Stories from the Front Lines: Chronic Tacos CEO Discusses Life Under Covid-19
As part of our ongoing special coverage of Covid-19 and its effects on franchising, we’re asking franchise leaders how Covid-19 is affecting their system, from the home office to franchisees to customers. We asked Michael Mohammed, CEO of Chronic Tacos, how he’s handling life under the pandemic. If you have a story to tell about what you’re doing to support your franchisees, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How has Covid-19 affected your brand?
In a number of ways, most notably in our sales. We have seen a significant decrease in in-store sales, because of the nationwide dining room shutdown. We are only able to do takeout and delivery now, which has forced us to look at our current platform and business model. This influx of off-premise ordering has allowed us to be more innovative with our menu development, adding new items, offers, and packages geared toward groups and families. Through the developments of Covid-19, we have elevated our already high standards of cleaning and sanitation levels to ensure a safe environment in each of our taco shops for our employees and customers. We have been very grateful to have a loyal customer base and be a part of the communities we are in. To show our appreciation, we have been able to provide free meals to those in need in our communities during this time. Our team has been able to bring food to hospital employees who are sacrificing so much right now.
What are you doing to help your franchisees through this?
Our first priority is to ensure that our franchisees are provided with a sense of calm and confidence as we deal with this crisis. We are providing all the up-to-date CDC protocols and operational guidelines so our franchisees can adapt to this current change in business while providing safety to their employees and customers. We are making sure each franchisee has all of the relevant information needed to apply for government stimulus funding as a part of the CARES Act. As Covid-19 has outlined the utmost importance of off-premise eating, we are ensuring that franchisees have menu options that are relevant, along with all the information and platforms in place for efficient takeout and delivery. As a franchisor, we are consistently analyzing sales and KPIs so we can provide royalty reductions accordingly.
How are you supporting your corporate employees?
We enacted a stay-at-home policy as of March 13, as the health and safety of our employees is our first priority. We are using technology to maintain a cadence of regular communication through meetings, videoconferencing, and phone calls. We are dealing with this as a crisis and have established specific roles and responsibilities as a leadership team to efficiently address issues as they arise.
How are your franchisees supporting their employees?
Each of our franchisees is prioritizing the health and safety of both employees and customers. Our protocols call for taking temperatures of employees and providing masks and proper sanitation to ensure a safe working environment. Franchisees are staying positive throughout this time and motivating their employees to do the same.
What are your franchisees doing for their customers?
The most important thing at the moment is following all social distancing protocols to ensure the safety of our customers. We have amplified all sanitation protocols to ensure this. We have also worked with our franchisees to develop limited contact pickup protocols for all online and third-party ordering. We are very proud of the way many of our franchisees have stepped up in their community to provide meals to first responders and medical workers, as well as service workers who have lost their jobs as a result of this pandemic. As a brand we are committed to giving to those in need, even as we face difficult times ourselves. We know that we are all in this together.
How are you working with your suppliers?
We are remaining in constant communication with each of our suppliers, ensuring that the supply chain is intact, and that our stores are able to receive everything they need to run their business smoothly. We are making sure our suppliers are providing updates we can share with our franchisees, and we are working with them to adjust payment terms if necessary.
How do you see the future of your brand, operations, the market, etc. post–Covid-19?
We believe through all of this, that our brand will remain strong. There will definitely be a rebuilding phase for all restaurants, along with a change in customer behavior. We will have to remain innovative, and change certain aspects of our business model to adjust to customer needs. However, we have a loyal customer base and will continue to meet their standards. We have always had a high level of health and safety procedures, and that will continue. As far as sales go, we anticipate there will be a larger percentage of off-premise sales, so we will continue to focus on takeout, delivery, and other limited contact procedures. We are humbled by the support of our customers through this time and are happy to be able to provide to those who have been affected.
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