In the current situation, your business activity will most likely have been impacted. Some industries have been affected more than others, but it’s inevitable that the pandemic will touch your franchise in one way or another. What makes franchising different is the fact that it is built on the foundations of support and cooperation. Franchise networks are there to support each other and come together in challenging times to succeed as one brand.
There will be many things to think about due to the current economic climate including key operational, financial and staffing decisions. However, one area that shouldn’t be overlooked at this time is marketing and PR. Many brands may use this as a time to step off the gas and hold back on any marketing activity, but now is in fact the time that you should be visible to your audience. Read our advice below on how to navigate your marketing and PR efforts during this time to ensure your brand is acting appropriately.
Be informative yet sensitive
During these times, it is vital for your business to be careful about the information you share. If your content comes across as insensitive, it can deeply impact your franchise and your brand image which you may not recover from. Do not attempt to use the current panic to your advantage. Your audience will be exposed to a lot of different information, content and posts circulating on the internet and will be able to spot cynical profiteering from a mile away.
Unless you are offering a genuine solution to a current problem or can provide valuable, helpful and insightful content, consider simply keeping your audience informed on any changes and updates to your operations through the situation rather than getting too involved in the matter. If you are sharing facts or news, ensure it is always from a reliable, trustworthy source.
During these unique times, it’s important to be aware of consumer behavior changes. Everyone is experiencing these unusual times together, so it’s important to consider your tone and language. Avoid opinions, gimmicks or anything that could potentially offend particular groups. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Keep aware of consumer trends and get involved where appropriate.
Communication is key
Updating your customers on any business changes is important for your brand throughout this unusual time. Although the situation may evolve rapidly, having a communication plan for both internal and external use is a time saver when handling a crisis. A common mistake you should avoid making is leaving people in the dark and stopping all communication. Customers will appreciate honest, transparent communications.
Information you should communicate can include, for example: changes in opening hours, implementation of remote-working, site closures, or any other operational changes your customers should be aware of. Preparing statements can offer reassurance to not only customers, but all of your stakeholders, as each message can be tailored to suit the particular recipients (customers, social audience, employees, suppliers, partners, etc). Make sure all parties are appropriately informed and given all the relevant information in a timely manner. Avoid creating one universal statement, as each party will have different interests in your franchise.
Many brands are using this time to give back to their community and support the people who are most vulnerable just now. If your brand can help, we encourage you to get involved where you can! In the franchising industry, we are fortunate to be part of a very supportive community, so let’s use it to benefit the wider community in this time of need. Consider collaborating with others to support those in need, whether it be donating products, initiating a fundraising challenge or just offering a helping hand in the local community.
If you’re a franchisor on Facebook you can join our Franchise Advisory Board Group where members are sharing examples of support using the hashtag #FranchisingHelps. The hope is that by posting your stories and ideas it might inspire others to help with your initiative or even start their own! We will do our best to promote your stories, suggestions or requests for help far and wide!
Platinum Wave is here to support your franchise through this time, and beyond. If you need additional support, please get in touch with us here.