When considering a franchise, many things are on your mind. It’s important that you can see a natural fit and a synergy between the business you’re considering and your skills, talents and of course, enthusiasm. But, buying a franchise goes much deeper than just ticking the business blueprint box doesn’t it?
You must feel confident that you’re also joining a network where the franchisor really has your interests at heart and, that when the going gets tough, they are unequivocally on your side.
No ifs or buts.
It’s an understatement to say that the going got tough when the coronavirus pandemic struck. For many businesses, their survival was suddenly at stake no matter how profitable and successful they had been up to that point.
Franchised businesses were not immune although there was the comfort of solidarity in numbers and of course that proven business blueprint.
And so, I want to share with you how we have navigated through the pandemic; the support we have offered our franchisees – practical, financial, and moral - from the outset.
I hope this provides you with a good indication of our ethos, our values and how we look after each one of our franchisees when business becomes anything but usual.
When you distribute your printed magazines through school book bags and the pandemic means all schools are closed within days, it is a problem of some magnitude to say the least.
Undeterred, I decided that our summer editions would be digital E-Zines instead. We have been a multichannel business for many years and so I was confident we could give our loyal audience exactly what they needed; a Raring2go! tonic if you like. At this point I also decided that our ‘tone of voice’ across all communications, especially social media would be one of positivity and optimism. At all costs we would avoid referencing the Covid19 situation in pejorative terms. There was more than enough negative content on this. I wanted our readers to receive our communications with enthusiasm and a smile.
Usually my franchisees print one summer edition of Raring2go! but thanks to my brilliant network and their vision, it became clear that we could in fact produce two summer digital magazines -with a little planning and a hefty dose of creativity and flair.
By doing this we could keep our audience on board and our advertisers too. Because our magazines are unique in that they are truly local to our readers – families with young children – these readers would be completely up to date with what was happening (and what was not happening) in their local area.
I have always worked in a collaborative manner with my franchisees and we have excellent channels of communication. So, I was confident that rolling out my decisions and sharing my thoughts with my network was going to be a positive exercise. In conjunction with my franchisee council - a group of franchisees who sit with me on a consultative panel making strategic decisions together - we set about producing our ‘plan’.
One of the most important things to agree on was the monthly support fee. For Raring2go! franchisees this is a fixed amount (not a percentage of turnover as is the case with many franchises). We also looked at supplier’s costs and terms and, how we could add value to our franchisees’ businesses during what was set to be an extended period of uncertainty and severe disruption. We then looked at how we could help our franchisees communicate with their customers and the schools that distribute their magazines. Our focus was on positive outcomes; for our franchisees, their customers, the schools that distribute their printed magazines and their readers.
Within four days we had a compelling action plan we were all agreed upon.
The time to thrive is in the future but for now survival was the goal. I knew I would have to temporarily furlough two head office staff albeit. I’m pleased to say they were only furloughed for one 3-week period until the dust had settled and we had a better view of the landscape ahead of us.
This was a real testament to the relationships we have built with our suppliers. Their support has been incredible.
It is evident to me how our franchisee network respects the fact that everything we plan on doing is discussed and agreed by a representation of their peers and myself before it is unleashed.
Our debt recovery partners, Direct Route made the case that to protect their cashflow, our franchisees should not shrink from collecting overdue payments from customers. During a webinar they provided some very handy tips on how to do this. This has resulted in some very happy franchisees recovering debts they had all but written off.
As I mentioned earlier, it was important that we were seen and, perceived by our family audience as a voice of reason and optimism at a time of great uncertainty and anxiety. So…
What has been truly heart-warming throughout all of this is seeing our franchisees using our portals to sound out their peers on wording for posts to ensure they are within the guidelines. They also share a great deal more which is just as it should be.
We issued guidance at the beginning of the lockdown on how our franchisees should work with their advertisers. So many had been badly impacted by the lockdown.
The positive reactions from advertisers, schools, and parents alike to these initiatives has been tremendously rewarding.
I have always considered Raring2go! to be a family friendly franchise. It enables franchisees to strike a healthy life-work balance and work around their families. But it is also a family of individuals and of course a community of franchisees. And when the chips are down, we all pull in the same direction for the greater good.
I take my responsibilities as the franchisor of this incredible network very seriously. It is more than a business to me. It is a way of life and I would not have it any other way. Let’s talk if you are interested in finding out more about being in business for yourself as a Raring2go! franchisee but, never by yourself.
I have never felt the value of being in a team more than in these last few months. Although I am my own boss, the support of our franchisor during lockdown, has been second to none. That support has seen regular and honest communication; training; practical advice; forward planning; and pulling together all editors to share ideas on how best to support customers and motivate each other.Sally Walters, Editor Raring2go! – Kidderminster & Stourbridge
I have achieved so much in my confidence, building friendships, getting out into networking groups. If you’re thinking of working for yourself, to have a great job opportunity that is flexible around your family and lets you still do everything you need to do for your family then Raring2go! is for you.Kiri St George Editor Raring2go! - Worthing
I’m proud to be part of the Raring2go! national family and love what I do. Every day brings something new and we not only help local families have fun and make the most of the local area but we help local businesses reach those families, helping our local areas thrive. What’s not to love about that? #Raring2go!Victoria Withy Editor Raring2go! - Aberdeen City & Shire
An enviable life / work balance
A supportive franchisor who works in partnership with the franchise network
No childcare costs, no stressful commute, up to 13 weeks holiday per year