The Power of a Franchise Network During a Crisis
Those who want to go into business for themselves soon come to a fork in the road.
Do you start from scratch or, more commonly, acquire an independent business that’s for sale by a retiring owner? Or, do you go the franchise route?
With the independent option, you’ll sidestep the up-front franchise cost. You will also avoid ongoing royalties and other potential fees which are usually assessed at a small percentage of sales.
Of course, if you go it alone you’ll go without the support of a franchising organization. The best ones offer initial and ongoing training. They assist with systems and technology. In addition, they develop marketing initiatives to drive business your way.
As recent events have demonstrated, there’s one more potential plus to owning a franchise and, for many, it’s a game-changer — gaining network support during a crisis like the COVID-19 Pandemic.
We can’t address the efforts of other organizations, but we can describe the measures that Alliance Franchise Brands (AFB) has implemented to assist Image360 business owners of late.
Helping franchise owners obtain funding
Quickly recognizing that getting cash would be key to Image360 center owners, we reached out to a team of leading accountants, attorneys, and bankers.
In all likelihood, our organization’s size (over 600 franchises) helped us gained fast access to top professionals who would not be as responsive to a sole proprietor.
We also capitalized on our memberships in the International Franchise Association (IFA) and Canadian Franchise Association (CFA). They represent the industry in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa, Ontario respectively and stay abreast of all legislation affecting franchise businesses.
Drawing on these resources at the outset of the crisis, we delivered a comprehensive Franchise Member Liquidity Resource Guide to Image360 center owners. It was created to help them find sources of cash and apply to government programs to weather the crisis.
Did it work? Yes, and by two measures.
Early on, we compared our data with a survey released by the International Franchise Association. We found that businesses affiliated with AFB obtained federal government funding at a 63% success rate. In contrast, IFA franchises across multiple industries gained approval only 36% of the time.
Then there’s the anecdotal evidence from our franchise owners.
“The home office’s help with our liquidity was tremendous,” said Jim Elder, owner of Image360 St. Louis West, Missouri. “The guidance they provided made it easy for us to understand the process of applying for assistance. With this information, we were able to obtain funding in the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and receive an emergency advance through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.”
Assisting Image360 centers to regain sales
As maintaining liquidity became less of an issue as the crisis went on, we ramped up our efforts to help AFB-affiliated franchise businesses recover sales revenue.
Our Get Back To Business webinar kicked off the effort. It was followed by a steady stream of marketing support materials. Some established Image360 centers as a go-to local source for reopening expertise. Other communications targeted the most promising sectors for the products and services offered by our franchise members.
“It was fantastic. We appreciated the many get-back-to-business tools,” said Adam Wodka, owner of Image360 South Bay, Manhattan Beach, California. “These included industry-specific sales sheets, timely marketing material templates and Ready, Get Set, Go! checklists. All helped us transition to regaining sales as restrictions lifted.”
Short of creating marketing strategies and materials “in-house” or seeking the help of an advertising agency, it’s not likely many individual businesses would benefit from the kind of all-encompassing assistance that Alliance Franchise Brands furnished.
Providing many other intangibles
While liquidity guides and back-to-business marketing programs are easy to point to, other support provided by AFB to our franchise members was more subtle but no less important.
Throughout the crisis, our leadership team and regional directors were available day and night to field calls and offer expertise. Many have decades of experience in the business. And, all have a vested interest in the success of our franchise operators.
Image360 business owners also benefited from membership in the network’s fraternity of fellow franchise members.
“During it all, it was reassuring to be able to call other Image360 center owners,” said Wodka. “We don’t share territories, so they’re not competitors. But, we do share challenges, so they’re willing collaborators. We talk about issues and how to apply solutions.”
Like to learn more about the advantages of franchising with Image360?
An Image360 business is a sales-driven, solutions provider in the area of visual communications. We are uniquely equipped to provide our franchise members with an unmatched level of support in the industry.
Drawing from more than 25 years of leadership and innovation in the industry, Image360 is now one of the top business-to-business (B2B) franchises, serving the multi-billion-dollar market for graphic communication services.
Image360 franchise members offer professional graphic communications services to national, regional and local businesses and organizations, including environmental graphics, mobile graphics, way-finding solutions and promotional displays.
To learn more about the Image360 franchise opportunity, contact us today.