Huddle House Launches Emergency Relief Plan for Franchisees
In an effort to help franchisees overcome the business challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis, Huddle House has announced a program of relief measures being temporarily offered to franchisees to support the system head-on during this crisis.
“It is unbelievable how quickly things can change. Within a matter of days, the business model that has helped sustain us in various capacities for nearly 70 years has been turned on its head,” says Michael Abt, CEO of Huddle House. “The restaurant industry, along with a few others such as airlines, hotels and walk-in retail, has been hardest hit. We have determined that when we find ways to keep operating we stand a much greater chance for success when the crisis peaks and passes. We have to talk ‘sales’ every day. My team has been incredibly creative and responsive.”
In an appeal to the system to continue to maintain a fierce will to fight and win against the current crisis, Huddle House rolled out this series of relief options as a temporary method to help restaurants facing major economic hardship.
The brand’s efforts to support franchisees has taken the form of a variety of temporary relief offerings, including: royalty and marketing fund deferrals, suspension of finance charges and fees, occupancy cost assistance, promissory note relief, deferred franchise renewal payments, freezing capital requirements and extending new store development deadlines.
In addition, Huddle House shared methods and tactics with franchisees that the brands have found effective at its company-owned restaurants. In particular, quickly pivoting to find ways to aggressively drive carry-out and delivery business; keeping restaurants operating in order to retain GMs; ramping up grass roots community and neighborhood marketing tactics; and working with landlords and vendors for accommodations on payments.
During the crisis, Huddle House is focused not only on cost savings measures but also on creative ways to drive sales for restaurants. Huddle House has implemented condensed menus for ease of execution due to limited staffing, curbside carryout delivery, family meal deals and introduced the Huddle Market in restaurants. In a matter of days, the Huddle House corporate team developed a program to sell groceries to guests, including meat, produce, cheeses, desserts, breads, cleaning supplies and of course, individual rolls of toilet paper.
“We are going through a crisis the likes of which I hope my children won’t ever have to endure as adults. None of us know what tomorrow will bring but I do know how we can face this challenge directly,” adds Abt. “Collectively, my leadership team has chosen to fight, and we want our franchisees to fight as well. We are going to fight like our lives and our businesses depend on it. We are going to fight to protect the business that we have built and fight to help protect the livelihood of our employees and our franchisees. This is our purpose during the pandemic.”
The brand is also quickly working with franchisees to support them in gaining access to funds available through the recently passed stimulus package, the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security (CARES) Act. With the goal of facilitating franchisees to gain access and quickly utilize the $2 trillion packages targeted for business owners and U.S. citizens, Huddle House bas engaged the services of employment and tax professionals to advise both brands on how to take advantage of the package to quickly get money into the hands of business owners and employees alike.