FASTSIGNS certainly got going at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic
In the immortal words of Billy Ocean, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. When a problem arises, as a franchisee, you need to know exactly who’s in your corner and what support you’ll receive.
On March 23, 2020 FASTSIGNS franchisees found out exactly the kind of support their franchisor was able to implement to help them weather the oncoming COVID-19 storm.
With the unpredictable circumstances, it would have been understandable for FASTSIGNS, as the franchisor, to hang back and get a ‘lay of the land’ as the situation unfolded. However, FASTSIGNS International’s CEO, Catherine Monson, decided to act proactively.
Considering world events prior to March 2020, FASTSIGNS had already commissioned a document advising franchisees on best practices for weathering a recession.
Although it was not planned for release until required, it was provided to all 700-plus franchisees, accompanied by a strong dose of Catherine’s personal positive mental attitude and adopting motivational speaker Zig Ziglar’s quote as a mantra for the network: “Expect the best, prepare for the worst and capitalise on what comes.”
To do this virtually overnight, the FASTSIGNS resource site was launched as a hub for emerging information, which all franchisees could access.
In addition, Catherine hosted weekly international conference calls to keep the network abreast of global changes, share best practice and recognise the efforts of franchisees.
UK task force
In the UK, the dedicated support team focused on in-country information, setting up a ‘local’ weekly conference call, while a task force of five franchisees was launched to spearhead initiatives. Within two weeks, the task force had recognised the need to pivot and had implemented:
- A set of standard infection control signage. Easily replicable by each centre, it allowed customers to be compliant with COVID regulations.
- An ecommerce site that removed barriers to purchase and sidestepped FASTSIGNS’ usual consultative selling process, although this remained available if a business required bespoke COVID signage.
- An intensive marketing programme to raise awareness of FASTSIGNS’ capabilities available to businesses navigating the pandemic.
The UK support team worked with each franchisee to understand their individual situations, preparing cash flow forecasts, managing resources, assessing staffing costs and advising on furlough opportunities, creating individual action plans for centres and enabling them to obtain the financial support that would become available.
For each centre, three scenarios were worked up that focused on the potential ‘good’, ‘better’ and ‘best’ outcomes, helping franchisees to be aware and informed whatever the eventual outcome.
All of this felt reactive in March 2020. However, it created a solid blueprint for Lockdown 2.0 in November and Lockdown 3.0 in January 2021 and has meant that despite the challenges of the global pandemic FASTSIGNS franchisees have been able to thrive.
While no one can predict the future, for franchisees it’s positive to know that during challenging times they’ve got the backing of a franchisor that’s prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with them, no matter how heavy the storm.
At a glance FASTSIGNS
Number of franchised outlets:
24 in UK. Over 700 worldwide
Location of units:
Birmingham, Bolton, Brighton, Chelmsford, Crawley, Enfield, Gloucester, Guildford, Hammersmith, Huddersfield, Hull, Islington, Kingston, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Maidstone, Milton Keynes, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Southampton, Sheffield, St Albans, York
Minimum required capital:
01785 253140. firstname.lastname@example.org