Reading Time: 4 minutesBusiness is about more than just the bottom line. In order to be really successful, sometimes you have to prioritise people over profits – and the COVID-19 crisis is very much one of these times.
Here at Spoton.net, we always look to take a caring, proactive, and ethical approach in everything we do. And during the last few months, we know that there have been some unprecedented challenges faced by our franchisees and their clients, which is why we have been doing everything we can to offer help and support.
Here’s a quick look at some of the measures we’ve put in place to make sure that we as a franchisor, our franchisees, and the thousands of businesses we support all emerge from these challenging times stronger together.
Supporting our network of franchisees
To help our franchisees with their cash flow during this uncertain time, they were all awarded a one-month free pass on their regular ‘Franchise Support Fee’. This was in an effort to provide some financial leeway at a time when cash flows were expected to take a hit.
In addition, weekly Zoom calls have been introduced across the franchise network. These are hosted by Alex Brook, our Franchise Support Manager, with guest attendance from a different manager or director each week.
This was in an effort to ensure information could be shared across the network and franchisees could support one another. They’re able to share best practice and new ways of working during this challenging time.
These Zoom calls prove to be very successful and helpful for our franchisees, such as Richard Hubble – our it’seeze consultant from Gloucester. Richard had this to say:
“I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the weekly update meetings over Zoom that you’ve been running for us all since the lockdown started. These sessions provide a great opportunity for us to all share best practices and real-world experiences, as well as useful tips on how we can best help our existing clients and, even more importantly, win new customers during this pandemic — information that is needed now more than ever.
Similarly, the support that the rest of the Head Office team have been providing to us, in what are obviously quite difficult and unusual circumstances, has continued to be first-rate throughout this lockdown period. I know that many of the other franchisees feel the same, so thanks again from all of us.”
It really means a lot to know that our support is making a difference during these tough times.
We’ve also created several lockdown-specific social media graphics and videos for our franchisees to promote our offerings and services during this time. Our in-house design team have created new images, gifs, and videos for the franchise network to use across platforms – these help to engage followers, whilst reminding people that we’re still here to help. In particular, these new social graphics highlight that to keep everyone safe, we’re now offering video calls instead of face-to-face meetings, but apart from that, our services remain as normal.
To provide our franchisees with more support, we prepared a marketing and communications guide for them to refer to. This makes it clear what changes we’ve made to our national marketing messages to adapt to the changes in the current market, and therefore what changes franchisees need to make at a regional level to ensure brand consistency. It also lays out what franchisees should and should not do in terms of messaging to ensure consistency and to uphold our brand reputation.
We have been working hard to develop a great team spirit over the past few months. One way we did this recently was through working together (albeit remotely) for our NHS fundraiser. We’ve been doing all we can to get franchisees and staff to collaborate remotely to achieve our shared goals.
Supporting our thousands of clients
As well as our franchisees, we also identified the need to keep all of our family of clients in the loop and supported. One of the main ways we could do this was through our client newsletters. These kept them informed of useful information – such as the financial support available for businesses – by sharing appropriate links to the government website and the FSB website. In addition, there were tips on how to promote their business, and advice on what updates clients could make to their website to reflect changes to their own business and the local support available to businesses in different areas.
We asked our customers to make contact with their local consultant if their business had been impacted by the lockdown or was unable to trade due to the pandemic. We then offered a suspension of their monthly payment plan and website services for an initial three months, pending further decisions by the government on businesses re-opening.
Similarly, we created a COVID-19 response page to help businesses find out more information all in one easy place to locate. This page highlights our actions as a company and offers up useful resources and official guidance for small businesses navigating this crisis. We’ve also created and shared several useful blog posts based on requests from franchisees, listening to what information they think will be useful to their clients.
A few weeks into lockdown and one of our franchisees – Suzy Perry, from it’seeze Bristol – hosted a national webinar open for anyone to attend, discussing online marketing tips to help small businesses survive during uncertain times. It proved to be so popular that we hosted this again a month later for those who were unable to attend the first time, this time with John Wright of it’seeze Horsham as the host.
We also introduced a website editor training course and added this to our Support Site. This will teach clients the basics of editing their website, and will help them to easily keep their site up-to-date. This is more important than ever, as our consultants are currently unable to visit their clients in person due to the lockdown, so this online editing course will assist with training clients remotely on how to edit their websites.
Likewise, we added the ability for clients to add pop-up notices to their website when visitors first arrive. This alerts them of any urgent business updates – for example, if a business is currently closed or not able to take new orders due to high demand.
We also enhanced our Shop package so clients can now temporarily disable their online shop using the new settings. This is a feature that many of our customers required, as they found they were unable to fulfil orders due to reduced staff, stock shortages, or a sudden increase in demand for products.
We’ll continue to do everything we can to help our franchisees and customers to get through the tough times. We’re always happy to help whenever we can, because we know that if we stick together, it will be easier for all of us.