News Items

last updated 22/04/2020

Helping franchisees #7 – Preparing to Re-open

last updated 22/04/2020

How are franchisors helping their franchisees prepare to re-open once we move down from Level 4? BurgerFuel has been working on it from the start of lockdown – we asked them to tell us how they’ve approached a situation no-one ever expected

Jason Lowery of BurgerFuel NZ

A genuinely iconic New Zealand brand for over 20 years, BurgerFuel has 56 franchises around the country. The greater BurgerFuel Group also operates the Shake Out and Winner Winner brands. Like every other food & beverage chain, they had just 48 hours’ notice of the Level 4 lockdown ­– but they already had planning underway, working not just on closure procedures but also working on the more complicated issue of re-opening. It’s that sort of forward-thinking that makes being part of a good franchise so valuable. We spoke to Jason Lowery, the NZ Country Manager for BurgerFuel.

1. Jason, you mentioned in a recent Franchise Association session that BurgerFuel had produced a detailed re-opening plan for franchisees. When did you start working on that?

When the first signs of Covid-19 hit our nation, we had already strengthened the lines of communication between our Operations Managers and franchisees. Daily emails were sent to all franchisees with a current update on Covid-19 and what it could mean for our business. This was alongside 24/7 support from all Area Managers. The initial planning of our franchisee re-open booklets started approximately a week and a half before Alert Level 3 was announced.

2. Which members of the team were involved?

We set up a Crisis Control Centre for the entire Group at our HQ. This was all about getting the right people and information centralised in one room. Each day, the nation was receiving new information so it was important that our Covid-19 team met every morning to filter fact from speculation and discuss what it meant for our industry.

This team was managed by our COO who was the control room manager, assisted by a control room coordinator. We had a central comms person who was responsible for creating central communications for our brands to use internally and externally. The leader for each brand would then take this one source of truth and tailor it to their brand, business and audience. This was to ensure it was relevant and familiar to their franchisees and company-owned stores.

We also had another team dedicated to working on Business Continuity Planning (BCP). This team focused on forward solutions and weren't distracted with the current updates as they needed to procure and distribute supplies, create new IT solutions, marketing materials, training modules and tools.

These teams met daily in the weeks prior to lockdown. During lockdown this reduced to two check-ins each week with the use of online collaborative tools for constant updates. The meetings followed a set structure to ensure nothing was missed, even if there was no change to status.

3. What are the main headings in the booklet?

In our booklet we covered all the main areas of business operations to ensure nothing was missed. Our main topics are:

  • Store re-opening checklist
  • New contactless sales channels
  • Employee support
  • Supplier capability

Then there are additional supported headlines such as Queue Control; Order Handovers; Employees; HQ Support; and Suppliers. 

4. How detailed are the checklists?

We tried to include as much detail as possible. During times like these it is so easy for someone to forget some of the simplest – but most important – things, like turning off the 'open' sign, for example. For re-opening, we broke the checklist down into three different sections. 

Seven days prior to opening checklist
This focuses on ensuring all staff have completed their online e-learning training, rosters are prepared and stores understand the new contactless sales channels such as home delivery, kerbside pickup, and store-front pick up.

Two days prior to opening checklist
This focuses on cleaning and sanitising the entire store, verifying all equipment works, ordering stock and ensuring all staff are confident about returning to work.

Opening day checklist 
This focuses on business as usual whilst working with the 'new normal' of physical distancing and new sales channels.

5. What changes you have made to the booklet as Level 3 gets closer?

Our HQ team have been working extremely hard over the last four weeks to ensure all our brands can hit the ground running when the government announces the move back down to level 3. This has included developing home delivery and kerbside pickup options for all brands. It's important that everyone, both our customers and our staff, adhere to physical distancing guidelines and practices, therefore all our store staff have undertaken important Covid-19 e-learning training modules so everyone is prepared and knows what to do.

6. How has it been received by franchisees?

Extremely well – all our franchisees within BurgerFuel, Shake Out and Winner Winner are a great team and are eager to start serving their local community again.

Owning a business when your nation is going through a four week lockdown period can be daunting for any business owner, big or small. It's important at any time during your franchise journey to feel supported, but especially during unprecedented times like these. 

It’s something we’ve talked about in our latest blog post, which shares more about our top priorities on how we, as a Group and as friends, are helping all our franchisees get through. Read it at Franchise, the backbone support system in a crisis.

Thanks for sharing that with us, Jason – it’s a great example of how franchisees have been supported through these difficult times.

Franchisors helping franchisees – other case studies in this series

Helping franchisees #1 – Home Services

Helping franchisees #2 – Cafés & Restaurants

Helping franchisees #3 – Childcare & Education

Helping franchisees #4 – Business & Commercial

Helping franchisees #5 – the Banker’s View

Helping franchisees #6 – Home & Building

More info

Read a summary with links of where to get up-to-date and accurate information about the relief available for businesses.

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

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