For me, the value of owning a franchise has never been clearer.

Imagine you are an independent small business owner in Canada. You hear the news of a potentially deadly respiratory virus outbreak in China, where in the city of Wuhan businesses are being forced to close. The entire city is on lockdown. You think to yourself: that could never happen here. In the following weeks, news alerts flash across your phone of the virus spreading quickly to other countries where suddenly you find that your own city and province has issued a state of emergency. Now, for the good of public health, you are forced to close your doors and shelter in place. Now what?

Now imagine the same scenario if you were a franchisee. Yes, you are still terrified, but…

What you have at your disposal that the independent owner/operator does not have, is an abundance of support. Not only can you draw from the incredible ‘village of knowledge’ that is your family of fellow franchisees, but you have team of subject matter experts and entrepreneurs at Support Office with decades of combined experience working behind the scenes on your behalf. A good franchisor is not only providing you with real-time tools and support to enhance your marketing, brand positioning and operational protocols during a crisis, but also planning ahead on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis of how to accelerate growth and come out of a crisis stronger as a business owner and brand.

I am seeing many forms of support: assisting with lease abatement negotiations, deferring payments with vendors, offering strategies to help preserve cash, simplifying access for government supports and providing expert advice on all facets of the operation. Franchisors are answering the call and standing by their franchisees in the way a family should – by working together.

No one could have predicted or prepared fully for the magnitude of this crisis – everyone is struggling. As of yet, we do not have a clear picture of what is coming next, but seeing the way franchisors are stepping up to help franchisees navigate this pandemic has made me incredibly proud to be a member of this community. When asked “What is the most important action you can take to support your franchisees in a crisis?” Kim Hamm, President & CEO of Dogtopia Canada replied: “Over communicate. Everyone needs a sense of community and stability during uncertain times to validate that we don’t have all the answers we’d like, but are all navigating this together. Showing up as a leader to your teams, customers and communities with a consistent message allows people to focus on controllable actions they can influence and not get caught up in fear or panic.

Similar to the last financial collapse in 2008-09, there will be many small businesses that unfortunately don’t survive the economic fall-out from COVID-19. I wager that the majority of the ones that do will be part of a franchise system, answering the age-old question that people have debated since franchising began: “Why wouldn’t I just do this on my own?”

As said, for me, the value of owning a franchise has never been clearer.

Guest post written by Travis Tinning.