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Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Q&A with Multi-Brand Franchisee Lee Kleiner

Franchising.com
May 19 · 3 min read
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As part of our ongoing coverage of Covid-19 and its effects on franchising, we’re asking franchisees what they’re doing to get through the crisis and come out the other side. If you’re a franchisee with a story to tell about what you’re doing to survive, help your employees, or inspire hope in other operators, please email us at stories@franchising.com.

Lee Kleiner has spent two decades in the franchise business with well-established brands including Dairy Queen, Which Wich, and now Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh. When we profiled him earlier this year, he was expecting a banner year. Now, like so many franchisees, he’s having to adjust and adapt. He took time out to share how the pandemic has affected his business.

How has Covid-19 affected your business?

As the owner of multiple Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh locations, we’ve had to adjust how we do business. The first step was to look at where we were spending our time and effort. After evaluating where things stood, we realized that we needed to restructure where and how we were investing our time. A lot of it has been on the fly, but we’ve adapted to the changes as needed. The nature of the business has changed from in-person dining to only delivery and curbside pickup.

What are you doing right now to get through this?

Our first step was adapting our restaurants to new systems and processes to protect our customers and employees. We implemented new safety measures for handling cash, cleaning practices, and how we interact with our customers. Once we ensured that we had the right safety measures in place, we began working on securing PPP funding to help our employees get back to work. Then we looked at how we were using our marketing efforts and made adjustments to focus on online ordering. Before Covid-19, third-party delivery was often considered to be excess baggage, something you could get by with or without. Now, it has quickly become the thing that is keeping people’s heads above water. As we were analyzing how we do business, our priority was our customers and staff. We have been in constant contact with our staff to keep them up to date on all that we are doing.

Is your franchisor helping keep you afloat?

The Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh team has done a great job of providing information, sharing where to go and how to get support. This has been a huge help, and our local team has worked to use all of the assets where we can. Whether it’s lending an ear to our stresses and concerns or just checking in every other week, the franchisor is truly showing that they care for us — it’s an all-in mentality.

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