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: What's the number one thing franchisees are looking for in the conversations that you're having with prospects?
Erin Zide, Director of Franchise Recruitment at Outdoor Living Brands: Really, it’s to be in control of their own destiny—I hear that more and more every day. And flexibility, I think. Times have changed, and flexibility is something people really cherish now. It’s important to be there for their children and work the long hours on their own time. They’re still willing to work hard, but it’s a different expectation than it used to be. It’s no longer that 9-to-5 mentality.
1851: Do you have an ideal franchisee in your system, and what are their qualities?
Zide: People usually hear Outdoor Lighting Perspectives and think that they need to be technical. But we know how to train people, and we actually like people who are new to the business. I’ve been an owner myself since 2000, and I can tell you I don’t install lights. We’re looking for a salesperson, a networker, an entrepreneur. It only requires a small team of people, so someone who can lead and really enjoys getting out there with their clients is key.
1851: What's the biggest challenge facing franchise development right now and how are you overcoming it?
Zide: Funding, not because franchisees are incapable of getting the proper funding, but more so the learning curve of how to get through that process and the lack of timing and speed that comes with that sometimes. They want to get going and hit a good season, so we have wonderful third-party lenders that are very good at walking people through that process. So we help them overcome those hiccups.
1851: Why should franchisees invest in your industry and in your brand specifically, and why should they invest now?
Zide: This industry is one that I’ve seen growing over the last 19 years, and it keeps growing more and more. People are enjoying their homes more than ever, and with LEDs, we’re getting more opportunities. Now we’re lighting entire homes, including outdoor living spaces. Holidays are a priority, and hotels, restaurants and golf management associations are interested in our services. They want smart lighting with energy-saving alternatives. Lighting used to be an afterthought, but it’s now one of the top three design elements in any space. It gives us a massive opportunity to get out there, build those relationships and get the job done.