Help For the Time Starved: Service Franchises

Editor’s Note: I would like to introduce our newest expert. Joel Libava will be writing a regular column about trends in franchising. In this first article, he discusses how to evaluate franchises by the needs the underlying business solves — in this case, helping time-starved consumers get back some of their free time.

By Joel Libava

Service sector franchises free up quality time for consumersI am not sure about you, but my life seems busier than it has ever been. Being busy and productive is wonderful in our business lives, but tends to limit time after work, and on the weekends.

Peggy Noonan wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal talking about the way life is for the time starved individual. If I did not look at the date on top of the article, I would have thought she wrote it last week.

I speak at numerous venues about franchising, and am always asked this question; “What is the hottest franchise?” I always answer the same way. “That is a loaded question, because in the franchise world, there are always going to be hot concepts. In my experience however, what is currently hot, can get real cold, real fast.”

This answer usually causes some disappointed looks from the audience, who were probably expecting me to name that one hot franchise that they could run out, buy, and make their millions with.

Instead, I talk about hot franchise trends. What I end up asking the audience is “do you think providing much needed services to time starved consumers could be something to look at in franchising?” At that point, the up and down motions of the audience’s heads move vertically.

As a time-starved entrepreneur, and consumer myself, I am certainly willing and able to pay for some services that will save me time. The other thing I look for is a service that will give me more of my quality time back. Quality time for me is defined as the time I spend at my child’s basketball games, or the time spent going to an afternoon matinée with my wife and friends, as examples.

Todd Recknagel, President of Mr Handyman, says that the service sector of franchising will keep growing. “Consumers just don’t have the time to do a lot of things they used to automatically do years ago. Our service steps in, and takes care of the little, but time consuming stuff that busy homeowners need done”, said Recknagel. He adds “All homeowners have what we call a Honey-Do list. Honey, can you please put up a new ceiling fan, or honey, do you think you can put that extra phone jack in Jenny’s room today? Our uniformed and bonded employees handle things like that.”

Do your kids need a haircut? Do you relish the idea of taking the three of them at different times of the week, because of scheduling conflicts between their activities and your activities? Great Clips, which has over 3,000 locations in the U.S. provides a service … quick, quality haircuts, at an affordable price.

“Customers are definitely experiencing life overload,” according to Rob Goggins, Franchise Director for Great Clips. He adds “In order to help customers manage their time and lives better, they are continually seeking consistent service providers. A successful franchise model provides that consistency.”

I may be going out on a limb (or ladder, in this case), but how many of you wake up in the morning, and enter the day with a strong desire to get up on a ladder, and paint your house? Back in 1992, Charlie Chase went out on a limb, so to speak, and co-founded CertaPro Painters.

“People love the way their homes look when completed, but they hate the process they have to go through (Dealing with contractors etc.). They expect pain and agony to get things done. We really focus on customer service, and have a great reputation” says Chase. He adds, “As more and more baby boomer’s retire, they bring with them the means, but not the inclination to do the actual work. That is where we come in.”

In summation, as more and more of you become disillusioned with your current employment, and make a conscious decision to move towards non-traditional career options such as franchise or small business ownership, I recommend looking at the trends that are shaping America. Try to find opportunities in the sectors that will continue to provide growth opportunities. The service sector is one of them, and helping the time starved live more enjoyable lives is a trend that’s sure to continue.

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About the Author: Joel Libava is President and Life Changer of Franchise Selection Specialists. He blogs at The Franchise King Blog.


Joel Libava Joel Libava is the Franchise Expert for Small Business Trends. Joel, The Franchise King®, equips today’s prospective franchise owners with time-tested, proven techniques designed to increase odds of success. He does this through one-on-one coaching, and gobs of useful content that can be found on places like Small Business Trends, SBA.Gov, and his award-winning franchise blog, The Franchise King Blog . He’s been featured in Entrepreneur® magazine, and is frequently called upon by national media outlets and publications for his no-spin insights into the world of franchising.

18 Reactions
  1. I agree. I think the hottest new businesses will be the ones that offer a service that makes our lives easier and are time effective. Anything quick and easy gets my attention.

  2. Joel, what a great article. In one short comment you articulate a practical application of the micro-economic argument of Utility, Preference, and Rational Choice. J. Bentham first introduced this notion in 1823 he argued in”An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation”, chap. 1. that human beings avoid pain and seek pleasure or happiness”. I cannot think of a better proxy in today’s crazy rat race lifestyle than a service franchise, Kudos.


  3. Neal,
    Thank you so much for your nice compliment!
    Joel Libava

  4. The service sector has played a big part in my life, Mr Handyman has been called on a few times. It just makes everyday living a little easier and and a lot more enjoyable.

  5. Liz at

    Other opportunties in the service area include – dog walking or pet care, grocery delivery, housecleaning, yard work, speedy oil changes, and the latest trend – “ready made meals” in which customers assemble ingredients that have already been purchased, chopped and gathered. No prep and no clean-up. Many consumers are willing to pay for more time in their lives – especially if it comes with a professional attitude and consistency.

  6. Great post. Definitely, the desire for time and consistency is growing the market opportunity for franchising.

    Having said that, I wish these franchisers do a better marketing than what they do today. For example, I did not know there’s a service called CertaPro Painters. If someone ask me what franchisers do I know, my answers would be still UPS, Jamba Juice, Kentucky, etc. The value franchisers bring to the table are supposed to be 1) branding, 2) quality control, 3) coaching to franchise owners.

    From this perspective, do you have any franchisers you would say are going to be hot!? I have written a few startup franchising ideas on my blog, but I have not run one so far. I look forward to getting more inspiration from your posts!

  7. Hi Asako,
    I will try to help out with some ideas. Thanx for the compliment!
    Joel Libava

  8. Thank you very much for sharing this nice description. I also thank you for providing the good links in your page.

  9. what are your suggestions for me doing Errands for people; ie., pick up cleaning, prescriptions, feeding the cat watering the plants etc., charging $20/hr. and .40 cents for gas mileage?

  10. any ideas to help me start an ERRANDS business? I’m thinkig of saying:

    “starved for time” I will run your errands for picking up prescriptions, dry cleaning, feed the cat the bird the dog etc. charging $20/hr and .40 cents a mile for gas? Your thoughts…please….

  11. Hi Kathy,
    I have seen little classified ads for your type of service in local small newspapers for years. The more important question in my opinion, is this:
    What does YOUR business idea have that NO-ONE else has?
    Find that first. Then the name will come naturally!\
    Joel Libava

  12. how can you run errons on only 20 cents a mile. years ago you were paid $1.45 for personal use on ones car, and gas wasn’t $4 a gallon. let me know if you are having any luck. this may be something i would like to do. thank, stan

  13. Wow a wonderful idea.

  14. I really like small local business. Companies like ARS and Mr Handyman seem to be more expensive and offer less experienced people. As a pro of 20 years I have seen this happening in several markets.