Franchise Sales During the Recession

WSJRecently, in one of the franchise groups on LinkedIn, there was some discussion about the Wall Street Journal article, “Franchise Sales Pull Back During the Recession.” Several franchise professionals posted their comments and, of course, I added my “two cents” as well. Okay, I was definitely long-winded compared to the others, but as most of you who read my articles are well aware, I have a passion for franchising and franchise success and tend to go on and on to share the same with all who will “listen.”

“I too, believe there are many well-qualified candidates exploring franchising. Some as a career alternative, and also, in the case of already being a small busines owner, as a business expansion strategy and/or an income diversification plan.

No doubt, the number of overall franchise leads has diminished quite a bit. But I believe many of the “tire kickers” have gone by the wayside while the more qualified candidates continue to search, inquire and ultimately decide franchising is right for them to achieve their goals and objectives. However, in order to fully realize this trend, one must realize that the candidates’ approach has evolved.

Today’s qualified franchise candidate is more sophisticated, educated and technologically advanced than we have ever seen before. Add to the mix, a sense of extreme caution, and their process in exploring franchising and specifc franchise opportunities has become more of a detailed, well-thought out strategy.

Always understanding that there is risk in any entrepreneurial endeavor, today’s candidates explore franchising because it may provide even the slightest edge against failure. Their mantra has become, “failure is not an option” and they now live it by doing everything humanly possible to dot every “i” and cross every “t” and then rechecking only to do it over and over again until they have full, complete confidence in their decision.

To that end, the overall process from initial inquiry to franchise award is much longer than in years’ past and that is something franchisors must be prepared to effectively handle. It’s a primary reason I believe social media works so well in the new era of franchise sales as it creates an environment for today’s candidates to research organizations, share information, communicate with individuals at all levels of the franchise organization from franchisees to corporate executives, view photos, audio and video, etc. And, they can do so at their own pace and to their full understanding. That is the key.

Understanding and adapting to today’s qualified franchise candidate will help franchisors ride out this current economic downturn. Putting their heads in the sand and just complaining about the poor economy and the franchise candidate pool drying up will only incorrectly prove true that their negative thoughts are correct.

All that being said, certainly there are challenges in securing financing and other variables that must be contended with and addressed accordingly. But as the franchise candidate pool diminishes and many of the tire kickers aren’t around to waste our time, we should now have more time to explore all options, use our creativity and innovation, network beyond our comfort zones and seek out alternative solutions. I believe those solutions are out there and many are capitalizing on them as we speak. They will not only survive, they will thrive as others have done in other recessionary periods.”

5 thoughts on “Franchise Sales During the Recession

  1. Today’s franchise sales environment is definitely tough for reasons that we’re all well aware of. Access to funding remains a significant obstacle. So the biggest challenge from my perspective as a broker is finding people who are both (a) qualified financially either through liquid assets or retirement assets, and(b)truly committed to change in their life and comfortable enough with their skills and experience to trust that the “right” franchisor will help them navigate through the choppy economic environment. Having said that, I now largely concentrate only on models that have a recession-resistance component–in 4-5 business categories. I want my clients to overcome any fear of starting up in a down economy right away. If I can share with them business models that tend to perform well in good times and bad, but they’re still hung up in that area, there isn’t much I can do. That, in my mind, isn’t a qualified candidate so I move on.

  2. In the end, aren’t the few that are serious really the ones that you should be spending your time with anyway? If anything, we should be more effective without being distracted by all the non-qualified tire kickers. And, I really don’t believe there are any less number of QUALIFIED candidates than before. Yes, the overall pool has diminished significantly, but the creme still stays at the top, even though the glass is now half full. Best of luck!

  3. I agree with you completely. We have seen less random requests for Franchise Info but continue to work with the few that are really serious.

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