This is a guest post by Merilee Kern
Like veritably all businesses in the post pandemic era, those operating in the franchise space are experiencing a wave of major change—as is the franchising trade at large. Accelerated and elevated adoption of technology; consumer demand for more efficient and on-demand service; and employee appeals for greater flexibility are among the many industry pivots that are evolving seemingly by the day.
These and other kinds of changes and challenges each have their own implications within the franchise space—a sector projected to open more than 26,000 locations and nearly 800,000 new jobs, employ nearly 8.3 million people and contribute $477 Billion to the U.S. GDP by 2021 year end.
“Amid all of the economic upside and the changes that are propelling the sector into new territory on multiple fronts, there are also numerous disruptive trends that, if not aptly adapted to, can become make-or-break factors for a franchise-based business,” cautions Jimmy St. Louis, Chief Executive Officer at Franchise123.com—the franchise business MLS that connects franchise buyers and sellers globally.
According to St. Louis, here are a few key disruptive trends reshaping the space.
Transparency Takes the Lead
Now more than ever, accurate data and transparency is no longer a request, but rather has become a foundational requirement. The franchise development industry has never experienced the collective and global transparency of franchise data that is now underway. Franchise brokers, consultants and online franchise portals currently dominate the franchise development industry, but these outdated methods do not adequately meet the needs of modern investors. No matter the investment, buyers expect transparency and comprehensive data to facilitate the vetting process. Franchise buyers do not just want to be sold something, but rather they want to invest in a business that will best assure they will thrive financially, professionally and personally. Proper franchise selection has the biggest impact on whether or not a franchisee will succeed in any or all of these areas. Brokers and franchise portals not only limit the options available, but may also guide a prospective buyer towards a brand that is not right for their goals, objectives and sensibilities.
Industry Portals are Perishing
Specialized industry lead generation and business development portals have long been the connector between franchisors seeking to engage with potential franchisees, and they are dying on the vine—and rightfully so. Although consumers may not be aware, portals can be doing them a disservice. This is because of the fairly ubiquitous business model where portals are compensated for leads created—inherently creating a bias and weighting interests toward the portals themselves versus prospective buyers. That means that, as a franchise investor, a portal makes money off of you whether or not you are actually interested in—or suited for—the brand you merely clicked on to check out. Beyond this dynamic, there are a myriad of other problems with franchise portals. Brands are looking to these portals to find qualified and interested buyers, but often feel that they are wasting their time, energy and marketing dollars on unprepared leads. Those that are often not pre-qualified, vetted or properly funneled toward applicable brands. In addition the prospective franchisee is then often prematurely bombarded with phone calls even prior to their understanding of the brand. In turn, they are also left to their own accord to organize their thoughts, perform their own research and make their own investment decision. Thus, franchisors have been lamenting that they are paying too much per lead and heeding very limited results—eroding business development budgets that are stressed and waning post-COVID-19.These dollars are now being allocated toward other lead generation methods with a more demonstrable ROI.
Mass Entry Mishaps
Also in the wake of COVID-19 people are more wary than ever. Many have lost their jobs and, with it, their sense of stability in a traditional career path. Suddenly a 9 to5 job and promise of a bi-weekly paycheck does not feel reliable and, income aside, many people are also seeking more professional autonomy. The recent pandemic has accelerated the mass exodus from traditional careers and fueled the transition to freelancing, gig work and entrepreneurship. With this, franchise businesses have become a very popular option for people looking to pursue a more entrepreneurial route while absorbing less risk. This wave of new buyers are seeking to capitalize on the engrained support—and to leverage the power of an already established brand—as they embark on their entrepreneurial path. However, this eagerness and enthusiasm can lead to hasty or high pressure-driven decisions and avoidable mistakes—with selecting the wrong franchise for their goals and personality paramount among them.
Industry insiders indicate that ew legislation will soon be proposed that threatens the profitability of the franchise broker business model. Franchise brokers count on being paid a portion of the initial fee that a new franchisee has paid to the brand up front, before the unit opens. By example, if a franchise investor pays $99,000 for the rights to open five locations, a franchise broker is typically paid 50% or more of that as their commission, regardless of the amount of locations the franchise opens. However, the newly-proposed legislation allows brokers to be paid the franchise fee as each franchise unit actually opens. This payment paradigm changes the entire sales process and cash flow for a broker. Compounding the concern is the fact that there are thousands of franchises soled each year that never open. With the current system, brokers are paid for their efforts of successfully bringing a new franchisee into the fold whether or not a unit actually opens—a post-sale situation out of their control and sphere of influence. This entire dynamic can put both the broker and the franchisor in a more compromising position, strain professional relationships in the process and potentially undermine a franchisee’s ability to obtain adequate broker assistance when desired. In simple terms, this new legislation will align the interest of all parties, but the broker network will surely not like it.
What Does This Mean for the Future of Franchising?
