10 Franchise Trends To Emerge In 2021
In India, franchising is growing at an impressive pace. As per Franchise India, franchising has witnessed a growth of around 30-35% over the last four-five years and the overall turnover is estimated at around INR 938 billion.
At present, the franchise sector contributes nearly 1.8% to the Indian GDP and is estimated to contribute to around 4% by 2022. As the fastest-growing economy, India has tremendous potential for franchising business.
According to Greg Nathan, these will be the top 10 trends to emerge in 2021.
1: Stronger franchisees will expand
While the economic fall out from the pandemic has left many small businesses vulnerable, most franchisees will have a better chance of survival. However, some will still need to close or sell, creating opportunities in networks for stronger franchisees to expand. I recommend franchisors have clear expandability criteria in place to ensure this growing cohort of multi-unit franchisees is suitable to run these additional businesses.
2: Growth will come from within
The best franchise networks have always recruited most new franchisees from within, through a culture of internal succession planning and career development opportunities for high potential staff. The trend will grow, as head offices need to shed experienced staff who want to stay within the group, and multi-unit franchisees (see #1 above) look for young, hungry partners to help them run newly acquired businesses.
3: Meetings will continue in virtual formats
While face to face conferences and forums will return in some markets, the majority of meetings will use a virtual or blended format. Blended meetings involve small gatherings of people linked together virtually through interactive platforms such as Zoom and Google Hangouts. These are cost-effective and can be extremely engaging when used with competent facilitation processes. For instance, FRI's interactive virtual training this year for franchisors and franchisees has received equal or better ratings than our face to face sessions.
4: Performance will increasingly be metrics-driven
Fast evolving technology is delivering easier access to real-time business data. Smart franchisors are investing in business dashboards to monitor key financial metrics, as well as deeper reporting to understand important trends relating to customer habits. Not only will this provide fresh insights into how to improve the customer experience, it means franchisors and franchisees can use this data to work together and develop intelligent strategies to improve overall profitability.
5: Millennials will increasingly take over Support Offices
A growing number of franchisor support office departments are being led by a younger, new breed of leader. While they bring a refreshing openness to diversity and new ideas, the communication skills of this generation are biased to text-based formats. They can be impatient with verbal communications, and fragile when receiving criticism, which can cause tensions in relationships with older franchisees. Ensure your support office team receive regular professional development support in how to maintain empathetic, two-way franchise communications.
6: Greater transparency, fairness and citizenship will be expected
In 1984, Twisted Sister screamed, "We're not gonna take it anymore." Today, a new sense of social justice is sweeping the world, fueled by growing disillusionment in public institutions, and the short-sighted, self-serving behaviour of some businesses. Expect calls for more disclosure by franchisors on how marketing funds are spent, more transparency over decision-making processes, more fairness around fees and supplier rebates, more accountability around culture and behaviour, and more responsibility for the social and environmental impact of products.
7: FACs will shift their focus
Franchisees are increasingly becoming impatient with dysfunctional Franchise Advisory Councils that fail to give them a legitimate voice in the decision-making process. The 'nodding dog' FAC that is expected to rubber-stamp franchisor decisions will become a thing of the past, as will the adversarial franchisee association that spends much of its time and energy fighting with franchisor executives. A mature, collaborative style of FAC with a business development focus will increasingly become the norm.
8: Field support will focus more on the customer
While field managers have traditionally been strong in the compliance and operational aspects of their roles, many struggles to provide useful business development advice to franchisees. Our research shows that, while the financial literacy of field managers is improving, their ability to coach franchisees on how to retain and grow their customer base is still poor. Many do not understand the basics of marketing or how to analyse customer buying patterns - essential skills for helping franchisees to rebuild their businesses. This will be an important new area of professional development for field managers.
9: Franchisee support will be more tailored
There is a growing realisation by franchisors that their franchisees are not all equal in terms of competence, size and support needs. For instance, over half of franchisees in most markets are now in the mature stage of their business life cycle, with 10 or more years under their belt, and many are developing substantial multi-unit operations. These people are operationally and business savvy and are looking for guidance on how to reinvent their businesses and keep themselves fresh and growing. Franchisors will increasingly need to categorise their franchise support into bands to suit the different needs of their franchisees.
10: Franchisors will focus more on psychological well-being
If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us all, it is the terrible impact that stress and uncertainty can have on people's mental health. We have for years been highlighting the important role that personal vitality, supportive social networks, and psychological resilience have for business success. Franchisees and franchisor support teams have been psychologically battered by ongoing operational uncertainty, social isolation and financial pressure. Smart franchisors will provide ongoing professional and personal development to rebuild the confidence and optimism of their teams.