There are a couple of categories in franchising that will continue to gather steam in 2010, and for many years to come. There will also be some other interesting things going on in franchising in 2010, and they don’t involve the latest pizza craze, or the launch of a solar-powered pretzel stand.
Let’s start by talking about our country’s demographics. According to AARP International:
“In two years, the oldest of the baby boomers will start turning 65. The baby boomer bulge will continue padding the senior population year after year, growing to 1 in 5 U.S. residents by 2030.”
Millions of baby boomers are retiring every year, and medical advances will allow these folks to live longer, more productive lives. The franchise industry has been starting to capitalize on this trend, with franchise concepts being launched to allow these retired folks to enjoy themselves, longer. Here are a few examples;
- CruiseOne– Being part of World Travel Holdings (WTH) has it’s advantages. CruiseOne franchisees enjoy the distinction of being with the number #1 distributor of cruises in the world. WTH has several other major travel brands, and partners with such companies as Priceline.com, Travelers Advantage, (a 2.2 million online loyalty club) and several major airlines. (CruiseOne was mentioned in my Franchise Trends article last year, too. If you’re going to become a franchise owner, part of your decision to choose a particular franchise opportunity needs to depend on leverage. In this case, leveraging this franchisors massive buying power, so your customers can get the best deals on their cruises.)
- Club 50 Fitness Centers– One way to live longer is to exercise regularly. Being a franchisor in a crowded market like fitness can’t be too enjoyable, unless you have a strong USP. (Unique Selling Proposition) Do you think that focusing on the wealthiest, fastest growing population in the US is unique enough? Out of the 20+ fitness-related franchises that one can choose from, currently there’s only a couple that cater specifically to the 50+ crowd.
- Golf Etc .- A sizable number of retirees view the game of golf as very serious business. This would be the reason that retirement communities always seem to have easy access to beautiful golf courses. While there’s no shortage of nice little pro shops attached to public and private golf courses, there just aren’t that many branded retail stores that specialize in all things golf-related. Golf Etc. not only sells things like golf clubs, golf shoes, and golf bags, but also provides golf club fitting and repair services. Golfers can even get a personalized evaluation of their golf swings.
- AmRamp – Mobility is the key to freedom for senior citizens. If they can get into and out of their homes with minimal assistance, they can stay in their homes, instead of going to a nursing home. AmRamp franchisees keep their clients mobile by selling, renting, and installing ramp systems that maintain a good quality of life. The ramps are modular, and usually don’t require building permits when they are installed.
Another trend that bears watching (and is focused on the exact same demographic) is the number of medical and non-medical care franchises that continue to target the senior market. I counted thirty different senior care franchise offerings that are currently being marketed to prospective franchise owners. Thirty! 2010 may be a year of consolidation in this industry, which provides much needed services to families in stressful situations. Comfort Keepers , HomeInstead , and HomeHelpers are pretty dominant players in the non-medical senior care area. Two of the the senior care franchises that specialize in at home medical care include Brightstar Healthcare, and Interim HealthCare .
The food sector continues to be popular with those looking to be their own bosses, and new concepts along with some re-tooled ones, are being launched all the time.
- Did you know that there are over 250,000 ways that you can order a burger at Five Guys Burgers And Fries? This burger chain has over 450 locations, with several more in development. If you can commit to opening a minimum of five locations, and have food and beverage experience, this brand seems to have a lot of steam behind it.
- Frozen yogurt is coming to a strip center near you. TCBY was a popular frozen yogurt franchise years ago, and has been freshening up it’s brand as of late. This 25 year old franchisor is now part of Mrs. Fields Famous Brands, which also owns the Mrs. Fields Famous Cookies franchise. TCBY may be the pioneer in the frozen yogurt franchise arena, but it’s not an empty arena. There’s SpoonMe, Yogen Fruz , Red Mango , and Pinkberry , too. Tasti D-Lite, which started in 1987, also seems to be getting back in the game.
- Mexican food franchises like Qdoba Mexican Grill  will continue to be popular in 2010. Panchero’s Mexican Grill out of the Hawkeye state is also one to watch. They just won an award at the Franchise Leadership And Development Conference for best use of social media.
Other sectors that should prove popular in 2010 include;
- Supplemental education franchises for children like the Tutoring Club , and Tutor Doctor will continue to grow, and provide much-needed help for our country’s youth.
- Green is still the thing, and companies like Solar Universe, and Pro Energy Consultants , will try to help you become more energy efficient in your home and office. Thomas Friedman, author of “The World Is Flat,” talked about the importance of E.T. The franchise industry will continue to create opportunities for would-be franchise owners that want to harness the power of green technology.
- Home-based franchises tend to be low investment types of opportunities, and are for people that are self-motivated, and who realize that they need to get out of the home office in order to make money. Closets By Design  franchisees may be able to capitalize on homeowners who haven’t been able to sell their homes, but need storage solutions. On the other end of the real estate spectrum, there are people who want to buy homes, and need to have them inspected by franchise owners of Pillar To Post .
2010 could be a pivotal year for the franchise industry as a whole. The availability of small business loans for start-up franchises has been very challenging, but should improve somewhat by the second half of the year. If new franchise unit sales remain slow, franchisors will really have to step-up their support of existing franchise owners, who pay the franchisors a percentage of their revenue in the form of royalty payments.
More and more franchisors will be using social media marketing techniques to get customers and clients in the door for their franchisees. Here are a couple of examples of what you’re going to see more of in 2010;
- Pizza Hu t offers 20% off if you order their pizza with your iPhone, using their special iPhone application, which you’ll find on their own Facebook page.
- A 60 year old brand like Dunkin’ Donuts certainly uses the many social media marketing outlets available to help them get their message out. One recent example had to do with California. Dunkin’ Donuts is a large franchise operation, but they don’t have a very large footprint out West. What they do have however, is a Facebook Fan Page  with over 980,000 “fans,” and a Twitter account with over 39,000 followers. They keep their fans and followers in the loop, and fans and followers will be the first ones to know when this donut chain moves into California with a vengeance.
- eMed-ID provides individuals and families with a personal computer storage device uploaded with their complete personal health record including medications, allergies, blood type and special conditions, so that in case of emergency, health professionals on the scene can view the patients information fast. This young franchisor is using social media marketing to get the word out about their franchise opportunity. Check out their powerful Facebook Fan Page. You’ll see what I mean.
Social media marketing techniques will be used by more franchisors in 2010, than in 2008 and 2009, combined. Franchise company executives are starting to realize that today’s consumer doesn’t want to be “sold” anymore. Consumers are using technology to seek out the things that they are interested in.
The folks at Razorfish , a marketing and design company said that:
“For brands to remain relevant in this environment, they will need to adapt to both emerging technologies and shifting consumer behavior without delay. Those who will succeed need to act more like publishers, entertainment companies or even party planners, than advertisers.”
Today’s franchise buyers have an unprecedented amount of information at their fingertips. (Their keyboards, actually) They expect fast answers to their questions. They want more transparency “fransparency” from the franchisor. They also want to be more in control of the franchise discovery process, and they won’t be rushed into making a buying decision.
Franchisors that choose to adapt to this rapidly changing “social” environment will be the ones that prosper in 2010.
If the banks start making more commercial loans available for franchise start-up businesses, 2010 looks to be a good year for the franchise industry.
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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 .