(10 of) 21 Franchising Predictions for 2021
As the U.S. enters what appears to be another surge (thank you anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers), we’re reentering territory we thought we’d left behind. So in this déjà vu all over again world economy, we found it interesting to review a series of predictions from franchise leaders that Franchise Business Review posted in the first week of 2021. We’ve selected 10. For the full 21, read the original article on FBR’s website.
2020 was one for the books, to say the least. Franchising faced challenges we never could have imagined this time last year, and while some businesses shut down completely or operated at reduced capacity, others were able to survive or even thrive. Either way, there were valuable lessons learned and, we hope, a renewed sense of purpose and optimism as we kick off 2021.
What does the future hold for franchising? We asked some of the thought leaders in franchising to look into their crystal balls and reveal their predictions for 2021. A few common themes emerged: the certainty that there will be growth, top talent will be in high demand, and reactive changes driven by Covid are here to stay.
Overcome F.U.D with data
Franchising is poised for big growth in 2021. With people losing jobs, taking stock, and deciding they want to be in control of their future or get more enjoyment from what they’re doing, people will continue to explore franchising as an option. But with the chaos and change of 2020 and negative stories in the news, people will likely experience F.U.D (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) when considering making a big change in 2021 (such as making a large investment or changing how they make their money). Providing data to support their decision, being transparent about your organization, what it will be like, and connecting them with franchisees, will all be more important than ever to lead candidates through the decision-making process and not let them get stuck.
—Michelle Rowan, President & COO, Franchise Business Review
Rethink your teams
Businesses have had to reimagine their people infrastructure. I believe it’s a great opportunity to rebuild teams creatively. Now that most businesses have learned to operate in a virtual environment and leadership has adapted to remote working, they can hire the best people with less consideration on location and more consideration on talent, expertise, and skill set. Additionally, I think we will see more part-time contractors and fractional employees than ever before. It allows the employer to save time and money, while bringing higher-end talent and expertise to the team.
—Liane Caruso, Fractional CMO
Retain Covid business models
Many of the business model changes (curbside/delivery/online ordering, etc.) caused by Covid will stick around permanently, while franchisors will also look for ways to “slim down” their franchise offering to reduce costs and add operational efficiencies. Smaller real estate footprints, commercial kitchens shared by multiple brands and serviced by third-party delivery, and fitness/educational concepts operating through online platforms will continue to be a growing trend.
—Eric Stites, CEO & Managing Director, Franchise Business Review
Invest in customer experience
2020 was a year like no other. Lockdowns, closures, and changes in business models caused a scramble in consumer habits and loyalty. In 2021, savvy franchise leaders will invest early in marketing and customer experience to attract more than their fair share of customers reentering the marketplace. Franchisors and franchisees that kept marketing and supported their communities in 2020 are best poised to dominate this year.
—Jayson Pearl, President, ServiceScore
For brands that experienced significant periods of being shuttered, the challenge will be to get back in front of their former customer base, who may have changed habits and priorities during the past year. Recapturing these customers, coupled with potentially depleted cash reserves, may prove to be a major hurdle for some brands.
—Paul Pickett, Chief Development Officer, Wild Birds Unlimited
Put relationships at the heart of everything
As challenging as this pandemic has been, it has provided a unique opportunity for us to connect with each other and with the families we serve far more deeply than if there had been no crisis. The pandemic has illustrated the power of building meaningful and lasting relationships. As we look to 2021, my prediction on what will make the biggest impact on franchising is a return to the fundamental building blocks of all good relationships: respect, commitment, and trust. We strengthen relationships by being proactive and transparent about issues; following up quickly and thoroughly when others call for help; delivering on promises made; refraining from approaching relationships as transactional in nature; and having the courage to speak up when we see others making shortsighted decisions. As franchisors, building, lifting, and sustaining relationships with our franchisees and our end consumers will always be the cornerstone of our shared success.
—Dennis R. Maple, President & CEO, Goddard Systems
Franchises in every industry will need to adapt to the changes we’ve experienced this year. Our businesses are all going to be affected by technology, if they haven’t been already. Consumer buying behaviors have changed. Is this our new normal? Or will consumers revert back to a more traditional way of purchasing? Only time will tell, but regardless, 2020 has shown us firsthand how imperative it is that we are offering prospects the opportunity to buy online. As a franchisee or franchisor, if you haven’t thought this through… it’s time to do so!
—Jennifer Lemcke, CEO, Weed Man
Keep thinking remote
I think franchisor support will remain remote through at least early summer. There might be some travel, but support will still be electronic/telephonic and in some ways more effective. Without travel, there is more time to read and interpret the financial reports and help franchisees work on the “cause and effect” on their business. Additionally, remote support will aid us in the joint employment perceptions because field support will not be tempted to overreach with the franchisees’ employees. Site selection and brand audits can be done in real time but remotely. Removing the travel also will allow field support to be more accessible to the franchisees.
—Mary Ann O’Connell, President, FranWise
Fill the gap
We have noticed there are more people looking to purchase a good existing business, but the challenge is they are not finding them. What they are finding are businesses that lack good written internal business systems and profitability, thus seem too risky to buy. So they are pivoting and looking to franchising to bridge the gap. For quality franchisors this a real opportunity for growth in 2021. With more layoffs this should accelerate.
—Doug Dwyer, President & CSO, DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen
Find your next generation of rock stars
2021 will be an amazing year for franchise development and growth! The franchise brands that will grow the most will be those that engage with all-new candidates. It’s time to move past the same 60,000 names that are already in every database from purchased lists, portals, and 5-year-old events. The next generation of business owners probably have not yet discussed franchising with you or other brands. It’s time for new conversations with people who don’t visit the usual sites but who are alive and engaged on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social channels. Also, anyone who is bold enough to start a business or invest in a franchise in 2021 will be a superstar! They are bold entrepreneurs who will be your top franchisees 3 years from now!
—Jack Monson, Chief Revenue Officer, Social Joey
For the remaining predictions, see the full article on FBR’s website.
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