It’s no secret that running a business is hard work. Even in the best economic environment, it still takes dedication in planning, efficiency, and often a major investment in time and money just to get your business up and running. Unfortunately, the economy is naturally cyclical. Over the long haul, there will be good times and bad.

In the past dozen years, we’ve seen two major recessions toss the business world upside down. The 2008-09 crisis caused 170,000 small businesses to close in just two years. Though things eventually turned around, the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses into another critical moment. While the outlook is certainly turning for the better, these times are great reminders of the importance of building businesses that do well in a recession.

There are plenty of businesses that have maintained their success and have even thrived in some cases.

Is Your Business Set Up for Success?

That question can be answered from several different angles – the first focusing on the business model itself. Efficiency is always important in a business, but it is never at a higher premium than in a recession, the times when businesses need to emphasize a lean and nimble business model. One that has a relatively low overhead, whether from a small staff or inventory, is better able to withstand possible fluctuations in revenue. One that is adaptable to meet changing consumer demands will also be more likely to survive the hard times. In the case of the past year, for example, we at Wild Birds Unlimited shifted operations to accommodate the needs for more curbside pickup and e-commerce options and developed an array of new marketing vehicles to communicate these changes to our customer base and to share the joy of the bird feeding hobby as so many were staying at home.

Those were only some of the accommodations made to guide Wild Birds Unlimited stores nationwide, while embracing another factor that is key for businesses that do well in a recession – innovation.

Can Your Business Innovate?

Few situations force businesses to rethink their products or services more than an economic crisis. But the businesses that thrive are able to find innovative ways to reach their customer base. Wild Birds Unlimited maintained its steady success by expanding its product offerings with new Share The Joy! Boxes and continuing its commitment to service and community building through online live streams and the launch of a new podcast, earning a Franchise Innovation Award from Franchise Update Media for its efforts.

Customer Service is Key

Ultimately, the most important factor in making your business recession-proof is the commitment to providing a true value to the consumer – no matter what that value may be. In the case of the pandemic, Americans were confined to their homes more than ever before. But despite the change in their spending habits, they were still interested in exploring or expanding their hobbies such as bird feeding. The combination of increased interest with the preparation from Wild Birds Unlimited to meet that moment allowed its franchises around the nation to succeed through an otherwise challenging situation.

Many of those qualities come from the advantages franchising offers in general, both in good times and in bad. No matter the economic outlook, the best franchises combine proven systems from the franchisor that allow the hard work of franchisees to truly shine. That teamwork is even more important in a recession and is essential when that recession is the result of a massive shift in consumer behaviors, such as the halt in foot traffic from public health guidelines.

The Wild Birds Unlimited Franchise Support Center was able to streamline its communications process, guide franchisees through financial relief programs, and provide new product offerings and marketing materials – all in the commitment to help locations around the nation maintain their franchise profit through unprecedented times.

Thankfully, the future is looking brighter for retail franchises than it was in the spring of 2020. Learn more about how Wild Birds Unlimited plans to build on its successes in both the past and present to create a stronger future for everyone who helps the franchise fly.