As the founder of Tutu School, a dance studio business with a successful franchise model that has grown to 37 locations throughout the United States, Genevieve Weeks was in a unique position for a studio owner at the start of COVID-19. Not only did she have to make sure her own, original Tutu School locations weathered the virus' storm, she also felt a duty to guide her franchisees through the tumult.
Though she admits it was a particularly grueling experience for her at the start—her husband at one point was bringing all of her meals to her at her laptop, so she could continue working without pause—the appreciation she's felt from her franchisees is palpable. "What I've heard from the Tutu School owners is that they're grateful to be part of a franchise system right now," says Weeks.
So how does a franchise survive something like COVID-19? Here's what got Weeks—and her franchisees—through the first few months of the pandemic.
Acting on foresight.<p>"One advantage of having so many locations all over the U.S.—Seattle, the Bay Area, one opening in New York—was that we knew it was coming, maybe before other people in the country fully realized it," says Weeks. Even before any Tutu School locations were under stay-at-home orders, Weeks and her franchisees began streaming classes online, alongside in-person classes. "We streamed ongoing classes for people who didn't feel comfortable coming in to the studio," she says. "We set it up through Nest cameras, originally."</p>
Tutu School teacher Monica Frangoul with two young students, before COVID-19 moved all classes online.
Courtesy of Tutu School