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The Hottest Franchise Trends: 8 To Get In On Now!
So here we are in 2006 and you might still be trying to figure out what to do with the rest of your life. If self-employment has been a dream for some time, you may be wondering “How do you get there and minimize the risk?” Or if you’re tired of corporate life and want to control your own destiny, you might ask, “Can I break free from the corporate cult?”
The answer to minimizing your risk, controlling your destiny and delimiting your earning potential could be through a franchise business. The franchise has been a business format for over 60 years. And this style of business is more than just a booming trend. According to the International Franchise Association, franchise sales account for nearly 10% of private sector output and 1 in 7 US jobs. These businesses are so hot that top business schools, such as Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, are adding franchise classes to their elective curricula, and these classes have waiting lists.
A common potential problem facing business owners, especially those with already lucrative careers, is how will you continue to take care of your obligations while building your dream? Recent research suggests that you can turn dreams into reality by planning your business, researching industries, building your business in stages, and focusing on the many benefits of self-employment. Many day job converts soon realize that you can work hard for someone else or you can work hard for yourself.
I often hear “But, I didn’t take the time to build my nice life to turn around and make sandwiches all day.” Do you want to know a secret? Franchises aren’t just about food anymore. In fact, less than 30% of franchise opportunities are food. This means an incredible range of self-employment opportunities, especially in the lucrative business-to-business professional sector. Surprisingly, there is a franchise for almost any type of business in the US economy. The trick is to choose the right one for you.
With literally thousands of franchises, which ones are on the rise? Which trends seem to be the most sustainable? Is one of these right for you? For 2006, here are the latest trends and opportunities for you to check out:
PETS: The pet industry is hot and Americans love their pets The American Pet Product Manufacturers Association estimates that pet owners are proud to spend $36 billion on luxury products and services to to their puppies, cats and other members of the animal kingdom. With this continued trend of handing out whatever it takes to keep our furry friends happy and comfortable, some specific money makers include dog daycares, walking and sitting services, pet stores, gourmet treats, and mobile grooming from pets
CHILDREN: According to Admissions Consultants in Virginia, competition for college is fierce for several reasons. First, an “echo” of baby boomer births – not expected to peak until 2008 – and immigrant families with teenage children coupled with institutions of learning not increasing the number of places for in freshman classes is driving demand for limited openings. Second, a steady increase since 1970 in college attendance at all economic levels means more kids are competing for limited space at the nation’s best schools.
As a result, the need for supplemental early childhood education programs is growing to ensure that Johnny and Suzy make it to college. Competition among students is not only intense but starts early. In addition, inadequate or second-rate public education adds to the need. Supplemental education includes everything from art classes, science programs, extra math and English tutoring programs, as well as programs focused on physical fitness. And, don’t forget the myriad of sports and fitness clinics that teach better athleticism for well-rounded kids. High school students enrolling in a supplemental review class for the SATs is now common place when it used to be only for high-income families. Now, middle-class families have increased disposable incomes and want similar benefits for their children. It’s a perfect industry for the stay-at-home spouse who loves kids and wants a fun and rewarding part-time business.
FOOD: Quick service restaurants are becoming more and more popular. The National Restaurant Association estimates that sales in 2005 topped $134 billion, up nearly 5% from the previous year. People today want fresh, healthy options that fit into their busy lifestyles. The fast food days of the Golden Arches and the Colonel are fading. More importantly, people are also willing to pay more for these quality options. Baby boomers who grew up eating fast food are now getting older and realizing that a healthy diet can have a big impact on their health. Top trends include salads, soups, sandwiches and other healthy options that make people feel good about their meal and snack choices.
eBay CONSIGNMENT SHOPS: The eBay phenomenon continues as one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. With nearly 170 million eBay users worldwide and growing, an eBay auction business could be your shot at financial success. Almost every household has “stuff” they’d like to sell but don’t know how. With your eBay business, you take the pain out of posting online and getting paid in exchange for 30%-50% of the sale. What a great deal for the franchisee since you are not buying or owning any inventory. And what about potential opportunities to buy and sell anything from cars to designer bags to vintage comics? To ensure success, franchisees receive extensive training on how to value items, “selling strategies” to optimize offers and ways to market the business.
