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6 Ways Being in a Franchise System Helped Me Survive Covid-19 Here's how franchise systems are built to handle pivots and pressure.

By Ruth Agbaji

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Tascha Rassadornyindee | EyeEm | Getty Images

Want to know one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made as a small business owner? Whether or not to become a franchisor and turn my brand into a franchise system. Turning Code Wiz into a franchise system came with many hard moments that challenged me as an entrepreneur. But becoming a franchise system has also rewarded me in ways I could have never even imagined. The other thing I could have never imagined? Living through a global pandemic as a business owner and leader.

But here I am. The proud owner of a franchise business and a survivor of 8-months of Covid-19 and the health and economic impacts it created. I am grateful every day - for both the health of my family and that I turned my business into a franchise. Because turning my business into a franchise system helped it survive Covid-19.

How?

Well. I boiled it down to six things.

1. Accessing the collective brain of the franchise system

Being a franchise system back in March 2020 felt like the worst-case scenario. Not only did I have my brand and clients to think of, but also the multiple locations and franchisees to manage and support. The idea of pivoting just one aspect of the business to survive the closures seemed daunting.

Related: 24 Top-Ranked, Affordable Franchises You Can Buy for $25,000 or Less

But now? Now I see the incredible value of having a collective brain all working together to solve the same problem. Working together with the entire franchise system: Franchisees, corporate office, employees, and contractors all with their own unique perspectives and solutions was crucial to pivoting our business. Looking back, I can't imagine going through something so big without the collective genius of an entire franchise system to pitch ideas and problem solve.

2. Test outlets for innovation

In a regular business, testing out innovative ideas or shifts in the business takes time. You have to trial and then adjust each idea. But having a franchise system allows you to try multiple solutions using each of the franchise locations.

Code Wiz had the ability to test out ideas for innovative shifts in the business structure through each franchisee. Being able to try various ideas out simultaneously was amazing. It saved our system time because we could test and adjust several ideas at once.

3. Emotional support

Services, budget, marketing, all things we successfully figured out a way to pivot when the lockdown began but a big part of surviving Covid-19 was the emotional support the entire team needed to get through the challenging closures and lockdowns.

Sometimes hearing that someone understands what you are going through, and is going through that same thing, is all you need to feel supported, seen, and heard.

Related: 5 Affordable Restaurant Franchises You Can Start for 5 Figures

Code Wiz ensured that the franchisees, employees, and the corporate team had time to discuss shared experiences and build a positive, can-do culture throughout the entire system. Creating those opportunities and leveraging the system was key to surviving COVID-19 on an emotional, personal level.

4. Assistance securing government funding

Securing Government funding was critical to our survival - Critical but so difficult to figure out the exact processes! These kinds of challenges are where a franchise system shines. Having a corporate team that could figure out the exact processes and potential landmines in applying for PPP and EIDL federal grant programs meant that our franchisees could focus on the front-facing tasks like client communication and marketing. When we each take on one part of the business system, we all reap the benefits.

5. Support from larger organizations

Being a franchise system comes with unique challenges and problems (franchisee support, location variance, brand consistency) which means we often require specific solutions. Having large organizations dedicated to creating solutions and advocating at the federal level for franchise businesses specifically is an invaluable tool for facing the pressures of Covid-19.

The International Franchise Association is such an organization that has dedicated itself to ensuring that all franchised businesses receive the support they need to weather the storm. From online summits to weekly inspirational messages from the chair to advocating for extra funding and business protections from the Government, Code Wiz took advantage of these large organizations and communities that banded together to provide franchise-specific solutions.

6. Access to specialized advice and collaboration

The franchising community really came together virtually to support franchisors and franchisees alike. Code Wiz had the opportunity to join free masterminds, roundtables, summits, and workshops that provided the tools and strategies to overcome some of our toughest challenges. At a time when revenues were tumbling down and budgets being slashed, many of the leaders in the franchising community really stepped up by providing free services to the entire franchising community.

Related: OK, Maybe You Should Run Your Franchise Like a Circus

Having a tight-knit community that understands franchise systems come together online to support, inspire, and pivot together was an incredibly unique and humbling experience.

Franchising Code Wiz led to hard decisions, stressful months, and a lot more pressure that I put on myself as a franchisor and business owner. But becoming a franchise system also gave me a solid structure, an amazing team, and an entire community of fellow franchisors that supported me and my business as we survived our biggest challenge yet.

I'd call that a fair trade.

Ruth Agbaji

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Nerd In Chief at Code Wiz

Ruth Agbaji is a 2019 IFA NextGen winner and the founder of Code Wiz, award-winning afterschool centers that teach children and teens to explore their creative side and learn problem-solving through coding and robotics. Find out more at https://codewizfranchise.com/

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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