Global Business Development

Our World’s Update – Monday, March 30th, 2020

We are monitoring 22 countries, 25 daily international information sources and six business sectors to keep up with what is going on in this ever-changing environment. Based on decades of international business experience, we believe it is critical to remember two famous British sayings:

“Keep Calm and Carry On”

“Keep Calm and Breathe Deeply”

A month ago, I gave a talk to a local California business group on what life was like in a locked down China. I sited the quarantine at home for over 40 days of our Beijing based managing director and his family. His 8-year-old daughter was kept inside for these 40+ days and was going to her international school online.

This event has changed how Chinese view working from home, as they did not see this as viable before. The result of millions going to offices, is a huge number of high-rise office buildings in big cities. However, now remote work is looking good. My daughter in Cincinnati has been trying to get her company to let her work from home for years. As of today, she has been told it is mandatory to work from home through April.

By the way, our Beijing managing director’s daughter will be back at school with her friends in April. Meanwhile, my 9-year-old granddaughter in Cincinnati is just beginning her own online education from her home.

Never have we seen a disruption like the one caused by Coronavirus in our history. As of this today, “OpenTable bookings at restaurants worldwide are down by over 80% from a month ago. Retail footfall is down 50-80%, depending on the country”, Financial Times, March 22, 2020. Other franchises where customers gather like gyms are 60-100% shut down. Burger King, Dairy Queen, KFC, McDonalds and Starbucks closed over 7,500 restaurants in China last month. Today. 90% of these restaurants are back open.

Our U.S. restaurant clients have closed almost all their units worldwide – expect for China and Korea soon as well. Our clients are almost all going to remote working, clearing out their large offices around the U.S. They have also put into place a no ‘over water’ travel policy for the next three months. We are lucky that our company has been virtual for years. Not just the six of us in the U.S. working remotely, but also the 30+ members of our team on the ground around the world.

One of the groups we are working with to become the Italy licensee for one of our U.S. restaurant brand clients, owns and operates almost 100 restaurants in Northern Italy. They are 100% shutdown with hundreds of employees impacted.

As a Diamond Medallion frequent flyer with 2.5 million miles on Delta, it was interesting to read that Delta Air Lines will emerge as a “smaller” carrier, following the Coronavirus crisis, warns chief financial officer Paul Jacobson, as the airline prepares to wind down the majority of its schedule by April. “We’re going to be smaller coming out of this,” he told employees during an internal webinar last week.

Rod Young, global chairman of Cartridge World and chairman of Sydney-based DC Strategy Group, said “the wild card in looking forward for the Asia Pacific region is the Coronavirus pandemic and this is written in the expectation that the response by China and the rest of the world will see the community and the economy recover some normality after a significant impact on global growth and consumer habits.”

Our company’s associate for Southeast Asia, Sean Ngo, CEO and co-founder of VF Franchise Consulting, Ho Chi Minh City, says “people in Asia took the Coronavirus issue much more seriously earlier than in the West, because of their SARs experience in 2003 and the region is expected to gradually recover in the next – three to six months. Countries in Southeast Asia closed all international flights, while only allowing for domestic travel. The main concern in countries like Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines is about the virus sneaking back into these countries from international visitors.”

An AmCham China webinar from Beijing late last week had the top China-based executives of four international companies explaining how they handled the coronavirus shutdown starting in late February. They said their order of priorities were: (1) their people; (2) their internal business; (3) their suppliers; and (4) their relationships with government regulators. Wisdom for us all in these times.

This immense disruption has slowed down new business development around the world. But it is also causing companies to evaluate their businesses, in order to fine tune operations and systems and better prepare for a brighter and stronger future.

Contact me directly at bedwards@edwardsglobal.com to learn how to protect and grow your brand in the current business climate.


Working with US Commercial Service (USCS) to Succeed in Taking Your US Franchise into New Countries

According to an International Franchise Association (IFA) early 2014 survey of its franchisor members, 82% now think that taking their franchise international is important to the future success of their franchise. Five years ago, 54% thought going international was important.

Based on 25 years of international franchise experience as a franchisor, master franchisee and, most recently helping over 20 US franchisors go international, I know the most difficult task is finding the right country and the right licensee for your particular franchise.

One solution for US franchises can be working with the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS), the international-focused arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The USCS has experts on the ground in over 100 countries whose job is to help US companies sell their products and services.

There are several ways the USCS can help a franchisor go global:

  • Country and Sector Reports
  • Gold Keys – in-country meetings with pre-qualified licensee candidates
  • Franchise Trade Missions – to the Philippines, Mexico and India in 2014
  • Background checks on licensee candidates
  • Meeting arrangements and local advertising
  • Local business and cultural knowledge
  • Follow-up after your in-country meetings

But this is not magic where you get on the airplane, land in the new country, meet your new licensee, sign an agreement, get back on the plane for home, and the new licensee sends you the initial license fee. To have a chance at success using the USCS team in any particular country, the franchisor must know and clearly communicate the following:

  • Why do you want to enter this particular country?
  • What is the profile of whom you want as a licensee?
  • How is your brand different than what is already in their country?
  • Detailed, clear information on your franchise
  • Clear steps and terms for acquiring your franchise
  • A financial model that shows how your franchise will succeed in their country
  • What training, support and marketing help your franchise will give the licensee

And the franchisor needs to clearly define what they want in an international licensee or master franchisee in a country, such as:

  • A passion for and understanding of your business
  • A successful business with knowledge in your sector
  • Good reputation in the country
  • Experienced management to put into your franchise
  • Access to suitable real estate
  • Marketing oriented company
  • The capital to start and grow your franchise in their country

Our company, EGS, has successfully worked with the USCS in over 20 countries around the world since 2001. Here are a few of the successes we have had in recent years working with the USCS:

  • Central America – Fuddruckers®
  • Chile – Denny’s® and Fuddruckers®
  • China – Right At Home Senior Care® and Rita’s Italian Ice®
  • Dominican Republic – Denny’s®
  • Indonesia – The Melting Pot®
  • Ireland – Mr. Handyman® and Two Men And A Truck®
  • Mexico – Build-A-Bear Workshop®, Denny’s® and The Melting Pot®
  • Mongolia – Round Table Pizza®
  • Singapore and Malaysia – Abrakadoodle®
  • Viet Nam – Carl’s Jr.®

Not all USCS posts in all countries are able to help find area licensees and master franchisees. To find out whether the local office has a specialist for franchising, go to the following website for specific countries: www.export.gov/country

Or you can contact Ms. Jennifer Loffredo, the U.S. Commercial Service Officer based in the US who manages the USCS Global Franchise Team: (248)452-2254, Jennifer.Loffredo@trade.gov

A close working relationship with the USCS people on the ground in the country, plus patience in finding and signing the right licensee for your specific franchise, are critical to success in using this valuable resource for US franchisors. At the end of the day, you have to help the USCS post help you find your licensee in a country.


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