How to avoid a coronavirus crisis in your franchise

By Wendy Rokich | 10 Mar 2020 View comments

As if drought and bushfires hadn’t been enough for our economy to suffer with over the past few months. Now we have the spread of coronavirus to manage as well.

During this difficult time franchisors have an important role to support their franchisees, who will be managing the immediate concerns of staff sickness, minimising the spread of the virus and maximising standards of hygiene.

The key thing for franchisors is to provide guidance which helps franchisees keep their business running whilst protecting the health of their employees and customers.

Brand reputation must be a major consideration here – being prepared is the best way to manage and  minimise any negative publicity and the resulting financial burden this could bring to the business.

So franchisors can lead on this. Ensure that your franchisees are planning for possible impact to their business and people and implementing ways to prepare for the spread of coronavirus. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

6 key considerations

Every business is different but some common principles and questions will apply:

  • Consider any requirements to ensure business continuity, assess key business risks and what mitigations can be implemented. This includes assessment of potential economic impact from the combination of bushfire, reduced tourism and potential shortages of labour in the event of illness or need to isolate as a result of coronavirus or a sever winter flu epidemic.
  • Develop strategies and contingency plans in the event that critical employees are required to isolate or become ill, including planning to manage workload?
  • Review or develop a crisis management plan
  • Consider how will the outbreak affect franchisees’ travel requirements and supply chains?
  • Would rationing popular items help prevent customer stockpiling of groceries and health products?
  • Do franchisees have set processes in place for managing hygiene? For example we would recommend regular cleaning of hard surfaces and door handles, and ensuring supplies are in place to support personal hand hygiene.

As ever, communication is key across the piece. We would recommend preparing policies which cover all aspects of crisis management. These can be given to franchisees then adapted if necessary to suit particular requirements, so that the franchisees and their staff all understand their rights and responsibilities.

The HR Dept is well-placed to help franchisors and franchisees, and we have a dedicated page on our website which tackles many of the questions business owners will be asking. It can be found here The Government has also set up a Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

Remember, every crisis presents an opportunity. This is a chance for franchisors to demonstrate support for their franchisees, strengthening the relationship for the future.