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Pitcher Partners' top tips for improving franchise business performance post COVID-19

September 2, 2020

COVID-19’s business impact is abundantly noticeable on a global scale. Business models and operations may have fundamentally changed forever. Whilst challenging, this also presents an opportunity for franchise businesses to evolve and explore new strategies. But where to start?  Here are three tips for improving your franchise business performance in the new landscape:

1) Leverage your tech learnings

If the last six months have taught us anything, it’s that technology can be effective in even more ways than expected. The role of regional or area managers has dramatically shifted, with less time on the road or in the air, and more time available to provide real time support. Being forced to readily adopt tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom has had the benefit of providing timely support to franchisees and enables live data sharing. If your business is integrated on platforms like Op Central, the quality of support conversations and ability to make real workforce and financial impact is dramatically increased. The benefits for both sides of the ledger, revenue increases and cost savings, mean this legacy from COVID-19 should improve your business.

2) Prioritise your growth options

Amongst the sleepless nights and tireless hours business owners have invested, the new landscape has also challenged existing business models. This includes everything from core products, how to access customers and the best distribution options for offerings. Digital growth has been the obvious growth channel through COVID, with many organisations forced to accelerate their online sales platforms. A crisis also encourages organisations to move swiftly and explore new avenues. Prototypes have been quickly tested and options that ‘are not quite perfect’ have been implemented with the intent to be agile. Organisations are also collaborating more and exploring partnerships with other providers to help accelerate access to new customers or products.

Moving post COVID, businesses should take an opportunity to take a step back and prioritise which growth options and activities can have the most impact for capital invested over the next 12 months. This exercise does not need to be complex but can provide a necessary focus. In the example below, the highest priorities might be amending the pricing strategy to account for less customers in-store and adding to the online products catalogue. The size of each circle reflects the effort required (smaller means less time), the higher on the matrix the faster to implement, and the further across indicates the level of return on investment opportunity.

3) Use customer data to drive your decisions

Many business owners we have spoken to commented on having a better relationship with their customers over this challenging period. The crisis has provided an opportunity to understand how customer behaviours are changing and what their different needs are. This is valuable data to help drive the future growth of businesses and gauge how products can be improved or which new markets can be explored. Traditional pubs and restaurants have embraced delivery options and there has been a rise in different customer experiences (online shared cooking demonstrations and customers preparing meals themselves from raw ingredients). This is a great example of absorbing changing customer preferences and adapting quickly with specific and targeted marketing efforts.

If you wish to help develop your franchise strategy and operations support, Pitcher Partners has all the tools and resources to partner with you. If you are interested on how your middle market peers are faring coming out of the COVID environment, please visit our website to see our recent national business radar survey and report.

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To learn more about how Pitcher Partners can help your franchise group improve performance, contact Nathan Hudson 03 8612 9296 or nathan.hudson@pitcher.com.au.

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