Buying a Franchise

How Do Franchises Handle Holidays?

IMG_1572Retailers have been getting some media heat for opening on Thanksgiving this year, but restaurants have been staying open on holidays for years. What’s the policy for the franchises you’re considering?

Single people and couples may balk at going through the whole turkey and pie routine that large families go through on Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. More than 15 million Americans eat Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant.

Are people going to grab a burger or a pizza on Turkey Day, though? While Buzzfeed offered a tongue in cheek set of instructions for preparing a Thanksgiving feast from fast food, it’s not the traditional Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving experience. However, there are people who don’t enjoy the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving experience, people who would rather ignore it than try to recreate it for themselves when their life just isn’t going that direction, and people who had all the turkey they want for one day at 1:00 and are ready for a change.

This can be even more true now that stores open for Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Mom is hardly going to head home from that exhausting experience and whip up Turkey Tetrazzini, is she?

Christmas and New Year’s may offer even more opportunity for quick-service restaurants. Families increasingly head out to the movies or to redeem their gift cards on holidays, and fast food fits perfectly into that kind of experience.

What’s more, online shopping is helping to erase the concept of shopping days and shopping seasons, while encouraging an attitude that expects consumer goods in general to be available at all times.

This year, Christmas Creep brought holiday merchandise into stores before Halloween and extended Black Friday from a single day to weeks of online deals and in-store promotions. Distinguishing holidays by closing a business and giving all the workers a day off may be less common now than for years past.

McDonald’s asked franchisees to stay open on Christmas day a couple of years ago after seeing big sales on Thanksgiving day. They explained that while decisions about hours, staffing, and pay are made by franchisees at the local level, their corporate-owned stores didn’t pay overtime, and made working on the holiday voluntary. If this is the expectation for the franchise you’re considering, franchisees should expect to be working those holidays themselves.

Workers may choose to sign up for holidays, especially if franchisees choose to offer a holiday wage differential. And most workers know that “voluntary” can be a matter of opinion. Franchisees may also feel pressure from corporate to open on holidays if other stores are doing so. They may even face the loss of their franchises if they won’t.

Sears, for example, insists that franchises start their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving with evening hours. The corporate office sent out a statement last year when some franchisees rebelled, saying that the holiday hours are what customers want.

There are some franchises that make it a policy not to open on holidays. This might be the best choice for franchisees who feel strongly about taking holidays off. Decide how much it matters to you and ask about the policy before making a commitment.

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