Leading a Restaurant Franchise During COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic hit restaurants with countless new challenges. The support of a franchisor with over 20 years of experience was critical. Consequently, Zoup! franchise owners were able to rely on the seasoned team of Support Center experts to act quickly with support and guidance through an uncertain time.

Communication is key

In response to the rapidly-evolving situation, leaders Jason Valentine, President, and Eric Ersher, Founder, quickly reacted to the need for added communication to the franchise system. As a first step, Zoup! Support Center held weekly webinars to discuss the rapidly evolving situation. Conversations revolved around topics such as changing operations, PPE application and landlord talks. Franchise owners were encouraged to ask questions, voice concerns, and share ideas or best practices.

From our very first restaurant in 1998, Zoup! training has stressed the importance of being “compulsive about cleanliness and food safety”. This foundation really helped us to maintain safe and healthy restaurants during COVID. To further protect team members and guests, Zoup! created a COVID-Safe Dining Room Plan for franchise owners. The plan outlined new social distancing and cleaning procedures, elevated “back of house” safety measures, “front of house” signage packages and other necessary training.

a little help from our friends

The Zoup! online ordering experience was already effortless, but COVID brought new demands. As a result, online ordering partner OLO was quick to activate new guest-facing options for contactless delivery and curbside pickup. Orders placed from a mobile device or computer allow guests to receive food in low or no contact ways and to schedule for specific curbside, pick-up or delivery times. In effect, ordering from the app has become more convenient than ever.

To combat COVID-related uncertainties, restaurants needed clear outdoor signage and up-to-date online listings. The marketing team provided digital “We’re Open” signs and subsequent others for owners to print and post outside open restaurants. Our platform for social media and listings management allowed real-time customer-facing updates such as shortened hours or limited dine-in details. The 2020 launch of Zoup!’s Insiderz Rewards program included guest notifications via email and text. Therefore, allowing franchise owners to update customers with the latest information on their favorite Zoup! These increased communications were essential as the COVID situation continuously evolved.

keep on Innovating

The Zoup! marketing and tech teams also reacted quickly to new market demand for individually-packaged group meal options, adding menu categories for Family Meals and Catering. To streamline orders from delivery companies, such as Doordash, GrubHub and UberEats, we activated technology that would feed the orders directly into our POS system. In effect, restaurants were able to run much smoother and remove additional tablets or external technology.

In conclusion, Zoup! continues to be a highly involved franchisor. We are committed to supporting franchise owners through this uncertain time and believe leadership, communication and execution are vital to the longevity of small businesses.

To learn more, download the free franchise guide below or contact Richard Zimmer at rzimmer@zoupco.com or call 800-940-9687 ext. 4