The Key Ingredient to Help Your Business Succeed in a Time of Uncertainty: Company Culture

The impact the Coronavirus pandemic has placed on today’s world has been shocking to our generation, to say the least. With businesses strained to make ends meet during the constant instability and uncertainty, it’s vital that business leaders are fluid and adapt to the demanding changes they’re currently faced with. With this in mind, Tropical Smoothie Cafe quickly pivoted our business model once the crisis struck our industry to focus on our top priorities – our franchisees and the communities we serve – and to help them navigate through the changing landscape.

No matter the industry your business is in, your franchisees, team members, and customers need to know that you have their best interest in mind – and that’s truer now than ever before. We’ve always emphasized our efforts to put our franchisees first and equip them with the tools and resources needed to help them serve their customers well and reach their full potential. It’s part of our culture.

As a business leader, if you’re unsure of how to maximize your company culture – the component of your business that truly defines you and invokes inspiration – take a step back and evaluate your mission statement and core values. This will help you remember where, and more importantly why, you started. Remembering your brand’s founding purpose will help your company culture naturally reignite. For Tropical Smoothie Cafe, we believe our mission to Inspire Better rings true for our guests, crew members, franchisees and support center team. When this pandemic began, taking a step to review and reiterate our mission statement truly helped us shift our strategies going forward. 

COVID-19 began to impact the franchising landscape in Q1, and that’s when we determined and began executing against our highest priorities, which included giving back to the community and providing support and resources for our franchisees.

A great way to boost company culture and employee morale is to give back to something or someone that your staff care about. Although this has been a time of uncertainty and devastation, it’s also been a time where we’ve seen communities come together to support each other and shed a light on resilience. Many businesses have come together to support healthcare workers and first responders who are going above and beyond as they work tirelessly to care for those who have been impacted by the virus.

For instance, Tropical Smoothie Cafe launched a 100,000 smoothie donation initiative. This initiative challenged local franchisees to donate smoothies to local essential workers and medical staff. Within a matter of a couple weeks, this initiative exceeded by double the initial goal – and the franchisees didn’t want to stop there – so we launched a new initiative to donate a total of one million smoothies by the end of May.

Whether it’s building technology and creating assets or streamlining operational process and communicating to franchisees, any initiative your business may decide to implement will always have a handful of challenges to overcome prior to launching it. However, if your business has the capacity to help and build that line of support, it’s a great way to bring your team together in a time where everyone seems apart. Helping essential workers during this time not only boosts company culture, but it motivates your franchisees to inspire their communities and provide their own level of support where they can. It’s a win-win scenario – your business is making a positive impact in its local markets while your employees feel motivated and appreciative to be a part of your brand.

When Tropical Smoothie Cafe launched its million smoothie donation campaign, there was no doubt that we had to overcome operational obstacles prior to debuting the initiative, but I can say with absolute certainty that these efforts have proven to be more worthwhile than we could’ve ever imagined, and our franchisees have truly taken giving back to their communities to the next level, especially when they need it the most.

Aside from helping the community, there are several other ways that businesses can show support for their franchisees both operationally and financially. A strategies we initiated to support our franchisees were decrease royalties, provide ongoing support secure financing through the CARES Act Payment Protection Loan, provide resources and guidance for negotiating real estate deferrals and abatements, deploy hyper-local marketing strategies to drive business within a 1–2-mile radius of locations, implement technologies to support curbside pickup and branded delivery, among many others.

Coming together and supporting each other as a brand has proven to be essential in our efforts to prosper in this environment. Some of these initiatives might cause your business to take a step back in growth, and there’s no doubt that today’s economy poses many challenges to the industry, but navigating through this will help businesses emerge quickly and come out much stronger in the end of this.

Charles Watson was named CEO in December 2018. In this role, he is responsible for the brand’s strategic vision and overall franchise performance. He was previously Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s Chief Development Officer since 2016 after serving as VP of Franchise Development since 2010. In these roles, Charles was responsible for all development of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe brand. A veteran hospitality professional, Charles has worked for several hospitality-related companies, including Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels Group, US Franchise Systems, Inc. and Hospitality Real Estate Counselors. Charles is a graduate of The Hotel School at Cornell University and also holds a Masters of Business Administration from The Terry School of Business at The University of Georgia

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