As franchises adapt their business practices following COVID-19 pandemic closures, they are finding it takes careful planning to make the process safe and efficient for customers and franchisors alike. City Wide Franchise, which manages janitorial and facility maintenance services, was a step ahead by creating a task force, Dominate After COVID-19 is Over (DACO). The task force came up with two creatively named programs—Project Lemonade and Project Tidal Wave.
“Project Lemonade is about making lemonade out of lemons. We wanted to reinvent ourselves and do a better job of communicating to our clients,” said Jeff Oddo, president and CEO of City Wide. “Project Tidal Wave is about the future and making a positive impact on our communities. We are looking at how we turn a ripple into a tidal wave by setting long-term goals.”
A fresh-squeezed action plan
As soon as the pandemic hit, employees from the City Wide home office in Lenexa, Kansas, studied U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cleaning protocols and put them into an action plan. Other staff focused on identifying reliable resources to purchase personal protection equipment (PPE). Employees shared information through call-in meetings three times a week.
City Wide contacted its clients about new cleaning and disinfecting services. One popular new service involves cleaning and disinfecting manufacturers’ trucks and shipping areas.
“Normally the manufacturers would do this themselves, but they needed the extra help,” Oddo said. “This disinfecting service allowed them to stay in business and helped to protect their employees.”
The new service also enabled City Wide franchise locations to enjoy record-breaking business in the months of April and May 2020.
A wave of support for first responders
City Wide franchise locations, grateful for the opportunities gained during the pandemic, have supported frontline workers in their communities with free services to first responders. Crews disinfected police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks throughout the country.
“We also had teams donating masks to hospitals and disinfectant wipes to food banks,” Oddo said. “I couldn’t be any prouder of our franchisees and their teams.”
A breath of relief for workers
Looking back to when the economy slowed down, Oddo said the biggest challenge City Wide franchise owners faced was fear of the unknown. “We didn’t know the impact the pandemic would have on our businesses and our community,” he said.
The City Wide home office avoided furloughing workers by redeploying staff in less busy areas to those that remained active. The company deferred its franchisees’ royalties and other fees during the pandemic’s peak. “Just showing concern without taking action does not pay the bills,” Oddo said. “By not worrying about fees, our franchisees were able to focus on their health and their families.”
Due to its business model and ability to address more than 20 facility solutions, Oddo believes City Wide will continue to receive more business, even once the coronavirus is under control.
“We are demonstrating our importance in keeping people safe,” he said. “I suspect instead of cutting back, our clients will add more services to protect their biggest asset—their employees.”