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Amid a crisis, look ahead, and to learn from others


At the beginning of the stay-at-home order in my home state of Minnesota, I called some of my professional network of friends, colleagues and customers just to see how they were doing.

 I heard stories, opinions and accounts of lives changed.

Some were more cautious about the outlook. Some had personal stories of how the crisis was affecting their family, but were still soldiering through. Some were optimistic. One told me, “We’ve been in tough times before, where businesses were shaken to their core, and worried that they wouldn’t survive. There will be consequences of what happened…but this isn’t going to be a three-year downward trend. We’ll work through them; this will pass and we’ll get through it together.”

I want to hang out with her, even if we have to stay 6 feet apart. Her reassurance is catching. No, we can’t be Pollyanna, but we should look to see how we can get through this.

What can we learn from others?

At Franchise Times, we started our COVID-19 coverage online right away, and our editorial staff is quickly producing stories for both the web and our monthly issue, as our readers are hungry for information. In this month’s publication, we talk to franchise leaders about what they are doing to help their franchisees, and their own business during this time.

Some are offering royalty relief; others are ramping up their communication on changing regulations and government assistance. And it takes flexibility, many say.

“We keep saying this is for a moment of time, not to the end of time,” Brandon Landry, CEO of restaurant chain Walk-On’s told Franchise Times. “We have had to basically change our concept overnight and just become full takeout, delivery, curbside— whatever we had to do—but we’re making the best of it.”

Another franchise executive said, “Don’t be afraid to contradict yourself. Make decisions based on the information you have at the time, and if you wake up the next day and say things have changed, that’s OK.”

There’s more to be had in that lineup. I hope when you read it, you’ll feel as encouraged as I did.

Mary Jo Larson

Mary Jo Larson

Reach Mary Jo at 612-767-3208

Our cover story this month is a showstopper: the growing cannabis industry and how franchising is taking part. Enter Christian Hageseth, co-founder of Unity Rd., formerly known as One Cannabis. Unity Rd. is intent on becoming the first to successfully franchise weed dispensaries. Hageseth regales FT Senior Editor Beth Ewen with business start-up tales, but not of the usual kind. His include drug-sniffing police dogs.

Other cannabis providers are interviewed, too, and Beth adds her account of her visit to the big cannabis expo, MJBizCon. Featuring companies with names like the stately sounding Emerald Harvest to the, how do you say, more psychedelic LuvBuds, the event gave her fodder for interesting coverage. Sounds like they were all living the high life.

Don’t miss our coverage of the Franchise Investment Conference, held in early March, where C-suite executives told an audience of investors, franchisees and lenders about their concepts and growth plans. It was an interesting lineup, keynoted by Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison. And don’t miss our special FIC digital edition, out this month.

In closing, here’s a favorite quote from this issue: “I truly believe, the way we treat people now, whether it’s the franchisees, our guests, our staff members, is going to be remembered long after the coronavirus goes away,” said Mark Setterington, CEO of Island Fin PokeĢ. “We cannot panic and start treating people poorly at the cost of saving ourselves.”

Hear, hear.

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