The franchise sector is on the up and up, and that’s good news for prospective business owners all over the world.
According to a 2015 study carried out by the International Franchise Association (IFA), the United States franchise industry is forecast to grow by 10.7 per cent in 2016, taking the total number of franchises in the U.S. to almost 800,000. As a result, the IFA also predicts an employment increase in the franchise sector of more than 3 per cent to 9.1 million jobs, and total GDP generated by the franchise industry alone is set to hit a very strong $552 billion, up from $523 billion last year.
The United States doesn’t have a monopoly on the franchise industry though. According to Entrepreneur’s 26th annual Franchise 500®, more than 16,000 businesses were added to the franchise sector between 2013 and 2014, 55 per cent of those outside the U.S.
While the rise of the franchise is boosting bank balances worldwide, it’s also empowering the average Joe Blogs in a market where he may not have had business opportunities before.
“We are forecasting that for the sixth consecutive year, franchise businesses will grow at rates that exceed the economy-wide growth of industries where franchises are concentrated,” says IFA’s President and CEO Robert Cresanti. “Franchise businesses are showing tremendous capability to provide new jobs for working families and new businesses for first-time business owners across all sectors in local communities.”
Simon Lord, editor of Franchise New Zealand, agrees. “Many markets are dominated by one or two big players,” says Simon. “Franchising offers the small business person a chance to be part of a major player by banding franchisees together to harness the power of multiple outlets, while still allowing local ownership with all the benefits of local knowledge, local control and local commitment which that brings.”
Predictably, the quick-service food industry tops the popularity list, making up more than 20 per cent of the franchise pie. But this is not a negative; in fact, Eddy Goldberg from Franchising.com sees the home remodelling segment as a prime opportunity for growth.
“What if you could start a franchised business with the guarantee that you couldn’t fail?” proposes Eddy. “While there are no sure bets in life or in business, some areas are more likely to succeed than others…[including] hair cutting, tax preparation, accounting, shipping and packaging, child and pet care and services, auto-maintenance and repair, home repair and renovation, computer-related services and real estate. “No business is free from risks, but having a firm grasp of current trends – and where they are likely to go in the coming years – is a big step in the direction of long-term franchise success.”
Refresh director Jon Bridge agrees that home renovations offer a lot of room for franchise growth and subsequent success.
“The Refresh model is a really innovative concept when it comes to franchising, because there just isn’t anything to compare it with,” says Jon. “Worldwide homeowners spend billions of dollars on home renovations every year, yet virtually no one specialises in it, so there’s a huge opportunity for people looking to start their own business to really make inroads in the market.”
The numbers are massive. Every year, New Zealanders alone spend a whopping $6.3 billion on home renovations, compared to $4.8 billion on commercial building construction and another $4.8 billion on new-home building. Worldwide the trends are similar: more than a third of all construction is carried out on home renovations globally. Refresh Renovations fills a gaping hole in the building industry by offering a service that looks after the whole renovations process from concept to completion, on the one hand providing homeowners a hassle-free home renovations process and on the other, giving business-savvy entrepreneurs a smart business opportunity.
“Starting out on your own makes building a brand difficult,” says Jon. “The beauty of partnering with a franchise like Refresh is that we’ve spent years defining, refining and testing our brand and our processes, so now every franchise works independently but benefits greatly from the group, because of our trusted brand and collective of likeminded business owners.”
Not all franchises are created equal, especially when it comes to the role of the franchise. Particularly in the fast food industry, franchise owners are traditionally very hands on in the day-to-day processes of their business, effectively becoming another member of staff, while this means they might save on staffing costs, it also means their expert managerial skills are under-utilised. The business management component of their role is saved to after-hours, when they could be spending time with their families (or doing anything other than working), or neglected altogether. Unless you’re a manager who wants to make burgers, chances are you’ll end up disillusioned about the concept of owning your own business, simply because you’re so integral to the day-to-day running of it.
Refresh offers highly experienced managers the opportunity to utilise their skills in a business model designed for high-level business management. It’s a unique franchise model that creates managerial independence, where franchise owners can appoint managers to look after the day-to-day running of their business while they focus on the overall vision, direction and growth. This focus on managerial nous, rather than building experience, gives driven individuals with the passion to be profitable the opportunity to own their own business.
Refresh’s utilisation of an online business management system in the day-to-day running of each franchise is indicative of a worldwide trend towards technology and increased mobility away from the office.
“Technology has made business easier for everyone,” says Tomas H. Lucero from Business Review USA. “Certainly the most significant concept taking root with franchises is the ubiquity of software services hosted in cloud, or simply, software that’s not installed on a computer, but instead resides on the web. There, they are hosted in a single secured environment and accessible from any internet-connected device, be it a computer, phone or tablet,” thus, enabling franchise owners to manage their business from anywhere in the country – even the world – as long as they have an internet connection.
Franchising is a wise option for management-minded individuals to own their own business, because a lot of the hard work has already been done. The framework of the business is already there, trial and error has already been carried out, industry connections have already been made, and in more and more cases the mobility that comes with a cloud-based technology system has been established. A franchisee effectively steps into a business model that has been proven to work; their job is to make their part of the group successful.