Some of you reading this might recall 1992 and the Queen’s speech referring to that year being “annus horribilis” I would think most of us reading this article right now would agree that 2020 would seemingly be on par with the Queen’s thoughts back then. Nobody would ever think that what has happened this year was even possible, lets alone the effects that came to life.
As this article is being written, breaking stories of two of the high streets more prominent players in really serious trouble, thus impacting on tens of thousands of jobs and also, and indeed at the worst possible time, this will have a short and medium term impact, but, no doubt, there will also be the longer term implication of empty high street sites.
An Empty High Street Is Not Good
And yet, despite the doom and gloom, there does appear to be some optimism! The Pandemic does, at least for the moment, show some signs of slowing, there is plenty of talk about a good enough vaccine, and a roll-out could begin within a few short months.
Let’s take the positives then! 2020 has been very strong for the franchise sector, with more enquiries all round than historic records show, whether it is people looking to buy a franchise or businesses looking to maybe pivot, and create a version of their own business as a franchise opportunity, and indeed overseas brands looking to enter what they believe is the safe haven that is in the UK, yet, is there still a further opportunity?
Could Franchising Be The New Darling Of The Economy?
Things will undoubtedly change moving forwards, online has thrived during these uncertain times (it was on an upwards curve anyway!) Delivery has almost become widely accepted as standard now, the way we shop and become accepted of change has happened at a rapid pace, however, has our need for an experience just being heightened?
A few years back, the high street was attacked for being more of ‘Clone Towns’ this thinking will change with some dying businesses falling by the wayside now, so, could things be about to change?
There Is Pent Up Demand!
Some of the experiences we had previously got used to became the norm, visiting our friends and family, going to the cinema, just sitting in a coffee shop and relaxing with a hot drink, browsing the shops, clothes shopping and because these are largely experience led, the demand will not go away, it never will in fact, it is a well-known fact that the human in us craves this to survive, arguably one of the reasons we work…to then enjoy the experience, I bet you cannot wait to have this option again can you?
Franchising Can Play A Huge Part Now
Historically each franchise system operates individually, and there is little evidence to suggest that this will change, but can the franchise sector be more concerted in their efforts to unite, here are a few suggestions for further consideration:
- Competing and non-competing food brands (for example) can complement each other- either by driving more traffic or creating further choice to generate footfall into specific areas like high streets
- Larger high street units can be split to either zones or split unit spaces to ensure high fixed costs are kept low to ensure long term economically viable, but again to create more choice which is proven to drive footfall
- Franchising can be a great alternative to employment (granted, not for everyone) but with so much support, such as the well backed Government Start-Ups Scheme, options are there to help people transition if they are made aware
- Some home-based franchises can fuel the appetite for the new work-life balance that has recently been thrust on us all, but only if people are educated on the prospect, strangely enough, some business concepts that maybe were not suitable to be operational from home historically, are now having to!
- And last, but no means least, the franchising community has at long last its best chance to have a real voice that can truly be heard, the ins and outs of franchising in the UK is still little known, ask the majority of the public and the thought is that franchising is still reserved for the big corporates, unbelievably, there are still only around 1000 different franchised concepts in the UK, this is massively drawfed by most other developed countries, yet, this is the time and place where lots of individuals are on the look-out, yet they simply do not realise that franchising is a real possibility for them
As we draw to a close for the end of the year, I would personally like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year, thank you for taking the time to read my articles, I do hope they spark a debate at least, keep well, keep safe and let’s smash it together in 2021!
Richard Pakey is a franchising expert and Regional Director for the award-winning Lime Licensing Group and can be contacted in the following ways:
Mobile/text/whatsapp: 07904 697591