These are extraordinary times for all businesses across the globe and not just franchise businesses. Many business owners, as well as franchisors, are currently in limbo with both their business planning and the day-to-day operation of their franchise models. Aspray’s property loss assessing, repair and reinstatement franchise business is no different in terms of the challenge, but we do at least have some things in our favour.
Taking our lead from the British Franchise Association, which says franchisees want their franchisor to focus on the practical and which adds that, “what is clear is that franchisees are looking for guidance and inspiration from their franchisor,” we have looked at what makes our professional franchise opportunity more resilient than many others. Here are our thoughts.
- The BFA states there is a perception that franchised businesses are more resilient in times of financial downturns. This is something we support. Our professional property damage insurance claims franchise opportunity is one backed by a franchise model that is tried and tested and which offers peaks in business, which can often offset downturns. Climate change has made weather conditions highly unpredictable and often more extreme, which can lead to extensive property damage. This is not going to go away, even if the environment has been a beneficiary of lockdown through reduced emissions. Additionally, our franchisees do not have to go it alone like many business owners. As their franchisor, we are here to support them.
- Whenever lockdown lifts, we are likely to see a surge in customer enquiries, as some property owners will have “sat on” property damage and not reported this to their insurers, in an attempt to stay safe. This action may actually make our loss assessing service more important for homeowners and commercial property owners, as we could potentially find insurers asserting that delay in reporting made the damage more extensive. This could possibly be an argument we have to counteract, on our clients’ behalf.
- Getting a business back up and running might be difficult for some franchisors, as many rely on global supply chains to provide franchisees with the ‘tools’ for the job, whether that is physical product or imported food supplies. Business advisers are encouraging businesses to shorten their supply lines when they re-open, to make them less vulnerable. The beauty of our property damage claims management franchise model is that it does not rely on such a supply chain. Being service-based, rather than product-focused is a real advantage. Our customers are often on our franchisees’ doorsteps and there is no middleman between franchisee and client. Also, since many claims are a result of escape of water, requiring immediate action, many of our franchisees are still visiting customers to deal with such emergencies and their vetted tradesmen are still fixing leaks, where required.
- Other franchise experts are urging franchisees and potential franchisees to focus on omni-channel distribution capabilities and technology. Our franchisees may have to think a little differently, but they are, at least, able to take client instructions over the phone or via video-link, or visit customers, where required, ensuring that social distancing measures are met of course. They can sometimes inspect damage via video or images. They can progress property claims for their clients once damage has been assessed, as the FCA has deemed claims handlers to be key workers. We need to bear in mind that, even 18 months ago, some insurers were assessing claims on the basis of evidence loaded up to an App. If digital reporting of claims worked for them then, there is no reason why it should not do so now.
- Our franchise model has the flexibility to allow for franchisee creativity when it comes to attracting new clients. Whilst we have always promoted networking as a key way in which they can attract business, there is no reason why they cannot, with a bit of organisation and planning, join networking via video conferencing. If their network organisation’s administrator is not doing that, our franchisees can push them to do so, or offer to set something up with the administrator’s contacts.
- Finally, experts are stating that franchisors should show leadership, to boost their franchisees’ morale and demonstrate their commitment to them. This is happening here. Aspray is leading the way amongst the loss assessing community, by continuing to offer a loss assessing service to customers throughout the UK. As the BDMA has highlighted, properties flooded just before the pandemic will still be drying out and need repair works carrying out, so they can be reoccupied. Additionally, fires and escapes of water can create health conditions and mental health issues that need to be addressed. We can only echo the BDMA when it says: “We provide an essential service to people in a time of absolute desperation and crisis in this, their greatest time of need.”
To summarise, the Covid-19 situation is hugely damaging for all businesses but not all franchises will be able to cope in the way in which, with adjustments and a little creativity franchisees’ role in property reinstatement, the Aspray model can.
With the ongoing need for property owners, whether homeowners or owners of commercial property, to strive to gain a fair entitlement from their buildings’ insurance, the demand is always there for our franchisees, because things do go wrong, to lesser or greater degrees.