I was having a conversation this morning with a fellow who represents a number of the franchises with which I do business. He asked me how things have been going during the pandemic and how I thought things had changed. I thought about it for a minute and this is the gist of what I said.
For most folks, investing in a franchise, or starting a business of any sort, is a scary process. It involves risk, both professional and financial. Oh sure, there are some well-to-do folks I’ve worked with who are just looking to start something up on the side while they keep their day job, but the risk is still there. While the risk is decreased when you go with a franchise (proven system, strong support team, etc.), you’re still jumping out of that airplane. Maybe you’ve got someone strapped to your back who has jumped a hundred times before, but it’s still a scary process.
The pandemic has only intensified that fear. Every person that goes into the process to any deep degree has hit the “stuff got real” moment when they have to make the leap or back away from the door. When almost every news story each day is bad and when neighbors, friends or family might be hurt by the pandemic, it’s a lot more difficult to convince people that they’re making the right move. Couple that with the fact that many 401K’s became 201K’s almost overnight and many people would rather not add to the risk it seems we all take just by waking up each day.
Many of the folks who express interest in learning more are, unfortunately, not good candidates for many brands. They don’t have much liquid capital and due to what’s been going on, their credit may be damaged. Honestly, some are pretty desperate to buy themselves a job which is not a great reason for them to be looking at starting a business. The virus has made it harder to find really well-qualified folks in many ways.
It hasn’t all been negative. Getting financing has rarely been less expensive for those who decide to move forward. The government has been delaying loan payments to help borrowers out. Some business sectors – in-home care, home repair and remodeling, cleaning, and some others – that were good businesses before are even better businesses now. I had one person who was looking at some food businesses shift overnight to wanting handyman businesses. That’s smart thinking because he is looking at the business as something that makes his goals possible and is unconcerned with the means to that end. Shifting on the fly is something we all need to be doing more of these days, right?
Those are my general thoughts about what’s happened to my business over the last few months. What’s going on with yours? How can I be helpful?
Happy Foodie Friday! One thing I’ve learned in my franchise consulting is that people have a fascination with the food business. A significant percentage of the candidates I speak with want to invest in something food and beverage related. I’m generally fairly blunt with them, reminding them that it’s often a business where you’re open for 14 hours a day and are really busy for about 90 minutes. The margins aren’t great, the labor is often unskilled and sketchy, and there are liability issues hanging around everywhere.
Today it’s those 90 minutes I want to talk about. The really busy time. It’s incredibly stressful from what I remember of my days working in foodservice. The stress precipitates everything from accidents caused by rushing to fistfights. It’s not for the faint of heart! That’s why I was happy to read the following this week:
Chipotle Mexican Grill will be providing access to mental healthcare and financial wellness for more than 80,000 employees in 2020 through Employee Assistance Programs and enhanced benefits offerings. This is just one of the many ways that Chipotle continues to enable its workforce by offering world-class benefits.
By simplifying access to mental health benefits and identifying work-related risk factors, Chipotle is trying to minimize the effect of mental health in the workplace.
So many good things here. First, I’ve worked for bosses to whom employees were disposable cogs in the business machine. Someone burns out and isn’t getting it done? Replace them and move on. It’s frustrating as hell when you don’t share their attitude but your hands are tied with respect to offering a solution to the stressed-out team member. Having also worked in places with an Employee Assistance Program I can tell you that they can be literal lifesavers and well worth the cost.
Second, you probably haven’t forgotten that Chipotle had some issues with e.coli a couple of years ago. You know you have a problem on your hands when research showed that 22% of all respondents and 32% of those who don’t currently eat Chipotle said that “nothing” would make them want to visit more often. The food issues have been fixed but the bad taste lingers. Demonstrating concern for your employees is part of rebuilding the brand. Happy employees don’t make stress-related mistakes that lead to bacterial contamination, right?
You can never go wrong doing right for your staff. As a manager, they are your eyes, ears, hands, and voice. Keeping them happy and healthy is doing the same for your business.
I was watching the Dems’ debate last night. I’m pretty much a political junkie and this has been an interesting few months as the Democratic candidates sort themselves out en route to a nominee.
As I was watching, I was reminded that the next year is really a very long job interview for a very big job. Watching the debate in that context made me realize that the moderators weren’t approaching it that way at all. They were asking the wrong kind of questions, at least right up until the last one about “someone we’d be surprised you’re friends with.” Let me explain because if you manage a business, hiring is one of the most important tasks you have.
If you’re still asking lame questions such as “tell me about yourself” or “where will you be in five years,” you really should leave the interviewing to someone else. The purpose of an interview is to find out things that aren’t on a resume but which have a huge impact on a candidate’s ultimate success or failure. In my mind, “smart” is the main thing I’m looking for along with intellectual curiosity. I spend my time trying to get answers that demonstrate a candidate’s possession of those qualities or lack thereof. To you, some other things might be important. You need to hone your questions to shine a light on the areas that are critical to you.
Don’t ask “yes/no” questions. Do ask hypothetical questions that reflect the reality of what will be the candidate’s day to day job. I used to test the candidate’s knowledge of my company to see if they really wanted to work there or if they were just looking for a job. “What did you find in your research about us that surprised you?” “As you were finding out about us, what questions came up that I might be able to help answer for you?” If the answers are vague or focused on things like salary or benefits, this is a person who wants a job and not a career. That’s fine, but it’s not what I want.
Asking the right questions can make all the difference in assembling a team for the long-term or constantly having to replace people who either leave for a better gig or who aren’t really qualified in the first place. The right questions get you the right people. You with me?