off, as both corporate stores and franchisees rarely disappointed customers with an empty shelf the first couple of months of the pandemic.
Great Harvest Bread franchisee Pablo Teodoro thought he might be close to shutting his doors for good. But, he used social media to get the word out about his made-to-order loaves, and something wonderful happened. I won’t spoil it for you: Read on and find out why business is up and he may have to hire more workers.
Then there’s the Mountain Mike’s Pizza franchisee who just can’t be kept down. After rebuilding restaurants damaged in the Northern California fires, and closing stores temporarily during the PG&E power outages the last couple of years, Sonu Chandi understands business adversity. Because of that, he went against the tide and opened a new location April 15. Read the story to find out why, and how his community reacted.
Our cover story fits nicely into this vein, as well. Even prior to the pandemic, barbecue chain Famous Dave’s was changing course. CEO Jeff Crivello’s quiet and steady hand at the tiller has franchisees optimistic that parent company BBQ Holdings will be able to launch a new format focused on catering, delivery and less labor, among other things. The management team has other concepts in the works, making it a company to watch.
Reach Mary Jo at 612-767-3208
Editor Laura Michaels even talked to a Dale Carnegie Training franchisee, David Shen, based in Shanghai, China. Every issue, Laura interviews franchisees around the world for our international section, and an 8 p.m. phone call (our time) with him (9 a.m. his time) revealed how he kept business going when the virus closed down his country.
This is a time when franchisors have to make changes to help franchisees survive, and the repercussions of those decisions will last for years. As our columnist Alicia Miller from the Franchise Performance Group writes, franchise “buyers will gravitate to proven, long-term successful brands. This crisis will reveal new winners and some glaring weaknesses, impacting buyer perceptions from now on.”
In this issue, we’ve aimed to give you some inspiration and direction as you weave your way through a hopefully once-in-a-lifetime event. We’ll continue to bring you information and ideas with our magazine, webinars and blogs at FranchiseTimes.com. So go out there and pivot. We’re rooting for you.