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last updated 14/05/2020

Helping franchisees #9 – taking social responsibility

last updated 14/05/2020

With all sorts of businesses facing unprecedented times, how are big franchisors helping both their franchisees and the wider community? We talk to one of New Zealand’s best-known brands (and least-known franchisors), Anchor

Franchising covers all sorts of industries and includes companies big and small. In New Zealand, businesses don’t come much bigger than Fonterra, but a lot of people don’t realise that the distribution of the company’s products to local schools, dairies, service stations and retailers is carried out by a national network of around 50 Anchor franchisees who operate fleets of trucks in their own regions. We asked Shannon Davidson, Anchor’s National Franchise Manager, what the company had done to help its franchisees through lockdown.

1. Shannon, the dairy sector is so important to New Zealand – presumably that meant that your franchisees were in a different position to those in many industries?

Yes, the nature of our products means that our Anchor franchisees are classed as essential service providers and as such have been able to operate delivering to customers including superettes and supermarkets throughout Level 4.

Despite that, Anchor franchisees (along with many other New Zealand businesses) have certainly been doing it tough throughout lockdown, which has in turn affected their overall turnover. 

2. How are you supporting the financial well-being of your franchisees through this period? 

We’ve provided our franchise network with support across a broad range of areas. On the financial side:

  • Managing cashflow liquidity through robust plans and providing direction on areas to improve their financial position;
  • COVID cash support payment to all franchisees;
  • Extended terms of trade with franchisees to assist with cashflow;
  • Providing pricing support to our franchisees;
  • Funded stock write downs from our franchisees;
  • Providing promotional stock to our franchisees’ reseller customers.

In addition to the financial support we also focussed heavily on health, safety and wellbeing, including providing free personal protective equipment (PPE) to all franchisees and their teams.

3. As one of New Zealand’s best-known brands, and being part of Fonterra, Anchor is also a key part of the community for many people. That sets up expectations during a time of crisis. How did you respond?

  • We developed a donations scheme so franchisees could donate product (funded by Fonterra) to people in their communities;
  • As we moved to Level 3, we gave our franchisees’ café customers over 100,000 litres of free milk to help them restart;
  • We provided Protein Plus beverages to COVID testing stations for staff and to St Johns across the Auckland Region;
  • Nationally, The Salvation Army, Whānau Ora, KiwiHarvest and Eat My Lunch helped us deliver nearly 1 million serves of Anchor milk to children and families in need.

4. How have you supported the personal well-being of your franchisees and your team? 

We communicate on a daily basis to provide relevant, meaningful information to help franchises navigate the Covid-19 situation.

  • There are regular Skype conference calls with all franchisees, and separate regional calls;
  • We offered our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) Services support – free and confidential sessions with a coach or counsellor;
  • Our Regional Sales Teams have regular check-ins with every franchisee.
  • All of our head office teams are set up to work from home, and we have technology platforms in place to operate virtual meetings;
  • Our head office teams all connect regularly with each other to ensure we’re all doing ok.

5. How has all this been received?

We are privileged to be in an industry that is deemed essential and the products we sell are providing an excellent source of dairy nutrition to New Zealanders.

I’m proud of the support we have been able to provide our franchisees during this unprecedented situation. Our franchisees have been very grateful for the support we have been able to provide as a franchise network within the Fonterra family.

Shannon, thanks for sharing some of what you’ve been doing. Every industry is different, of course, and it’s good to see that even the biggest companies are taking care of their individual franchisees.

Read more case studies and find sources for different types of support available here.

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