man delivering food on bicycle
From restaurants that offer food delivery to tutoring services for kids, several businesses are experiencing a surge in growth from the new demands stemming from COVID-19. — Getty Images/South_agency

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge businesses in all sorts of new ways, some have been able to do exceptionally well considering the circumstances. Whether these companies sell products that are well-suited to this new environment or have adapted with a new business model, each business has its own method.

Success stories during COVID-19 have not been limited to clever small businesses or large corporations, with many franchise-style businesses also figuring out how to keep customers coming back for more. Here are eight companies with a franchising model that have seen success during the pandemic.

7-Eleven

The convenience store chain 7-Eleven, which has been built on a franchise model that now includes more than 71,100 stores worldwide, adapted quickly to COVID-19 and said it would hire extensively. The chain invested heavily in safety and hygiene from the outset of the pandemic to keep customers and employees safer. It also partnered with third-party delivery services to make sure its products could get delivered to people sheltering in place or social distancing. The company’s 2020 has gone so well that it paid $21 billion in cash to buy the Speedway chain of gas stations.

Ace Hardware

With many people spending more time at home during the pandemic, hardware stores have surged in interest as people work on long-standing projects around their houses and apartments. Ace Hardware, which has more than 5,000 stores around the world, followed that trend and saw its business increase this year while many other types of businesses have been hurting. The company reported record first-quarter 2020 revenues of $1.4 billion, an increase of about 4% versus the first quarter of 2019.

Domino’s

As the pandemic changed how consumers interact with restaurants, delivery-focused pizza chains have proven to be resilient. Domino’s, long a serious innovator in its space, has met this moment well with reliable and fast pizza delivery from more than 15,000 locations that didn’t require major changes, except the addition of contactless delivery. Its reward? The chain’s U.S. same-store sales increased 16% in its latest quarter, and it has had 37 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth.

With COVID-19 pushing more businesses to step up safety, one side effect has been the addition of much new signage for social distancing, hand washing, mask-wearing and adjusted business hours.

FASTSIGNS

With COVID-19 pushing more businesses to step up safety, one side effect has been the addition of much new signage for social distancing, hand washing, mask-wearing and adjusted business hours. FASTSIGNS, which has more than 700 locations that can print signs and other business collateral, has seen booming demand. “We’ve noticed a big uptick in decals, people wanting to put it right on their doors, right on their windows [to] let people know before they come in, ‘Hey, if you forgot your mask, please go and get it,’” Sadiya Ahmed of FASTSIGNS in Huntsville, Ala. told WZDX. "As the rules change, people need to update the public. And they do that with signs.”

Mathnasium

As COVID-19 forced many schools around the country to close and go online-only, parents have been concerned about their children falling behind. One way to help students is through private tutoring. Mathnasium, a learning company with more than 1,000 franchises, has seen more demand during the pandemic than before at many of its locations. Karen Lossing of Mathnasium in San Diego told NBC 7 that demand for in-person and online tutoring had increased. “There are studies every year that track summer learning loss in just summer break, and now they have what they call the COVID slide," Lossing said. “Especially now since plans are in place, as far as how schools are going to be handled, parents are taking a little bit more ownership of 'How I am going to help my kid?'”

Popeyes

Many fast-food restaurants have had sales taken away by COVID-19 with some consumers shifting to eat more meals at home. However, fried chicken chain Popeyes has continued to grow sales even during the pandemic in part to its incredibly popular chicken sandwich, which took the fast-food world by storm in 2019. In its latest quarter, same-store sales at its more than 3,000 locations increased by about 25%.

Servpro

Demand for cleaning services has increased dramatically during the pandemic. Servpro, one of the largest franchisers of cleaning and restoration services in the U.S., has seen more interest during this time as well. As the severity of the pandemic made itself clear, the company has rolled out targeted services to help businesses and homes stamp out coronavirus. The company expects to earn as much as $300 million in sales from coronavirus-related cleaning services in 2020.

Wingstop

Wingstop, a fast-food player with about 1,400 locations in the U.S., surprised many business watchers when it announced that its most recent quarter was its best since 2015. The company has focused strongly on improving online ordering and delivery, which has helped push its same-store sales up 28% year over year. Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison said on the company’s latest earnings call that what had boosted business, even during the pandemic, was its “focus on quality and the authenticity of our product” with cooked-to-order wings.

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Published August 13, 2020