What Franchisees are Looking for in the New Year
What Franchisees are Looking for in the New Year

Consumer trends will help businesses boom in 2019, franchisees say.

This past year was an eventful one for the franchising industry.

Between the Papa John’s scandal, the no-poach policy changes in the fast food segment and the plethora of brands that embraced popular consumer trends such as easier online ordering and delivery, 2018 was filled with many changes that promise to continue to influence the franchising industry in 2019.

1851 Franchise spoke with different franchise brands and garnered their thoughts on trends that they expect to see in 2019.

Dan Barton, founder and president of the pet brand Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique, noted that millennials have become a prime focus for the brand. Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique is located all over the United States and plans to continue expanding in the California market, the Texas market and everything east of the Mississippi.

“The pet industry has been dominated by the baby boomers, however in the last year, year and a half, there’s been a huge shift to the millennial population,” Barton said.

About a year and a half ago, Splash and Dash began to shift their focus towards the millennial market, as millennials have become the biggest spending segment in the industry, Barton said.

The company is focused on keeping in line with millennial desires, such as providing healthier and greener products.

Last year, Barton said, the company changed the look and feel of all of the locations and gave them a modern look.

“We brought in a lot of natural materials, a lot of woodgrain-type countertops,” Barton said.

The pet brand also launched its own line of products called “Keepin’ It Simple,” which requires that each product is made in a USDA-inspected facility, be made of seven ingredients or less and is composed of human grade ingredients, “meaning that the ingredients that go into it could be eaten by a human,” Barton said.

From a consumer perspective, Barton anticipates the millennial influence will continue to grow each year.

“That’s a huge opportunity for us,” Barton said.

Reggie Thompson is a franchisee with Le Macaron. He owns five Le Macaron franchises - three in Jacksonville, Florida, one in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and one in Savannah, Georgia. He opened his first location in February of 2017.

“When we first opened, people were kind of a little bit hesitant or tentative,” he said, adding that the concern was about money, not about the product.

In 2018, though, Thompson has seen consumer confidence pick up, and said people have “a little bit more money to spend.”

The consumer concern had nothing to do with health issues about indulging in a sweet treat, he said.

“Early on it was a money concern,” Thompson said. “That has changed. The health concern, we addressed that over time. We have an excellent product. It’s gluten-free, it’s about 80 calories and it’s all-natural.”

One thing Thompson has noticed are increasing numbers of in-person shoppers. In other words, instead of opting to just purchase gifts online, his stores are seeing more people physically go out. He expects this to increase in 2019.

“I see more shoppers,” Thompson said. “I’m really starting to see that pick up. I realize while people are still on the internet and they’re getting home delivery, I’m starting to see people get out more and congregate a little bit more and I think the malls are going to start drawing some of them back. I’ve already seen that. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by both of our mall locations. They’re doing well. I didn’t expect that whatsoever.”

Whereas people were more likely to stay home and do their shopping online two or three years ago, people now want to get out again, he said, “even if they just go out to window shop.”

He pointed to Le Macaron’s multiple revenue streams, which include gelato imported from France, pastries that are baked fresh daily and chocolates that are handmade and handpainted. Such a variety of products helps set Le Macaron franchisees up for success.

“We like the trends we see, and we expect them to continue,” Thompson said. “We don’t see anything out there that’s going to slow anything down.”