Michael Browning starting planning his company’s reopening strategy the moment the pandemic hit. As the CEO of Urban Air Adventure Parks, he had a lot to consider and treated the challenge with an aggressive and systematic approach.
Michael Browning, CEO, Urban Air Adventure Parks
With more than 135 franchised units (70 of them under development), Browning and his team juggled many moving parts. There were a different set of considerations for each group of people that make the company successful: employees, franchisees, and customers. “As a franchisor, you have to react swiftly to a crisis. We’re accountable to a lot of people,” he says.
Instead of guessing what his customers might want upon reopening, he went right to the source. His team surveyed more than three million customers to gauge their comfort levels and see what changes the company should implement. “As a father of three small children, I understand parent’s concerns. I also understand the amount of pent-up energy that kids have from being quarantined. We prepared franchisees for a smooth reopening,” he says.
Going a step further
Upon reopening, the corporate team followed CDC guidelines, but went a step further and made additional changes based on customer feedback. Among the changes were mandatory, “hands-free” online ordering of tickets and food, mandatory temperature checks at the doors, and thorough, hourly cleaning of facilities.
For the more that 12,000 employees of Urban Air, an “intent to return” survey was conducted. “This helped us understand how many employees were returning and how many we needed to hire before we opened doors.” Since a lot of staff are teenagers, franchisees were encouraged to contact employee’s parents to communicate the company’s safety protocols. “We wanted our staff and their families to feel comfortable,” Browning says.
Through the entire experience, Browning was impressed by the grit of his franchisees and feels that the entire system improved from the experience. “Where there is turmoil, there is opportunity,” he says.
A smooth reopening
To ensure a successful reopening, the corporate team at Urban Air Adventure Parks educated employees and customers with videos and marketing materials. Extra procedures were put in place based on customer feedback, including:
- Mandatory temperature checks upon entry
- Thorough, hourly sanitizing of entire facility
- Mandatory, online ordering of tickets and food
- Standardized social distancing protocols
- Mandatory wearing of masks for employess