I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year. After a cold winter there are signs of life everywhere. Days are getting longer, warmer, and with the first buds of spring there is evidence of new birth, and revival in the world around us. And this new energised feeling of rebirth is not just reserved for nature either.
After a two-year slowdown in franchise sales, or perhaps a lack of confidence to invest because of the pandemic, there are signs of life, re-growth and new growth within the franchising industry. That said, some sectors continued to thrive during this period, such as fast food, care industries and cleaning services.
It may have felt like a two-year long winter. However, the sun is once again shining upon the franchise industry. And while it may take until 2023 to fully recover, things are looking good.
Have you spent the past two years wishing you were doing something different? Worn out by long hours, demanding customers, Zoom fatigue? Or perhaps you have been working harder than ever before, for a salary that does not reflect the effort that you put in? If so, you are not alone.
Many people are already using 2022 as a springboard for a change of direction. This could mean a complete career change, perhaps by venturing into the world of business ownership and self-employment. If you are considering franchising as a career, then 2022 could be your moment.
Budding business owners
With nearly 1,000 franchised business systems available in the UK, there are plenty of options to choose from. But how do you narrow it down? Do you try to capitalise on your previous career experience, or would you prefer a complete change and try something new?
The great thing about franchising is that, very often, there is no experience necessary. Franchisors often prefer people who are new to their business sector, because they are more likely to follow the systems and controls currently in place. These are the same systems that have made the franchisor’s business successful already.
Focus on brands that do not require you to have previous experience of their sector. There are plenty of inspirational examples of people who have made that transition successfully. Their stories often contain invaluable advice about the journey, and these may also apply to you.
Takes time to grow
Franchisors look for skills that you have learned over time. These include people skills, good communication, being organised, along with good management of people. They also need to feel confident that you will follow their system. Many franchisors will look for people who are self-motivated and willing to learn.
Just as any seed needs time to germinate and grow, the same applies to finding your new business. So, take your time and find out as much as you can about the business, and why it interests you. Do not rush into making your decision to become a franchisee. Signing a franchise agreement is a big step, a huge commitment and something not to be taken lightly.
Take proper advice. Remember, due diligence should always be carried out with due care and attention. It’s OK to discover that a business is not quite what you thought it was. This is the whole point of due diligence – finding out what is and what isn’t the right decision for you?
It can be hard, sometimes, to recognise your own transferable skills. Many prospective franchisees worry that they lack the skills required. But good franchisors will help you to determine if you have what it takes. Very often people already have the abilities that are needed, namely good customer service, communication and people skills. They just didn’t realise it.
Should I wait until things return To ‘Normal’?
There is a fine balance between caution and missed opportunity, and only you can decide what is right for you. A great question to ask any franchisor is this: ‘What did you do to support your franchisees during the pandemic?’ This will help you to discover how supportive the franchisor really is. It will also give you a good indication of how robust and flexible their business model is.
After all, you need to be confident that you will be supported if external circumstances change suddenly. It’s vital to know that the franchisor is not resting in their ivory tower, but willing to roll up their sleeves and ride the waves with you. This will help you identify the business models that can adapt and survive during tough times. It should help calm your fears and go some way towards giving you the confidence to invest now, rather than waiting.
Define your own normality?
Let’s face it ‘normal’ will be different from before. The vaccines and boosters may have gone a long way to restoring our confidence, but the world post-pandemic will not be the same as it was pre-March 2020. I read a report recently that suggests 50% of our personal happiness is determined by personality traits that have been inherited. Therefore, these are basically outside of our control.
The good news, however, is that the other 50% is within our control. This covers relationships, health, as well as decision-making with regards to our careers. Armed with this knowledge, we have the power to change things and make ourselves a lot happier. It can often come down to how we feel personally.
We can define the return of normality, not by life returning to what it was before this deadly virus took hold, but by adopting a positive attitude and believing that things are slowly returning to ‘normal’. Much of life remains rooted in the mind and whether we consider the glass to be half-empty or half-full.
Adapt to survive
Covid has been a real challenge for many franchise businesses. To stay afloat, franchisors and their business partners were forced to look closely at their core business. They had to adapt by changing their existing operating models. This meant they had to become more resourceful in a world of ever-changing supply chain issues.
They also had to cope with inconsistent Government messages, changes to work patterns, while adopting new and more stringent health and safety measures. Franchise companies needed to create a variety of new strategies to keep business flowing, while continuing to engage with customers. But rather than just wait and see what happens, they have had to move quickly in order to bring in sales.
Confidence to invest in 2022?
I read a recent survey which said 75% of small-business owners are confident that they will be better prepared to handle a crisis, such as Covid, if something similar happened in the future – and maybe the current conflict in Ukraine will test that belief sooner rather than later.
The Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) reported: “Individuals and workplaces anticipate increased levels of hybrid models of working after the pandemic.” This applies to franchise businesses too. While it is true that some small businesses have failed, many others have survived and emerged even stronger.
The great news for investors is that they will be able to benefit from the innovative methods that were adopted because of the pandemic. This means more robust business models going forward.
Do you lack the confidence to invest?
There are signs of life, rebirth, new growth and revival, everywhere in the franchise world. This is a good indication that the sun is once again shining upon the industry. This leads me to believe that 2022 is a good time to invest in a franchise.
Many franchises have survived a difficult two years and are doing well. And they will continue to thrive and operate, should new difficulties emerge down the tracks. Although it may take until 2023 to fully recover, things are looking good.