“These disruptions in particular are prompting key concerns for all contingents: inadequate access to mission critical information, cost inefficiencies and misaligned interests among them,” notes St. Louis. “Franchisors are having immense difficultly finding qualified franchisees due to misaligned interests of portals. This as brokers, and the tidal wave of prospective new franchise buyers themselves, are lacking a means to procure qualified information and efficiently connect with the right franchisors. This sector exemplifies the need for innovation and we expect to see several technological solutions manifest over the next few years. Transparent and self-guided sales processes have already begun to dominate a multitude of industries, including everything from buying houses on platforms like Zillow and cars on Carvana to shopping for insurance and more. Franchise development is long overdue for change; namely to establish a more innovative sales method that truly aligns the interests of franchisors and franchisees, alike, to the drastic benefit of all parties.”
Perhaps anything less than what St. Louis describes would be akin to shopping for a home without access to meaningful online data, leading to wholly inefficient and uninformed decision making that only exacerbates risk. In today’s marketplace, and the hugely impactful franchise trade in particular, that kind of result is entirely unnecessary, avoidable and will surely be regarded buy industry pundits as wholly unacceptable. Today, one couldn’t even imaging buying a home without suitable online retargets.
Toward this end, St. Louis is pioneering change with Franchise123.com–a first mover in the franchise development space. By providing a platform that allows prospective franchisees to independently access all of the information they need, on-demand and at their fingertips, they can make a fully informed and unbiased decision about the franchise that will best meet their needs and help them achieve their goals as a business owner.
As an equitable, multi-sided business platform, Franchise123.com allows prospective franchisees to connect directly with franchisors. This structure allows for both franchisors and franchisees to manage and store their respective custom data associated with franchise buying and selling, and to even execute the transition online. The vast amount of tools that are provided to both franchisors and franchisees are intuitive and can demonstrate critical value to the investing experience. This first-of-its-kind platform is well-poised to become the benchmark standard for any franchise investor and seller.
The Franchise123.com process is comprised of three easy, user-friendly steps that do not require any prior experience with franchising.
- Identify. How does a prospective business owner know that franchising is the right path for them? Franchise123.com provides a thorough breakdown of franchising and what all it entails in an objective format, never pushing a user toward a brand—or franchising at large—if it’s not the right fit.
- Research. Franchise123.com allows buyers to view company information such as investment requirements, franchise fees, royalty fees, how long the company has been franchising, how many locations are currently open, potential earnings and more. The platform offers thousands of Franchise Disclosure Documents available through the site that may be viewed at no cost. Users can even do side-by-side comparisons of franchise statistics with a convenient comparison tool.
- Decide. Once a buyer has narrowed down their top franchise choices, they can work their way through the entire buying process right from their Franchise123.com dashboard, including direct communication with the franchisor. No need for a middleman to slow or sway the process.
- Manage. Franchisors can claim their brand, update their company information, access information on their franchise leads and engage directly with prospective franchisors. As an added service, they can also opt to have Franchise123.com take care of the entire franchise development process for them, from start to finish.
“Because of the franchisee journey we’ve created, franchisors can rest assured that the leads they receive from our platform are high quality and truly interested in their brand,” St. Louis said. “This will be a welcome change from the wasted time and money spent chasing after the poor-quality leads provided by franchise portals. And the benefits for buyers equally abound and starts with free access. Anyone can create an account on Franchise123 and begin exploring franchise options at no cost. Our intention is to completely transform the industry and make a significant, quantifiable impact in franchise sector growth. Toward that end, franchisees can rest assured that they have adequate investment tools to make the best, most accurate and informed decision for their interests, needs and goals.”
According to one report, assuming control of the COVID-19 pandemic is forthcoming this year, FRANdata predicts that by year-end, franchising will have recovered to nearly 2019 levels in most metrics: business growth, employment, economic outlook, and contribution to the GDP. The report also cited that total franchise output is projected to grow by 16.4% and contribute a total of $780 billion to the U.S. economy. All this largely founded on antiquated systems and processes rife with shortcomings. One need only imagine the economic upswing were the franchise development space to operate in a more efficient and equitable manner. This St. Louis is apparently hell bent on making happen.
About the Guest Post Author:
Forbes Business Council Member Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist and futurist who reports on noteworthy industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all B2B and B2C categories. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Merilee is Founder, Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List” as well as Host of the “Savvy Ventures” business TV show that airs nationally on FOX Business TV and Bloomberg TV and the “Savvy Living” lifestyle TV show that airs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta and other major markets on CBS, FOX and other top networks. As a prolific business and consumer trends, lifestyle and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, she keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme—also delving into the minds behind the brands. Her work reaches multi-millions worldwide via broadcast TV (her own shows and copious others on which she appears) as well as a myriad of print and online publications. Connect with her at www.TheLuxeList.com and www.SavvyLiving.tv / Instagram www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReports / Twitter www.Twitter.com/LuxeListReports / Facebook www.Facebook.com/LuxeListReports / LinkedIN www.LinkedIn.com/in/MerileeKern.