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A huge chance for our voice to be heard

Written by Richard Pakey on Wednesday, 09 December 2020. Posted in Insight

Richard Pakey believes the time is right for franchising to step out of the shadows and become ‘the next big thing’ in 2021.

A huge chance for our voice to be heard

Richard Pakey believes the time is right for franchising to step out of the shadows and become ‘the next big thing’ in 2021.

Some of you reading this might recall that in 1992 the Queen made a famous speech referring to the year as being her ‘annus horribilis.’ Many people will probably say the same thing on December 31st this year, following nine or 10 months of terrible news regarding Covid. This destructive virus will have affected many thousands of people personally – and in many different ways. This time last year there were reports of a terrible virus causing devastation in China, but few would have predicted the disastrous effect that Covid-19 would have globally.

As this article is being written, news is breaking of major high street chains struggling and in serious financial trouble, all with the potential to impact on tens of thousands of jobs. This will certainly have a short and medium term impact on the economy, but the longer term implications of potentially empty high street properties is far greater.

We do not want an empty high street

And yet, despite the doom and gloom, there does appear to be some optimism. The pandemic does, at least for the moment, show some signs of slowing down and there is plenty of positive talk about a vaccine being rolled out.

Let’s look at the positives for 2020: It has been a very strong year for the franchising sector, with many enquiries from people wishing to set up their own businesses. Some are looking to buy a franchise, while others ponder the notion of tuning their own businesses into one. There have also been a number of overseas brands investigating the possibility of entering the UK franchise market.

Could franchising be the economic answer?

Online has thrived during these uncertain times – and it was on an upwards curve anyway. Home deliveries are now becoming widely accepted as standard, as we have changed the way we shop. And it’s a change which has happened very, very quickly. A few years back, the high street was criticised and described as resembling ‘Clone Towns.’ But with many businesses being forced to close, are things about to change once again?

Is there a pent up demand?

When Covid is finally defeated, many day-to-day experiences will continue as before, such as visiting friends and family, going to the cinema or having a coffee while out shopping. Demand for these things will probably remain the same.

Franchising can provide a solution

Historically, each franchise system operates individually, and there is little evidence to suggest that this will change. However, can the franchise sector be more concerted in their efforts to unite? Here are a few suggestions for consideration:

• Competing and non-competing food brands (to use as an example) can complement each other. This can be achieved either by driving more traffic or creating further choice, in a bid to generate footfall into high streets or shopping centres.

• Larger high street units can be split into zones or unit spaces to ensure fixed costs are kept as low as possible. Once again, by creating more choice, there is more chance of increasing footfall.

• Franchising can be a great alternative to employment. Franchisors provide support while there are Government schemes to help those looking to start their own businesses. These schemes are aimed at making the transition, from employee to business owner, as smooth and as less stressful as possible.

• Some home-based franchises can fuel the appetite for a better work-life balance.  Those who have worked at home during lockdown probably view this method as being preferable to commuting – whether by bus, train or car. However, people still need to be educated about making such a change because some businesses are not meant to be operated from home – but are now having to because of lockdown.

• The franchising community is now in the best possible position from which to benefit from all the upheaval of the past few months. There is now a chance for its collective voice to be heard. Franchising in the UK is still relatively unknown. Huge swathes of the general public still believe franchising is only reserved for big corporations. There are still only approximately 1,000 different franchised concepts in the UK, which is a lot fewer than in most other developed countries. Many people still don’t believe franchising is a real possibility for them.

As 2020 draws to a close, I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and thank you for taking the time to read my articles. I do hope they spark debate. All the best for 2021.

About the Author

Richard Pakey

Richard Pakey

Richard Pakey is a franchising expert and Regional Director for the award-winning Lime Licensing Group.

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