I recently had the pleasure of interviewing two executives of an amazing franchise group out of Florida that banded together to bring aid and relief to hurricane victims in their communities and elsewhere.
Anago Cleaning Systems is a franchise organization based in Ft. Lauderdale that currently has over 1,400 units in the United States and Canada.
I spoke to Adam Povlitz, who is the president of the company. He gave me a brief history of the company that was founded by his father Dave Povlitz in 1989 in Michigan. He explained that the name Anago is a Greek word that means to guide or uplift, or blessed by god, according to his grandmother.
I quickly learned that they live up to their name.
Adam Povlitz introduced me to his right-hand man, Juan Contoni, and they shared their story. Contoni is the company’s vice president of operations and also owns and operates the South Florida master franchise, which oversees more than 200 franchisees. When they received the news of the inbound hurricane, they put their heads together to devise a way to mobilize their franchise network to help their communities.
They came up with this plan:
- Before the event, send out an email with preparation tips and a list of resources that can help the franchisee in case of emergency.
- Host an educational meeting for the staff to understand options during the storm and where to seek shelter if need be and where to find the office operations, post-event.
- Be sure to have a strong communication plan in place in case of loss of transportation or power.
- Franchisor reaches out to all the franchisees to show their concern and ask if there is anything they can do to help.
- Send containers of water, clothes, food or anything else the franchisee may need after the event.
- Encourage neighboring Franchise Owners who may not have been affected to go out and assist their fellow franchisees.
- After the event, (as the franchisor), personally make a point to go out and physically help Franchise Owners who are in need, by cleaning up debris, etc.
- Send a handwritten note to show concern during the recovery process.
- Go help local franchisees clean up their office and homes after the event.
- Send an email on behalf of the franchisee to all of the franchisee’s clients and explain their situation and offer any support during their recovery process.
- Make sure to keep your business’s and family’s most important documents in a safe place and encourage your staff to do the same.
- Create a business inventory at least 72 hours prior to event.
- Disasters are incredibly complicated situations that require people with a very high degree of qualifications and long-term commitment, not just good will, a sense of urgency and short-term availability. So sending a handbook about practical disaster preparedness to the franchisees to attack any circumstance during and after a disaster is helpful and gives them a sense of power.
- Consider temporary relocation for your staff members and franchisees if needed.
- Have sufficient supplies stocked for you and the people you are planning to help after a disaster.
- Be calm, patient and hopeful.
Swing into action.
Once the storm hit, the team was already in action with an assigned point of contact in each market, supplies and hands-on assistance for people in their affected towns and neighborhoods, even finding temporary housing for a customer that lost the roof of their home in the storm. They also helped their commercial clients that needed to get cleaned up and open for business again.
They also decided that they would use their network and newfound disaster relief skills to send aid to Puerto Rico! They recruited a boat and crew and sent over 264,000 gallons of fresh water and other supplies.
The Anago story is a great example of how a franchise community, working together, can make a huge difference.
Franchise organizations have a natural network of people and other resources, like equipment, communication systems and expertise. These networks can be mobilized in times of crisis. If you are a franchisor, you can implement similar strategies to have a real impact on your communities.