The Year In Franchising: Reflecting On 2021, And Anticipating 2022

Over the past two years, the world has changed in ways it never has before, and the franchise industry is no exception. It has taken a while, but following the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2022 is positioned to be a massive year for franchise development and sales growth. First, as we wrap up 2021, let’s take a look back at how the franchise industry has adapted to the ups and downs of the past year.

2021: A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Following the unprecedented challenges of 2020, this year saw a steady return of in-person events and the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines. Several people and industries started to see a much-anticipated comeback and recovery in the beginning of 2021.

There were certainly still some challenges for franchisors especially on the retail and restaurant side. This included geographic limitations, where certain areas were still heavily locked down and others weren’t, forcing some restaurants to operate without full indoor dining and some retail stores to operate with restricted capacity.

As the year progressed, more people became comfortable with traveling and spent more money at businesses. It also made it more challenging for businesses in certain industries to satisfy this pent-up demand successfully due to complicated in-person requirements. Additionally, business owners have had to adapt their operations to combat the ongoing labor shortage, resulting staffing issues, supply chain interruptions and product shipment delays.

Much has changed for the foreseeable future, there’s no doubt. That said, in 2021 franchise brands have continued to rise above the challenges and seen growth in their systems overall.

2022: An Opportunity for Franchising to Emerge Stronger Than Ever

2022 will likely be a tremendous year for the franchise industry as a whole with a majority of individual brands set to prosper both in terms of system wide sales and franchise development. Many franchisors have been reporting increased sales in 2021, and there is no reason to believe that trend is going to change in 2022. Additionally, the International Franchise Association predicts franchise development is also on the rise with 26,000 franchised locations expected to be added in 2021 and franchise employment projected to grow by more than 10% to nearly 8.3 million workers.

The sector that is positioned better than any other is home services. With more people spending increased time at home and saving money on travel, the demand for home services and home improvement has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. As a result, more and more savvy entrepreneurs are recognizing the uniquely lucrative opportunity to enter the home services space.

Some of the other trends that will likely continue in the franchise industry include prospects investing in concepts sight-unseen. Candidates are more comfortable now meeting online than ever before, and development teams have learned how to adapt and appeal to a prospect’s comfort level.

Technology, of course, has also brought on several changes to the industry. Whether it was Zoom meetings, curbside pickup or QR codes, these new digital tools have helped businesses get by and drastically changed the landscape of the industry. These will all continue to be a huge trend in 2022 as brands adapt to challenges including the evolving workforce and supply chain issues.

Overall, it has been a long and difficult time, but the franchise industry has made it through to the other side. Now, as more and more people look to take control of their destiny through entrepreneurship and customers return to their pre-pandemic habits, it is an incredibly exciting time to be a part of the franchise industry.

I am Steve Beagelman, Founder and CEO of SMB Franchise Advisors. In 1991 I co-founded Black Tie Express, a multi-restaurant delivery service.

Source: The Year In Franchising: Reflecting On 2021, And Anticipating 2022

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