last updated 15/04/2020
Helping franchisees #3 – Childcare & Education
last updated 15/04/2020
In the third of our lockdown series looking at what franchisors are doing to help their franchisees, we talk to pre-school educators Just Kidz
Just Kidz has five pre-school education centres around the Auckland area, operating out of purpose-built premises every working day from 7am to 6pm. The brand started in 2001 and has a mix of company-owned and franchised centres, mostly in areas of new development. Vanessa Henry is the franchise’s Operations Manager.
Vanessa, you’re in one of the fastest-growing sectors of recent years and now it’s come to a dead stop, like many others. Once the schools open again, though, everything’s going to be full-on again. Keeping ready for that must be quite a challenge.
1. Are your franchisees able to do any part of their normal business at the moment and is any part of their business classed as essential?
No. As we understand it, when the Alert Level drops to Level 3, pre-school Centres will provide care for children of essential workers; Level 2 should allow the resumption of all operations.
In the interim, franchisees, with their managers and staff are maintaining relationships with the families and children in their Centres through a range of platforms. They use an online portfolio and news platform called Educa, as well as Facebook, Facetime with families and phone calls to share ideas and activities and keep connected.
We’re also helping them to maintain their teacher registration requirements and encouraging professional development.
2. How are you supporting the financial well-being of your franchisees through this period?
We are assisting the Centres with their Business Interruption insurance claims, as well as helping them with wage subsidy requirements. Although our Centres are purpose-built they are not owned by the franchisees, so we are also supporting them with lease contracts and rent abatements negotiations with landlords. Because we operate some Centres ourselves, we understand the operation intimately so can also provide advice on stopping various service providers who are not required during the lockdown.
3. How are you supporting the personal well-being of your franchisees? What communication systems are you using?
By staying connected. We use email, phone calls and Microsoft Teams to stay connected and chat frequently, sharing new information, answering questions and providing guidance.
4. How are you supporting yourself and your head office team in working from home? What are they able to do?
The way we look at this is that we have a good opportunity to polish our practices and processes. Reviewing our current practices and developing new ones is a good use of the time, along with developing new strategies and marketing initiatives.
5. What steps are you taking to help franchisees to restart their business once this period ends?
We will have marketing initiatives in place along with communication strategies, staying current with information as it comes to light and preparing to meet all requirements for re-opening. In readiness for opening, each Centre will be deep-cleaned and sanitised, and all staff will be ready with procedures in line with Ministry guidelines to ensure the protection of all that use the Centre.
Staying connected with staff and families during this time is the most important thing for a smooth transition back into full operation.
6. Any other comments you'd like to add?
Just Kidz is proud of the way that our franchisees and their teams are handling the current situation. We plan for the long term – ours is a renewable 15-year franchise agreement, so we are confident that they will only be strengthened by the hard work they are putting in at this time. Our 20 years’ experience in the industry along with our experience with landlords and insurance claims is proving invaluable.
Thank you for sharing this with us – it’s a nervy time for many small businesses and good to see how Just Kidz is supporting its franchisees.
Read a summary with links of where to get up-to-date and accurate information about the relief available for businesses here.
Franchise Accountants has prepared a resource which outlines how employers treat the Wage Subsidy and related matters. This guide answers a lot of questions and covers off some practical examples and tips. Download your copy of the guide here.
Note: the Franchise Association of New Zealand is hosting a series of 45-minute Virtual Meetings via Zoom for all interested franchisors and/or their staff on the topic Positive Actions Franchisors Are Taking. These are open to non-member franchisors – to be invited, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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