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With Unemployment Claims at a Record High, Franchising Continues to Offer a Path Forward for Prospective Business Owners

Certain brands are poised to offer a more financially stable future.

More than 3.8 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total of unemployed American workers seeking benefits to more than 30 million.

This is a record-high unemployment rate in the U.S., and as such, it brings to light the benefits of franchising versus going into business alone or simply working for someone else. Not only do franchisees benefit from the support of their franchisors, but, if they are deemed essential businesses, they can continue to serve their communities and generate revenue. 

One franchise that has seen a surge in business during this time is the junk removal business 1-800-JUNKPRO. With so many people forced to stay at home due to social distancing rules, more people are cleaning out their homes and desire this kind of service. 

“Since everyone has been urged to clean their environments due to the COVID-19 breakout, we’ve seen a rapid increase in the demand for our services,” 1-800-JUNKPRO CEO Mike Davis said. “Though the demand is high, we did not jump on the proverbial bandwagon and raise our prices. We want to be able to service our local communities and help out the best way we know how — by removing junk.”

Another franchise brand that offers a recession-friendly franchise model is digital advertising franchise Runningboards Marketing, which is based out of Watertown, New York. Runningboards Marketing uses the digital advertising vehicle DAV (pronounced “Dave”) to display brand messaging and customizable graphics. DAV is equipped with high-impact LED screens that display eye-catching graphics, often with catchy accompanying music, and drives around markets to target specific audiences. 

What helped the brand stay open at this time and be deemed an essential business was its willingness to display public health messages in addition to client ads. As a business opportunity, Runningboards Marketing boasts a relatively low entry fee with few fixed costs. Not only that, but franchisees can start off with just a salesperson and a couple of drivers. The franchisee can even fill the role of salesperson if they do not want to hire someone else for that role, and they can also run the business out of their home. 

“We really are a simple, low-overhead business,” General Manager Chris Mooney said. “If things get tight, there’s not too much to cut.” 

While DAV can run business-related messages that advertise services, he can also simply offer positive, uplifting messages, including birthday shoutouts, which Mooney deemed important.

“It’s at a time like this when people need to send a message out,” Mooney said. “We’ve always been a community-based business. We’re involved with the local chamber of commerce, and we reached out to the city council, to Jefferson County, to Samaritan Medical Center and the United Way of Northern New York to run messages for them. We are doing this work pro bono, but you never know what doors that’s going to open. We’ve really been able to help the community out at this time.”

Then there are business opportunities with brands such as the retail franchise Batteries Plus Bulbs. The nation’s leading omnichannel franchise retailer of batteries, specialty light bulbs and phone repair services quickly adapted to the coronavirus pandemic and related social distancing guidelines by rolling out curbside service for all products and services at its more than 700 locations across the U.S. 

“Staying open was not a financial decision,” CEO Scott Williams said. “It’s about taking care of our customers, especially when some of our customers are healthcare workers, first responders and families who are taking care of others and serving their communities.” 

The quick shift to curbside service solidified franchisee trust in the brand and the leadership team’s support efforts. Also, there’s no denying the importance of the products themselves: Keeping devices such as tablets and phones charged at this time helps families work from home and stay entertained as they remain cooped up indoors. 

“Our franchise value proposition has never been stronger,” Chief Strategy Officer and Vice President of Franchise Development Jon Sica said. “Our specialty retail model and ability to adapt has enabled us to continue expanding as a brand through recessions, natural disasters and now global pandemics. Providing stellar customer service and expertise has always been the primary driver of our business. That’s how we win against e-commerce and big-box competitors every day, and it’s why we continue to be a destination for customer essentials even during a major life disruption like COVID-19.”

By offering essential services that provide value in any economic climate, franchise brands such as 1-800-JUNKPRO, Batteries Plus Bulbs and Runningboards Marketing prove why they are here to stay.