The entire world has had to come to terms with the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown, and Prep’n Sell is no exception. Prep’n Sell now has franchisees in three different provinces – British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario – and franchisees in each province had to navigate different restrictions.
Certain types of home services or repairs must be addressed quickly or risk serious structural damage or involve health and safety issues, and with this in mind, governments designated some of Prep’n Sell’s service offerings as essential services, such as home repairs and maintenance, and moving services.
David Collier, founder and president of Prep’n Sell, says different provincial regulations prompted different responses from franchisees, depending on their location and the maturity of their franchise business. “Some of our franchisees almost completely shut down for several weeks in April, aside from performing emergency work,” he explains. “Some completed work that was ongoing at the time of the shutdown orders, while complying with all provincial safety measures, and had near-record sales during the height of the pandemic. Some were able to complete exterior work or in unoccupied homes that were being put up for sale.”
He adds that the pandemic hit at a particularly inopportune time for two franchisees who were just getting their businesses started as the situation worsened, but they made the best of their downtime by completing training and onboarding tasks and making valuable connections within their community virtually and by phone.
Adapting to COVID-19
Prep’n Sell franchisees had an important decision to make: Would they try to remain open using physical distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE)? Would they accept only “safe” work to try minimize the risk of exposure? Or would they shut down completely and hope their business could survive?
With this in mind, Prep’n Sell developed its COVID-19 Protocol, to be used whenever franchisees and their trades teams perform work on Prep’n Sell projects. This Protocol was also distributed to customers and the general public so they would know what to expect.
Collier also made sure that franchisees understood how Prep’n Sell ozone generators – an existing tool used for odour removal – could be used to mitigate pathogens on surfaces and in the air. Prep’n Sell quickly developed a marketing and information program and rolled this out to the general public introducing SANI-HOME & SANI-BIZ.
Prep’n Sell also partnered with another Canadian company to offer real-time virtual quotes using just the customer’s smartphone, with no software or app download required. This not only allays any physical distancing concerns, but also saves franchisees time and money by reducing the number of on-site visits they need to make.
As soon as it became apparent that COVID-19 would be an issue for businesses, Prep’n Sell looked at supporting its franchisees in three important areas – emotional well-being, compassionate financial support, and pivoting its service offerings to make the most of what was already in place and develop new revenue streams.
The frequency of internal all-franchisee meetings was doubled, going from bi-weekly to weekly Zoom meetings. “These ‘Franchise Forums’ are an integral part of what makes Prep’n Sell different, and in our opinion, better! We take ideas from every franchisee, develop them, and then roll them out to allow all our franchisees to benefit from each individual’s knowledge, ideas, and experiences. We take a very collaborative approach to franchising, rather than sticking to the usual top-down franchisor-franchisee relationship. For us, it’s the best blend of entrepreneurship combined with the safety net of a franchised business model,” explains Collier.
He adds that Prep’n Sell made the decision to waive mandatory minimum royalty payments beginning in March 2020. They decided to waive, not defer, monthly mandatory minimum royalty payments. This decision, while costly, was made with franchisees’ future financial health and happiness in mind, says Collier.
Prep’n Sell looked at the current service offerings and determined which services could safely be performed during the COVID-19 crisis, while observing all safety precautions. “We quickly began offering virtual quotes, at first using existing devices and apps, something we hadn’t done before, but which we see as an addition that we will keep once we get to our ‘new normal,’” says Collier.
Words of wisdom for prospective franchisees
Collier urges anyone considering franchising to take their time to carry out the proper due diligence. He says, above all else, you need to listen to your gut about whether this is the right path for you. “Now, as ever, it’s important to know yourself. Look deep inside, be honest with yourself, and decide whether you have what it takes to be a successful business owner. Ask yourself if you’re willing to work harder than you’ve ever worked before to be able to say, ‘this is mine, I’m responsible for my success or failure, and I’m the master of my own destiny.”