Any restaurateur knows that adapting to the unexpected is a must. When COVID-19 impacted the restaurant industry fast and deep in 2020, many franchise operators were thrown for a loop and had to acclimate to the changing climate quickly. Fortunately, government relief funds and a new sense of hope and innovation supported the industry’s revitalization and helped Melting Pot franchise operators come out on top.
The Effects of COVID-19 on the Restaurant Industry
In early March 2020, the World Health Organization put in place a series of protocols to slow the spread of the virus that included lockdowns and quarantines. These implemented actions accelerated change, transformed hospitality, and devastated many parts of the restaurant industry.
An analysis by MarginEdge, a back-office platform that examines sales and operational data from nearly 2000 restaurants in 47 states, estimated a drop in sales of 66% when most of the nation was under strict lockdown. As we saw a significant decline in revenue due to the changes we were required to implement to stop the spread of COVID-19, Melting Pot—like many franchise restaurants—had to figure out how to continue satisfying customers in order to increase sales again.
Innovation for Melting Pot Amid the Pandemic
Bob Johnston, CEO of Front Burner Brands, the restaurant management company for Melting Pot, said, “Before the pandemic, Melting Pot never had a to-go program, but like the others, we knew it’d
be something to implement to overcome restrictions on dining in.”
Application of to-go and delivery programs helped make up a small percentage of our sales, as customers still wanted to experience our food, but more safely. The pandemic has been integral in showing us and our franchise operators the importance of innovating and opening up safer alternatives for customers to continue enjoying Melting Pot.
To further increase sales and scale down many operations to reduce costs, franchise operators streamlined menus and helped deploy other improvements in 2020.
“Melting Pot, in collaboration with our franchisees and an outside consultancy, launched a newly engineered menu that has performed amazingly, increasing our per
person average sales and guest satisfaction,” Bob said.
Relief for the Restaurant Industry
While Melting Pot assessed ways to save costs and assist franchisees independently, the Biden administration passed a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund as part of the American Rescue Plan Act to help restaurants across the country.
Before this, many companies relied on Paycheck Protection Program funds that were open to large restaurant companies. This latest revitalization fund created a new federal program for restaurant owners with 20 or fewer locations, and franchise operators could apply for tax-free grants of up to $5 million per location or up to $10 million for multiple location operations.
Funds from these grants were available to be spent on various expenses, including mortgages or rent, utilities, supplies, food and beverage inventory, payroll, and operational costs. These grants also offered much relief for many companies in the industry. Still, it’s been the strength and flexibility of our franchisees that have helped Melting Pot meet and exceed expectations despite the pandemic.
The Resiliency of Our Franchise Owners
With a start to a new year and many challenges to overcome during year two of COVID-19, operators have learned how resilient and strong franchise owners and their staff are. Melting Pot has made the most of an unpredictable situation that’s seen the closure of as many as 110,000 restaurants, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Fortunately, the accelerated vaccine deployment and additional fiscal stimulus raised expectations that the economy will produce the most substantial growth in decades. However, the changes in our restaurant menu and décor and other guest-focused initiatives have manifested creativity in ways we’ve never seen and will help sustain Melting Pot for decades to come.
For more information on how you can take advantage of this fondue restaurant franchise opportunity and join our strong franchise network, call (844) 334-2601.