While COVID-19 has had a detrimental impact on many of our personal and professional lives, it has also prompted an outpouring of creativity in the business realm as companies realized the urgent need to accelerate innovation to prevail amid the pandemic. Small businesses had to be especially savvy in order to remain profitable while prioritizing the health and wellness of customers and staff. Yet, even in the face of these obstacles, the pandemic has ushered in a new era of small business innovation.
These case study examples are both interesting and inspiring as these businesses have redefined innovation in their respective verticals, some experiencing historic, record-breaking sales:
- Tony Libardi, President & COO of Marco’s Pizza – Due to the brand’s ability to adapt, it is experiencing approximately a 20 percent increase in year-over-year systemwide sales amid the pandemic. The 950-plus unit franchise has been focused on accelerating innovation during 2020 and is currently rolling out a new podular unit model with a smaller footprint – around 850 square feet – that is focused on drive-thru and carryout service via a walk-up window in addition to delivery. Furthermore, the brand is piloting several virtual kitchen concepts across the country while also meeting with various manufactures on integrating robotics into its kitchens with the goal to automate high traffic locations for efficiency and accuracy. In this new COVID-19 world, “contact-free” is here to stay and those that are able to innovate and adapt will be the ones to succeed, which is why Marco’s is in the process of piloting, testing, and implementing several technologies including SMS, beacons and more to make contact-free delivery and curbside carryout services more automated and streamlined for the operator and the guest.
- Katherine LeBlanc, CMO at Painting with a Twist – So largely successful that it’s now a permanent program, Twist at Home was created to help studio owners bring in revenue while in-person painting classes were on hold. Customers are able to pick up or have supplies shipped directly to them so they can virtually follow along during a painting class safely at home. Painting with a Twist is the original and leading paint and sip franchise with approximately 300 studios open or in development in 39 states.
- Jeff Panella, President & CEO of Green Home Solutions – While this franchise specializes in indoor air quality, the pandemic prompted the brand to help small businesses across the country by introducing a three-tiered disinfection service. While Green Home Solutions had disinfection services on its menu previously, it was usually a rare one-off residential job. The introduction of a science-backed, three-tiered approach for small businesses was brand new. Using a fogger system and EPA registered products, Green Home Solutions was able to provide a safe, non-toxic, complete disinfection that goes above and beyond what a traditional cleaning company can provide. From piloting the model, perfecting the operations, and marketing it, Green Home Solutions saw a jump in sales and quickly helped businesses and their customers feel safe upon re-opening, at a price that’s affordable. It would cost upwards of $10K if business owners bought the equipment and did the work themselves.
- Chris McCuiston, CEO of Goldfish Swim School – During the shutdown, the brand acted swiftly to find new ways to engage and connect with its members and community while sticking true to its mission of spreading the important message of water safety. Goldfish quickly moved to introduce Goldfish At Home that both helped children learn while giving parents a tool to keep kids entertained. At-home activities, like coloring sheets and memory games, were also designed for parents to download as a resource. They were also designed to prompt important conversations around water safety as the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned of an uptick in childhood drownings due to the pandemic this summer. Providing swim lessons to infants and children ages four months to 12 years, the swim school franchise is currently reopening its 100-plus facilities across the country via its Safer. Stronger. Together. ™ initiative, but will keep activities available online for families to utilize as schools and workplaces continue move to a more virtual format.