1851 caught up with the franchise development professionals of various brands to learn more about the state of the industry and their predictions for the year ahead.
1851: Who is buying franchises right now and what type of activity are you seeing?
Bob Johnston, Director of Franchise Development at Fibrenew: A lot of people who are displaced out of corporate America. They’re fed up and don’t want to go back even if they have a job offer—they want more flexibility.
1851: What's the number one thing franchisees are looking for in the conversations that you're having with prospects?
Johnston: Flexibility and freedom. They want more time with their families. They’re tired of being on the road for an hour to work and back. Let’s say their son has a football game that starts at 5:30, but they work until 5—they don’t get back from work in time and have to miss it. We offer a lifestyle franchise, so they can work their schedule around their families.
1851: Do you have an ideal franchisee in your system, and what are their qualities?
Johnston: First, they can’t be colorblind. They work with materials and colors. Second, they’re someone who enjoys working with their hands. We also need people who are not afraid of networking and marketing. What sells our business isn’t someone talking about it—it’s showing before and after photos. Candidates should also be trainable and coachable, as they have to follow our programs and system.
1851: What's the biggest challenge facing franchise development right now and how are you overcoming it?
Johnston: We always want more leads. The way I’m handling that is reaching out more and more to consultants personally. I check in to see how they’re doing to develop those relationships. I’ve been doing this for 27 years, so I’ve built a lot of great relationships.
1851: What's one thing prospective franchisees should know about your brand and franchising in general before buying?
Johnston: Our training and our support are what we hang our hat on. It’s all about training, and when you’re out in the field, you’ll be ready. People say, “I want to go into business for myself, but not by myself.” With Fibrenew, you’ll never be by yourself. You also need to work hard during training and follow the program to be successful.
1851: Why should franchisees invest in your industry and in your brand specifically, and why should they invest now?
Johnston: There’s not a more diversified franchise company out there. Everywhere you look, there’s leather, plastic, and vinyl. No matter what type of building or business we work with, they will have those materials to work with, so the work will always be there.
As for when it’s the right time, if it’s the time in their life when they have the time and want the flexibility, then they’ll know when to dive in. It’s a great opportunity, and the market, for us, is always there. Why work for others when you can work for yourself and make the profits?