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.
We have 96 units with 86 franchisees. We have been in business for 30 years. We’re in 35 states and Canada, and abroad. We took a concept that was very successful in the suburbs of Chicago and educated ourselves about how to grow a franchise system and support it.
1851: Who is buying franchises right now and what type of activity are you seeing?
Kim Swanson, Director of Franchise Development at Young Rembrandts: The majority of our franchisees have come from corporate America and have varied backgrounds. Engineers, IT professionals, HR, project managers, you name it—they are people who are looking for something other than working full-time for someone else.
1851: What's the number one thing franchisees are looking for in the conversations that you're having with prospects?
Swanson: They’re done with corporate America. They want to be in control of their destiny, have more flexibility and more time with their family. They want to do something that makes a difference in the community and is meaningful to them.
1851: Do you have an ideal franchisee in your system, and what are their qualities?
Swanson: They have strong business acumen, good leadership and communication skills, and strong people skills. They embrace the team-building nature of our business, as they employ part-time art teachers. It’s all about instilling the right tools and training. They embrace a challenge and know how to find solutions. They’re very positive because we deliver a very positive experience for our students.
1851: What's the biggest challenge facing franchise development right now and how are you overcoming it?
Swanson: I’d say the biggest challenge is that franchising can be strong when the economy is not as strong. The fact that there’s a great job market out there right now—we look at every lead that comes through and assess the potential. We get great referrals, which helps. We experience a lot of parents of students and employees of franchisees who want to step up and research the business, and we work with consultant networks too. We really value how they educate a lead before bringing them to us.
1851: What's one thing prospective franchisees should know about your brand and franchising in general before buying?
Swanson: The importance of understanding that you’re following a system. Someone has already gone out to build the system and processes. Your success will lie in embracing the support and resources offered by the franchisor. Those that stay connected and take advantage of the resources are the ones that will find success.
1851: Why should franchisees invest in your industry and in your brand specifically, and why should they invest now?
Swanson: It’s an opportunity to serve their community. Parents are always looking to give their children an academic advantage, and that's what we do. We teach the fundamentals of drawing, but more, the fundamentals of learning are also developed so children have a very positive experience while learning a valuable skill set.