Marco’s leadership team has kept franchisees in the loop on every step as we navigate the challenges of the coronavirus
Franchise survival tactics during a pandemic, step 1: Communicate. Make that overcommunicate.
When the pandemic first started, the impact on businesses in general and restaurants in particular was nothing anyone had dealt with before. We were charting new territory, and we had to figure out quickly how to keep our guests and team members safe while supporting our franchisees in their businesses. Chief of Operations Tim Brown knew one thing for certain: It was going to be very important to keep everyone in the loop.
In the first few weeks, we took a “significant hit,” Brown says, “like every other restaurant in the country.” Then we put our heads together to fight our way back — not just maintaining, but actually growing during the pandemic, with record-breaking sales.
And we did that by communicating every bit of relevant information and every new operational change along the way.
Nothing was left to chance
“We created one central online resource, which all of our stores have access to and every manager has access to,” Brown says. “We provide signage talking about the changes we’re making inside the store as far as pickup orders that they could print out and hang on the front door, signage explaining to customers that the dining room is closed but we’re still open for pickup and delivery. We have explanations on how to execute contact-free delivery for our consumers, and best practices for how to execute curbside pickup for our customers.”
We valued contributions from franchisees and team members across the system, but nothing was left to chance or improvisation. There were some pleasant surprises. For instance, Brown says, Marco’s leadership realized early on that we could use Google Pay, Apple Pay and other automated payment systems to further reduce the likelihood of contact between guests and team members.
“All they have to do is wave the phone over the credit card reader and it’s almost an instantaneous transaction,” he says. “We don’t have to touch their phone, we don’t have to touch their credit card because it doesn’t require a signature, so easy for everyone to use, it’s one of those things that, in retrospect, we didn’t realize we were actually equipped to handle.”
There are training videos on hand-washing, a special COVID Task Force with daily coronavirus news updates, and standard operating procedures to deal with any sign of illness in a team member. We re-dedicated ourselves to becoming consumers’ go-to place for reliable home delivery and safe pickup. By overcommunicating with our franchisees, we have ensured that everyone, from our CEO to our delivery drivers, is on the same page.
“It’s amazing how well we’ve done as a brand coming together working side by side to make sure everybody has all these new SOPs and best practices right at their fingertips,” Brown says. “If they’re not sure how to handle cash, we’ve got a procedure for it. If they’re not sure how to handle dealing with signatures, we’ve got a procedure for that. It keeps our customers and our team members as safe as possible.
“We’ve got all that hung up in this online resource, and that reassurance for our operators has been really critical in keeping them operating at near full-capacity.”
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