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PrideStaff, Uptown Cheapskate ‘Zees Grateful for Franchise System


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Amy Linn, top right, during a video call with her team. Linn has owned her PrideStaff franchise in Dallas for more than 20 years.

As the unemployment rate jumped to 14.7 percent in April due to the pandemic, Amy Linn saw the impact first hand as a longtime franchisee of PrideStaff. The national staffing agency won the Franchise Times 2020 Zor Award in the employment/staffing category. This week, we checked in with past winning brands to learn how franchisees are navigating the pandemic and adapting to the new normal.

Down 50 percent in sales, Linn’s Dallas location “services mainly white-collar jobs in a variety of industries, so early on, we were able to work with several of our clients to get temporary employees to work from home,” Linn said. Meanwhile, PrideStaff franchisees in other locations have seen an increase in sales if they mainly service QSR restaurants, food industry and production.

Despite profits being down, Linn was able to retain her entire team. Realizing that a staffing service may not be able to provide the same value to clients it typically does, she quickly shifted to creating guides on navigating the pandemic, including laws that affect their businesses.

“Clients here and companies across the country are having to make difficult decisions on how they retain liquidity,” Linn said. “Did that look like furloughs, payroll and benefit reductions? We were able to provide resources for that.”

As states have been gradually opening back up, Linn and her team have also been providing information on how to implement COVID-19 requirements and get people back to work safely.

“The franchisor put time and resources into developing that type of rich consulting material we’re able to provide to our clients in a time they wouldn’t be able to utilize our services at the volume they typically do,” Linn said. “There are a lot of factors. It’s a very complex plan that you have to put in place.”

Linn has already seen glimmers of hope in her market with companies asking to recall temporary employees they had to furlough.

“I know this might sound strange, but if there was any franchise system I was a part of, I am grateful to be part of PrideStaff during a situation like this,” Linn said. “This is my third recession with my franchise, I’ve had it for 20 years, and I’m reminded every time of how fortunate I am of the choice I made.”

Meanwhile, Craig Paschich, the former president of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema who became a franchisee, has not fared as well as Linn and her team. Alamo Drafthouse won the 2018 Franchise Times Zor Award in the Courtside Seats category.

"I’m sad to confirm that due to the impact of the COVID-19 shutdowns, our three Alamo Drafthouse franchise locations in the Phoenix area have been forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection,” Paschich said in a statement. “Our intention is to use this opportunity to reorganize our finances and plan for the road ahead. We’re also currently working closely with the corporate team in Austin to determine our next steps. We’ve been privileged to have spent the past four years sharing the films we love with our friends in the Phoenix region, and we hope that taking these steps will put us on track to continue in the future."

Resale store pivots to selling online

Justin Crump, an Uptown Cheapskate franchisee in Utah, shifted his clothing resale store online during the two months physical locations were closed. Uptown Cheapskate won the 2018 Franchise Times Zor Award in the Express Yourself section. 

“We realized that more than ever, people were spending more time on social networks, so we launched a website to begin reaching out to those folks,” Crump said. “We were able to link our social media accounts to our website to engage people that way.”

In the middle of March, Crump’s locations were down about 70 percent in sales. Closed in April and half of May, they’ve recently started reopening storefronts and saw an encouraging response.

As a resale store, they’re seeing a lot of people bring in inventory to sell from the clothes they cleaned out of their closets during the shutdowns.

“We are happy to be back and having the doors open is an awesome feeling,” Crump said. “We have lost staff to unemployment and other opportunities that came up while we have been closed, but we are looking to add to our team and rebuild.”

The franchisor, Basecamp Franchising, has also provided support with marketing materials during the closure and reopening, as well as informing franchisees how to apply for relief funding.

“I think the best part of being a part of a franchise system is being felt right now as we wake up every day wondering what is in store for us,” Crump said. “Having others there to communicate with and celebrate with is the true strength of being a part of a system.”

Read more from our Zor Awards update series this week:

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
 
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
 twitter.com/mlarson1011.
 

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