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 I 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 matin\u00c3\u00a9e 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. * * * * * About the Author: Joel Libava is President and Life Changer of Franchise Selection Specialists. He blogs at The Franchise King Blog.