Business Development Manager
With the challenging 18 months, we have all experienced many being in high demand as key workers, others losing jobs, businesses, and many parents working full time to save their businesses, alongside home-schooling their children.
If you ever asked me 12 years ago when I had just had my firstborn, ‘Could you ever teach your own children and work full time?’ my answer would have been NO!
27th March 2020, the announcement was made, we were going into ‘National Lockdown’. Children were being sent home with bags full of school work, businesses were closing their doors, no more socialising with family and friends, and travel had STOPPED!
Where do I start with three children to educate and over twenty franchisees who need full support, dealing with customers, cancellations, refunds and also keeping them positive and motivated.
That weekend, I made a plan. We scheduled a full-time table for the children and their school work that needed to be completed for their first week. The children and I made a traffic light reward chart. We planned break time snacks and packed lunches.
As Monday approached, my anxiety levels were high. I was waking in the night thinking, how will I do this? How will I cope? and also be able to give the best level of service in my relatively new job role at The Holiday Franchise Company.
Monday came, the children were golden and completed all the work they needed to do without any arguments. This enabled me to dedicate my time and support to our franchisees. I worked through every single booking that had been affected, liaised with all franchisees to check in on them and update them with all the different information we were receiving throughout the day.
The first week complete, the children were happy, the children were educated (well, mommy educated) Franchisees all knew what bookings needed actioning, they all received updates and we worked on Covid 19 manuals to send out to the franchisees.
My next step was ‘How can I keep the Franchisees positive and motivated?’
The head office team worked through a brainstorm of ideas. We posted on our forum, we gave shout outs for rebooks, we proposed forward planning marketing ideas, we held Zoom meetings, we conducted a quiz evening, and then we reached out to our suppliers to support us. After several calls, emails and researching to gain numbers for the right people, we successfully held our very first virtual supplier training session!
The more we reached out, the more support we were receiving back, the sessions were popular with our franchisees. The feedback we received was fantastic. The franchisees were finding it so beneficial, enhancing their existing product knowledge, learning new products and skills, becoming more confident, building new relationships and more notably becoming excited for when the travel world re-opens.
We reached a point during lockdown to save our business and our industry. Furlough was proposed! I spent three months on furlough. This helped me concentrate on the children as this was becoming a challenge. I felt satisfied leaving the franchisees knowing what they needed to focus on while they paused their businesses and sat patiently waiting for the travel world to open.
Each day was a new challenge, the children were getting increasingly bored of each other company, upset they could not see their family and friends, schoolwork became long, walks and bike rides were becoming a chore to them, baking cakes were no longer an incentive, why daddy could go away and work, and they couldn’t do anything, trying to make them understand what was going on in our world.
I put my thinking cap on and brainstormed new motivational ideas, we painted stones, we chalked the drive, we rode our bikes to Birmingham City Centre, and we had picnics. We made lockdown canvases. We grew flowers, we cooked, we played board games, they learnt how to play Kirby, we sorted through the clutter in the house, we looked at old photos, we were silly, we made school work more fun I was no longer Mommy I was Mrs M during school working hours.
I returned back to my Business Development Executive role in the summer on Flexi part-time, returning to the franchisees growing, Luke had been holding the fort and we had six new franchisees who had come on board, come September I knew I needed to support and dedicate my time to our existing and new franchisees, so I returned full time, knowing the children were returning back to school made everything so much easier.
I spent a vast majority of time catching up on updates, communicating this out, studying the FCDO, catching up with the franchisees, meeting new franchisees, connecting with suppliers, arranging the supplier virtual training sessions, and taking a huge focus on travel bookings for the following year.
Just over a year now, The Holiday Franchise Company has grown. We now have over thirty franchises. We now have a Marketing Manager Jordan, a Business Training Executive Chris, and we are currently recruiting to add extra support to our team.
Our Franchisees have had a wonderfully positive outlook and have banked plenty of bookings for 2022 and 2023. We now wait for the traffic light to change to green and watch the franchisees reach their goals. We have conducted over 65 training webinars, including reaching out to suppliers, airlines, hoteliers, tourist boards and airports and while we challenged this storm, balanced home life and work life, all three of my children have had glowing school reports resulting in them moving up into higher sets, Mommy, Mrs M and Jenna all rolled into one, I remained positive.
I ensured I spoke to people when I did have a low day to keep my mental health intact and kept positive, focussed, motivated and now we are near the end, we are only moving one way and that is UP!
So, after all the worry, the things that made it possible for me (and Mommy & Mrs M) to make it through were:
Planning – Planning allowed me to add structure
Structure – Structure ensured everyone around me knew what was happening and when
Mindset – having the proper structure improved my mindset and made me see this WAS possible.
Drive – Knowing I could do it allowed me to push harder than ever to support my family, colleagues, and franchisees.