Uncertainty. That was one of the biggest difficulties to overcome when the COVID-19 pandemic struck early in 2020.
Businesses didn’t know how long it would last, the overall impact it would have on the work climate or the potential effects on profits. From my personal life experience, uncertainty is always the hardest business atmosphere to work in. For Gotcha Covered, as was the case for many companies, there was a moment in time where the demand for our product decreased and decisions had to be made.To survive and thrive, we knew we had to make changes to adapt to this new business climate to ensure we stayed connected to our customers and franchisees. Both play an important role in the overall accomplishments of a franchise.
We were able to maximize technology early during the pandemic. Virtual appointments became the new frontier for our franchisees. We quickly developed and shifted our marketing message to promote virtual appointments, allowing our customers to know that we were continuing to do business despite the limitations and restrictions caused by the pandemic.This move was key because it showcased to the consumer that Gotcha Covered was going to remain open for all their window treatment needs, and it provided a small sense of normalcy during a time where many were seeking that comfort. It also proved that we had developed a method of operating that allowed us to conform to all the guidelines and keep our customers safe. For any business that is currently working remotely, virtual appointments are a must if you want to continue providing the services your clients want and need.
Technology and Consultation
Providing tools to our franchisees was paramount during the apex of the pandemic. We would not have been successful if our franchisees couldn’t maintain their relationships with the customers. Technology provided the perfect solution. Our proprietary software known as Gotcha Linked was repurposed and used to help our franchise owners run their businesses. The renovations to the software gave franchisees more resources for virtual appointments. Gotcha Inspired also became a resource often utilized to interact with prospective clients. The online tool helps franchisees learn about their tastes and preferences to ensure they provided options that the customer would love and enjoy. This not only provided much-needed information to the franchise owner but also made appointments more efficient and decreased the amount of one-on-one time required to move the client through the process.
Zoom, Facetime and Google Duo made appointments easy as well. While everyone was on lockdown, we used these devices to communicate with customers. A big part of our business is home walkthroughs because we need to get a visual of the interior of the house to help make our recommendations. When the stay-at-home orders were in place, video applications allowed homeowners to show us their interior while remaining safe. The shift to technology allowed us to bridge the communication gap when we were forced to switch from in-person meetings to virtual ones. Thankfully, we saw the shift coming and were prepared to make the change when it was necessary. Being able to display our excellent endto- end customer experience while abiding by the COVID guidelines and restrictions showed our customers that we werededicated to them and their needs.
My advice to any company looking to maintain their customer relationships while working remotely would be to make that shift to technology and utilize all the tools available to you. Staying in contact with the consumer is easier now than it has everbeen. Even beyond video apps or internalfacing software, social media provides an excellent outlet for reaching out and explaining your brand’s message.
The Power of Franchising
Navigating the turbulent waters of 2020 would have been more difficult if it wasn’t for the power of franchising. Franchises were able to tackle the issues that were presented successfully because they have a team of people with different voices and opinions. For individual business owners, developing a strategy for maintaining personal relationships may have been more
Franchises have the tools and technology to make the necessary shifts to get ahead of the problem and limit the negative impact. At Gotcha Covered, once the initial shock of the pandemic ended, we were able to have a successful year because we had a team of people ready to make the changes that were needed. Franchisees were able to thrive because the tools we developed gave them the ability to accomplish goalswhile many companies were just hoping to survive.
Paul Linenberg is the president of Gotcha Covered, a custom window treatment franchise that has over 120 franchises in the United States and Canada combined. The company specializes in providing end-to-end consultation to its clients. For more information, please visit gotchacovered.com. For more information regarding Gotcha Covered franchising opportunities, please visit