Did 2020 change franchising forever? You can certainly argue that point. While it has been an extremely challenging year, the pandemic has positioned 2021 to be great for franchising and for people seeking new opportunities.
The pandemic brought incredible innovations and improvement along with uncertainty and closed doors. Franchised businesses, in particular, fared better than local mom and pops. Of course, within franchising, some business sectors were more resilient than others. Restoration and cleaning franchises gained new business with related COVID-fighting services. Home services franchises benefitted from more people sheltering in place. With travel restrictions, folks used their vacation budgets for remodeling and upgrades instead of a week at the beach. I can imagine that 2021 could make up for the losses in travel. There will be lots of pent-up demand. I, personally, can’t wait to get out of the house!
Many food franchises took a hit, but some responded better than others. Some were able to pivot and innovate by adding technology and implementing services to adhere to social distancing regulations. These changes improved their models for the long term and now offer better, more convenient services for customers.
There was a great response from the International Franchise Association (IFA) for its members and the industry at large. They advocated for the industry and brought the franchise community together with shared information and resources.
I am looking forward to 2021. The year looks promising with vaccines being administered and political drama behind us. Many people (most notably women and baby boomers) have started new businesses in franchising this year and the trend will continue. COVID-19 has created new opportunities, and will shift attitudes and expectations about cleanliness and germs (just like 9-11 shifted attitudes about security). With high unemployment, franchise development is booming. Franchising is well positioned to grow even stronger in 2021. I would expect franchising to be a leader in many ways as the economy recovers and America’s culture improves with less tension and more cooperative attitudes. Am I right? I’m hopeful people will find the strength to unite and get along better than before.
I have been incredibly impressed with the resilience of our industry and the support that franchisors gave when it really counted. Entrepreneurs are known for creating opportunities, and COVID has given them a time to shine. The pandemic has challenged the industry’s leaders to innovate at an impressive pace. I would say that they work well under pressure! Now we know that franchising’s leaders are ready to go at any time, especially when the going gets tough!
I miss seeing my friends and colleagues at the industry events, but we’ll make the most of it virtually for now. Happy New Year!