On the heels of Covid lockdowns and quarantine, we are seeing unprecedented levels of interest in business ownership with much of this interest coming through the avenue of franchising. Year-to-date, our client placements have increased well over 50% vs. 2020, which despite Covid, saw similar levels of expansion over 2019. The vast majority of these placements have come in industries outside of food and lodging, which we will touch on later.
So who are these new franchise owners? More than ever before they represent a substantial cross-section of Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. As outlined throughout media headlines, Covid has caused many across the spectrum to reflect on their current path. For many, this reflection has led to the decision point that now is the time to scratch their entrepreneurial itch.
In some cases, these newly minted business owners are jumping in with both feet, leaving their corporate roles and taking on the reins of owner-operator of a new enterprise. In other instances, they are taking a step into entrepreneurship via a ‘semi absentee’ model with the plan to put in 10-15 hours a week. The latter group is seeing business ownership as an ‘asset class. Business ownership provides tax advantages that many other investments do not. With the stock market at an all-time high, low interest rate, and only so many good real estate deals available, investors are looking at alternative options for parking their record levels of sidelined cash.
Why are so many opting for franchising over a traditional ‘start-up’? They recognize that franchising provides them with:
• A proven playbook from which to operate.
• In some cases, a recognizable brand.
• A ‘coach’ with aligned interests on the sideline in the franchisor.
• Support and learnings of owners in other markets.
• The ability to go in with ‘eyes wide open’ via the ability to review the Franchise Disclosure Document and validate with current owners before making a purchase.
• The potential for a more attractive exit based on an apples-to-apples comparison vs. traditional startups.
So, what industries are resonating the most with would-be business owners? I have shared in many interviews that over the past year that we have seen a leaning toward ‘Covid, Amazon, Recession resistant businesses’. 95% of our placements have been in industries outside of food and lodging. These include home and property services, automotive, health and wellness, businesses that support the senior population, children/education, and pets. There are so many unique niches within these spaces that people have never considered. In fact, through my matchmaking process, I have found that over 80% of my clients end up in a sector that they never had on their radar prior to our ‘peeling back the onion’ and building a framework from which to evaluate opportunities.
Certainly, franchising is not right for everyone. For instance, I have to explain to a handful of my clients that they are ‘too entrepreneurial’. They are not willing to live within the franchise system, desiring to put their fingerprints all over a new business. However, for many would-be business owners, the support and resulting success rate that is found in franchising prove to be a perfect fit. Based on what we are seeing both at a macro level, as well as on the ground, franchising is poised for even more strong growth in the years ahead!
Jon Ostenson is a consultant, investor, author, and international speaker specializing in the area of non-food franchising. He draws on his experience as both the President of an Inc. 500 franchise system and as a multi-brand franchisee in serving clients across these capacities.