COVID-19 Updates: Read our blog for useful informaton about commercial, employment and family law issues.

The art of pivoting in response to COVID-19

Catherine Sedgley

In the great words of Mike Moore - “With every great tragedy comes the opportunity for great triumph”

Over the past 12 months, many local restaurants through to large companies have been forced to innovate and “pivot” their business in response to the often-unpredictable changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure their short-term survival and long-term resilience and growth. For those operating in the Australian franchising sector, some of the actions taken in response to COVID-19 has seen improvements in business performance and operations and have opened the doors to new ways of doing business for franchise networks, some of which have become a permanent offering or mode of operation.

Many restaurants in Australia have been severely impacted by the state-wide lockdowns and many owners have been forced to ponder whether to close their doors for good. The introduction of social distancing and caps on the number of in-restaurant diners forced many restauranteurs and cafés to heavily rely on takeaway and delivery services in order to survive.

Other responses to the COVID-19 pandemic include restaurants offering a flat rate for a set number of meals per week or per month, with limited menu choices. Others have offered a combination of pre-cooked dishes with sides or additions that could be prepared at home using ingredients supplied by the restaurant. Restaurants were also sending links to a video that walked the customer through their preparation of the meal incorporating an experiential and learning element to meal preparation. Many franchisors put these measures into place as a short-term fix, however many are continuing to provide these additional features as part of their permanent offering.

The COVID-19 pandemic also caused many franchise networks to reassess their investments in information technology, marketing and logistics, with many upgrading to ensure they could continue to service their customers and optimise any processes to keep on top of demand.

The key takeaways from the past 12 months for the franchise industry have been centred around flexibility and optimism. Having the manpower you need, when you need it, can mean the difference between struggle and success. The franchise networks that have persisted through the challenges of COVID-19 have been able to call on a flexible and engaged workforce, making it possible to adapt and scale up quickly and cost-effectively as demand increases and restrictions begin to ease.

Taking a business down a new path (with or without a global pandemic) is always challenging but an optimistic attitude is your biggest asset when it comes to overcoming challenges that an unplanned pivot entail. During the past 12 months, many franchise networks have had to keep their eyes open to opportunities and to take matters into their own hands, and not wait for someone or the Australian Government to fix it for them. We have all seen that things can change quickly and thinking on your feet and pivoting your operations early is key to keeping your business trading through the crisis and beyond.

Here at Coleman Greig, we are proud to see that with our expertise many of our franchisor clients have successfully pivoted their business during the last 12 months and it’s a pleasure to see the growth they have experienced as a result of remaining optimistic, thinking on their feet, adapting and finding new opportunities.

Whether you’re a franchisee or a franchisor and you require assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our friendly and dedicated members of Coleman Greig’s Franchising team, who would be more than happy to assist you.