New Franchisors – you’ve timed it perfectly.
To all you new franchisors, I have a simple message backed up by some facts from history. Don’t delay to launch a franchise. Here’s some evidence from previous recessions and FTSE crashes as to what happened once the dust settled. If history is a guide then Coronavirus might just make 2020 the best year EVER for new franchisors. This might seem odd but read on.
Why right now is the best time to franchise your business.
There are advantages to being in my mid fifties. True, some disadvantages too, but let’s not dwell on those. However, from a franchising perspective there’s not a lot I haven’t experienced since 1993. As a relative whipper snapper still in my 20’s I joined the family greeting card firm, Appletree Cottage.
The 90’s recession
If like me you were around in the early 1990’s you might remember that a recession had just happened. Companies reported that their phones literally stopped ringing overnight. The FTSE tanked. Franchisors who had established franchise networks struggled. But, and crucially for new franchisors of today, those brands that had just launched a franchise network timed it to perfection. Often without realising what they’d done because bumper years followed.
Displaced labour market
A lot of those people who previously had stable jobs lost them. Companies went bust. Those who were easy redundancy targets got their redundancy letters. Some businesses went under. Where did they all go? A lot ended up in the franchise industry and myself and many other Franchisors at that time enjoyed a field day. It lasted for several years after the recession. The memories of being displaced by their bosses, or companies going under outlasted the dip. Fuelled on by the experience the desire for self employment was high and we got busy. Real busy.
We went on to establish three national franchise brands in retail supply. After ten years at it we had over 10,000 shops stocking our products all looked after by a small army of franchisees. As is often the case with successful domestic brands our success also allowed us to franchise overseas too. I have fond memories of sitting in cafes in Tenerife meeting our franchisees.
The recession and franchising
The next time the stock market crashed was the credit crunch in the early 2000’s. By now though we had sold our retail supply network. Luckily just before things really started to hurt. Fortunate timing but we did see the writing on the wall and got out with a great payday. Shortly afterwards I launched my career as a franchise consultant and straight after that downturn the franchise industry sparked into life again. I was recruiting for Concept Building Solutions and we were selling franchises for fun. It was the fastest growing white collar franchise for a time.
I lost count of the number of professional people who just wanted to be more in control of their own destiny. They’d had enough of being bumped from one role to another by previous employers. Many felt they were too old to find a new job. They didn’t want another redundancy, and as we all know the franchise industry welcomes experience that comes with age. The average age of new franchisees is still late forties, a lot are in their 50’s. It was a great period to be selling franchises and we were riding an upturn in the economy and peoples outlook.
After Credit Crunch new franchisors flourished
Then came credit crunch 2007 and that was a big big economic downturn. Where was I then? Well I’d just sold a consultancy called Franchise Pro Ltd. Following 2007 there was pressure for second incomes to be earned in households. Either part time or a side gig (as it’s now called). But one that would fit in around family life as most second incomes have to do. With the previous recession still in people’s minds I launched a franchise brand designed for that very situation. Aimed at working mums and hiring out linen for weddings and providing other styling elements for hire.
Within a few years our national franchise network of 40+ franchisees, all women, we’re doing 4,000 – 5,000 weddings between them. We literally lost count of how many we did. Plenty of other Franchisors grew quickly at that time too. Our wedding company was a great success and a market leading brand. But only because I launched it as a franchise and straight off the back of credit crunch a lot of latent demand flooded in.
New Franchisors shouldn’t fear Coronavirus. Embrace the moment that follows instead
So, here we are again with another economic shock with Coronavirus. Different, but kind of the same for Franchisors. I personally am excited for all of our franchise clients because they are all in the business of recruiting franchisees. If they’d all got a full network already they’d be at the mercy of the economy the same as everyone else. But as a franchisor about to recruit a network it’s time to get ready to make hay while the sun is shining. Set out your stall right now and get ready. History has proved that the period following a recession is great for new franchisors.
My message to you is ride this current negative wave out. Use it as an opportunity to get all your new franchise ducks in a row. Get yourself in pole position and then give it both barrels from the first moment of recovery. Believe me when I say this, those new franchisors who invest the time and resource right now will clean up while the others are still licking their wounds.
What I wish I’d known
One things for sure, I just wish I’d met someone like me in 1993. Because that person would have saved my family a huge amount of time, problems, costs, and “franchisey” type struggles. I learnt a huge amount from my Dad before he retired, he’s been a great business mentor but his background wasn’t in franchising either. If I’d had known back then what I know now – oh my god, we’d have got there much quicker. If only we’d known….
It’s what you don’t know that counts.
When I launched Lime Licensing Group in 2007 I wanted the company to specialise in bringing new franchisors to market. That’s still true today. The value of what our franchise consultants can bring is huge. There’s a specific route to navigate in this current climate. See it as a pathway through the jungle. Would you go alone into the jungle? Or would you maybe take a guide with you? I’d do the latter every day. I don’t think there’s anyone better than Lime Licensing to guide you because we have literally been there and done it.
Coronavirus is the cause but the symptoms for the economy are the same. There is an amazing moment round the corner for all new franchisors and those who are building networks too. Speak to us about how to get in position right now. Don’t miss what’s around the corner, it’s coming and you need to be ready for it.
Now that I’ve shared this with you don’t let the ship sail away without your brand being onboard. History repeats itself, get your franchise offer ready now. In fact do it with or without our help! I’d rather we didn’t have the virus around of course but you’ve got to plan ahead in business. I for one am looking forward to when the dust settles and we’ll pounce on it like a tiger. It takes 8 weeks or so for new franchisors to launch their franchise. That is if you’re going to do it properly. We at Lime and all our clients will be ready. What about you?