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?
Marcia Mead, Vice President of Franchise Recruiting at Outdoor Living Brands: The people who are buying are in their 30s and 40s and typically from some sort of corporate career previously—marketing, sales and project management backgrounds are good examples. We also have a good amount of veterans in our organization.
1851: What's the number one thing franchisees are looking for in the conversations that you're having with prospects?
Mead: Independence is number one, for sure. They want control of their day-to-day and their future.
1851: Do you have an ideal franchisee in your system, and what are their qualities?
Mead: It’s someone that’s a fast-paced driver who wants to scale a business. All of Renew Crew’s products are eco-friendly, so someone who is interested in protecting the environment is a good fit. Our best franchisees are relationship builders, because a lot of Renew Crew’s business is going back to customers repeatedly. Renew Crew is a reemerging business; we acquired it as a tiny franchise out of Springfield, Missouri, six years ago and turned it into a world-class franchise organization that we relaunched in 2017. We need someone who’s forward-thinking and wants to get in on the ground floor.
1851: What's the biggest challenge facing franchise development right now and how are you overcoming it?
Mead: As a whole, our biggest challenge is that there are 3,400 franchises in our country. I started selling franchises when I was 29—the competition level has increased so much. The number of people who buy every year has not increased, so our challenge is getting in the marketplace.
Buyers have so much more access to information with social media, remarketing, online ads and different portals. There’s so much stuff out there, so for us to be the one that gets their attention, that’s the hardest thing. But once we have their attention, they’re going to love us, so it’s catching and nurturing them properly.
1851: What's one thing prospective franchisees should know about your brand and franchising in general before buying?
Mead: With Renew Crew, when we say it’s a reemerging brand, the concern from a candidate could be that it’s too new. But Outdoor Living Brands is 40 years old—we’re not rookies in franchising. The opportunity for someone to buy into Renew Crew at a low investment is huge because you get all the benefits of Outdoor Living Brands, a 250-location franchise group.
1851: Why should franchisees invest in your industry and in your brand specifically, and why should they invest now?
Mead: For us at Renew Crew, we clean and maintain any outdoor surface. It’s a service everyone needs at their home. No one wants to get a pressure washer out on the weekend and clean their deck. Everybody has a fence that needs stained, a driveway that’s dirty. For us to come and service the general population and provide a maintenance component to make your materials las, the need in the market is there. It’s a low-investment franchise, so a first-time business owner can get in simply. It’s home-based, and it’s a relationship-building business. It offers a lot of flexibility, and it’s a simple business model. It gives people the freedom to be a business owner.