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The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the ability for businesses to hire and retain employees. In our latest IFA webinar we connected with three of the industry's top marketing leaders to dive into how franchise marketers can best support their franchisees with employment and consumer marketing efforts.

Below are five of the top tips from the webinar on how to market through the great labor shortage, featuring Jennie Wolff, CMO of Sola Salon Studios, Shelley Kanther, VP of Marketing of Griswold Home Care, and Marianne Murphy, VP of Brand Experience at Floor Coverings International, and Maddi Park, Director of Marketing at Netsertive.

With the current labor shortage, how has this affected your brand at the franchisor and franchisee level? What trickle down effects are you seeing?

Jennie Wolff, CMO at Sola Salons: “So we have seen since March of 2020, obviously through all the salon closures, lots of traditional salons in the beauty industry that closed. So people who may not have ever thought of going independent before are now finding themselves looking for independent space, either because their salon closed and they need a place to work or be. Consumer demand has changed and people are looking for more intimate environments to get their hair done because it just feels safer. So we've seen an influx of people who may never have thought of going independent.” - 

Marianne Murphy, VP of Brand Experience at Floor Coverings International: “I think one of the things that has benefited us because we were very fortunate to not lose some people along the way, I think part of it was the flexibility that we built into the people we had on our team, whether they were contractors or other. People are able to command more. But I also think that people are rising to the level of deserving that.”

Hit hard through the pandemic, what has been your experience with the labor shortage?

Shelley Kanther, VP of Marketing at Griswold Home Care: “So when you're thinking about home care, you have to understand that our labor force, our caregivers and no time in recent history of caregiver been more important than now and that we've really put a spotlight on their importance throughout this pandemic. So our marketing really had to shift in focus, whereas we always did have a focus on caregiver recruitment and retention. It became a huge part of what we were trying to market for is to recruit those caregivers, to be in the homes with elderly who need that help on a day to day basis.”

What are some ways that you built the culture? Ideally, your culture can be awesome if you're bringing on the correct people. Right now, we can't afford to be super picky with how we're bringing on. So how can we sort out culture that way, or at least continue to emanate it with a broader range of personalities and people? 

Marianne Murphy, VP of Brand Experience at Floor Coverings International: “I think that we can be picky and I think we always need to be picky because it's a direct reflection of what we're putting out in the universe. So I grabbed what I could, but now it's created a chain of mess that then has to be cleaned up because then you lose credibility. So I think to a certain extent, you can be picky.” 

Shelley Kanther, VP of Marketing at Griswold Home Care: “Caregiver recruitment and retention has been a focus for us for a long time, but it is truly a big initiative for us now. So our marketing really had to shift in focus, whereas we always did have a focus on caregiver recruitment and retention, it became a huge part of what we were trying to market for is to recruit those caregivers, to be in the homes with the elderly who need that help on a day to day basis. And as we saw the facilities like nursing homes and senior living facilities getting hit very, very hard by the pandemic, people were actually turning to home care more because you were having that one dedicated person or just a few dedicated people coming to take care of that loved one and was therefore safer.”

How do you keep growing, especially for four brands that are having to turn down new business due to labor shortages? What are some ways that they continue to get their name out there, despite the fact that they might not be able to bring on new clients?

Jennie Wolff, CMO at Sola Salons: “My input on this kind of question is to continue growing in different ways to get creative and looking at the other way to grow your business because it's not just always about new clients, it's about servicing the clients that you already have and raising your prices if that's an option for you.”

Marianne Murphy, VP of Brand Experience at Floor Coverings International: “We work with our vendors who have been exceptional in keeping us abreast of those products that are readily available and making sure we pipe that down through our system. So it's almost a marketing to our own system on what's available. Certainly, we don't stop with the marketing. I think keeping your reputation intact, as we talked about that, giving people a reason to wait for you when they can and then making sure that people who need to move quickly, that you are prepared with what it is that you can do to help them in that situation, you know, as far as what products are available, giving them those options, etc.”

How can you be proactive? How can we weave labor shortages or these setbacks with employees? How can we weave this into our planning and brand building for the foreseeable future? How are we going to coach, how are we going to run businesses and have to assume that this is an obstacle we are going to see in the next year to a couple of years in the future?

Shelley Kanther, VP of Marketing at Griswold Home Care: “People have reflected on their lives throughout this pandemic. They want more out of their lives. They want to do something either meaningful or earn more so they can do more things that they want to do in their time outside of work. And so they want a living wage. They want benefits, they want Work-Life Balance, they want the companies that make the investment into their workforce. I believe in these hard times, but also when things start to get better, you'll be more successful in the long term. So we're working hard to do all of those things.”

Marianne Murphy, VP of Brand Experience at Floor Coverings International: “Investing in and elevating your people second is investing in your marketing programs. Take a good inventory. You don't want to cut back, but you want to make sure that you invest in the things that are working.”

Jennie Wolff, CMO at Sola Salons: “They have to feel passionate about it. They have to feel ownership. Empowerment is really big for us. I want to empower them to really care and to really feel ownership in their work and especially with a younger generation. Younger generations, especially after coming through COVID, they expect work life balance and we really don't even call it balance. We call it rhythm. We have implemented a 9-80 work policy, which gives everyone on the team that wants to do longer nine hour work days every other Friday off.”

Overall Takeaways:

Take things internally

Maddi Park, Director of Marketing at Netsertive: “Sometimes you got to take things internal if you can't afford or you're struggling to find, you know, for instance, what Jenny said, graphic designers, you have to take those those in-house.”

Keep your culture

Maddi Park, Director of Marketing at Netsertive: “Your culture is important, even if that means turning down new business or having to shrink. Keep the right people on. Protect your brand. And to her point, people want to do good work. There are people out there that want to work and that can still benefit your brand.”

Have a campaign focused around employees and retention

Maddi Park, Director of Marketing at Netsertive: “I think employee recruitment and retention as its own kind of vertical probably never got as much attention as Fran Dev or consumer marketing goes. But now it's time for it to take the limelight and really focusing on that both internal and externally in your brands and finding creative solutions around that. Don't be afraid to get creative with it.”


For more information on marketing through a labor shortage, watch the full IFA webinar here: Marketing a Franchise Brand Through the Labor Shortage in 2022

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