FITNESS, WEIGHT LOSS AND WELLNESS: Many have thought this industry was saturated, but new concepts emerge every year as people are willing to try almost anything to look fabulous. Curves is a runaway success and proof that the search for new approaches to looking and feeling better is never-ending. And why not? Millions of Americans each year start a new program to lose weight, look better, feel better and avoid obesity. Approximately 33% of Americans made fitness their No. 1 New Year’s resolution in 2006, compared to 26% last year. According to the International Association of Health, Racquet and Sports Clubs, health club membership increased nearly 5% to more than 41 million members in 2005. But weight management is not the only definition of fitness and health. Pampering yourself, combining outward appearance with inward attitude, and tackling stress reduction are fueling the rapid growth of day and medical spas. While we are all searching for the fountain of youth, the wellness industry will continue to boom.
SENIOR CARE: 2006 is the year in which the first Baby Boomers turn 60. By today’s standards, 60 is young. But just as this group had an impact on the labor market and the education system, this massive group of Americans will have an impact on resources for retirees and seniors. The majority of the “senior population” chooses not to live in an aged care facility and insists on living in their own homes. While living at home provides a better quality of life and is less expensive than most alternatives, it poses a dilemma for seniors and their families. The collision of aging and independence means that Americans will deal with illness, loss of mobility and the effects of aging, increasing the demand to provide medical and non-medical care at home. Also, some seniors may need a helping hand for a few hours a day, while others will want a full-time arrangement. With this segment poised to explode, franchisors catering to this market offer comprehensive training programs to teach franchisees how to successfully hire caregivers, manage the business and market it in their local areas.
BUSINESS TO BUSINESS: The ultimate bedroom franchise. Small businesses account for 99.7% of private employers and account for more than 50% of non-farm gross domestic product, which is $6 trillion of GDP1. Yes, trillions with a “T”. Of these companies, nearly 70% employ 5 or fewer employees, which means they often can’t afford specialized in-house staff to do everything like large corporations. Consequently, outsourcing to experts continues to be the trend. While some categories are standard such as web design, marketing and advertising, newer ones have appeared such as HR consulting, business consulting and financial advice. For many fledgling start-ups, B2B professional services firms that value the importance of an affordable, top-notch experience and excellent customer service are a brilliant choice.
HOME IMPROVEMENT: Low interest rates, a persistent housing boom and a continued fascination with bringing high-quality entertainment into the home are helping to make the home decorating and remodeling fields stand out. Everything from window fashions to kitchen remodeling, from outdoor decks to specialty stained glass items, create a wealth of options for home improvement. Rising real estate values have created an interesting dynamic: a large group of homeowners who can’t afford to move, but have good equity in their home. Many are taking advantage of their second mortgage and using some of the proceeds to remodel or add on to their home. All of this makes home improvement a continued winner.
Are you dreaming of self-employment? Be your own boss? Make your own shot and collect the fruits? Or is the risk of leaving your comfortable corporate job holding you back? If you’ve read this far, you might be ready to be the next franchise owner.
However, only 3% of small businesses are franchises. Because? Because most aspiring entrepreneurs want to “fly it” themselves. An overwhelming statistic is that 60% of businesses fail after 6 years. Buying a franchise gives the franchise owner a proven profit model and a process by which profits can come quickly. If being self-employed, minimizing risk, using a solid business model with good training and support, and running a profitable business sounds good to you, then franchising is the way to go. Ultimately, you are the one who makes the business successful. You are the one who has to feel good and bring passion to your work. But, you don’t have to go it alone if you buy a franchise.
1: Source: SBA, “Small Business by the Numbers,” June 2004
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