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Three Ways Franchisors Should Pivot Right Now

By Harold Kestenbaum

Despite what you might think, now is actually a great time for franchises. Whereas with the 2008 recession, access to funding and financing was extremely limited, the opposite is true now. With low interest rates and many funding programs targeting small businesses, franchisors have the unique opportunity right now to learn how to sell more franchises, despite the upheaval our world seems to be experiencing.

The key, however, is pivoting to reflect our current reality. Here’s what franchisors can do to make sure those franchising opportunities best match what the world needs right now.

1. Roll with the Punches

I think we can all agree that industries like restaurant and fitness will be forever changed, due to COVID-19. Many restaurants, particularly quick-serve ones, are surviving and even thriving due to takeout and delivery business, as many states continue to have restrictions on inside dining.

Given that most restaurant franchise models have, until now, heavily relied on sit-down service, it may be time to change that model to reflect the shift in dining habits. How?

Create smaller footprints for stores. The investment and labor required are less for smaller spaces, but restaurants can still charge the same prices or more for the food they serve. And, consequently, franchisors may find they can attract more franchisees who will be drawn to a model with lower overhead and streamlined operations.

For the fitness industry, the opposite situation exists. Many gyms and other fitness franchises will need more space so people can spread out. This will make those franchises more expensive, and current models might need to adjust, including by offering services exclusively online and through video conferencing platforms or by marketing to a different type of franchisee that can make the necessary investment.

2. Look for New Concept Opportunities

In addition to modifying what has already been developed, there is also a great opportunity to look for new concepts that can be franchised and best serve the marketplace and today’s “new normal.”

Those that come up with innovative ideas right now will be the leaders in their space for years to come. It’s worth a brainstorming session or two to see if you can take more market share by coming up with something new. Some examples might include concepts in the healthcare field, e-retail, and more.

3. Reconsider How You Market to Franchisees

While much consideration has been put on what the franchises themselves will look like in the future, let us not overlook the path to attracting new franchisees.

Trade shows may not exist as we’ve known them for quite a while. It might be many months before we can have a gathering of thousands of people in a space. In the meantime, franchisors should take the investment they would have normally put toward exhibiting at a trade show to different use.

Now is the time to explore other marketing avenues like social media, email, content marketing, and virtual trade shows, as well as online advertising on search engines and other platforms.

No one knows what the future holds, but one thing is certain: if you continue to run your franchise brand as you have in the past, and don’t look for ways to innovate, you will miss out on serious opportunities for growth as this pandemic and recession wane. 

Harold L. Kestenbaum, Esq. Partner, Spadea Lignana Attorneys at Law
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