Think of franchising and the first businesses that typically spring to mind are fast food chains and cafe bars, but other sectors are ripe for growth using the franchise model. Here are eight of the most promising areas
1. Health and social care
Caring for the elderly is a huge growth industry as the population ages. Care franchises are helping to meet this demand, looking after people in the comfort of their homes. Franchising suits this sector as the franchisor can oversee the complex compliance needs of this heavily regulated area, while the franchisees can stay close to the local community. For instance, Home Instead Senior Care offers franchises in areas containing 25,000 people over the age of 65, which it says allows franchisees to create a sizeable business generating considerable revenues. Other providers include Caremark, Bluebird Care and Right at Home.
2. Children’s services
Keeping kids occupied is a huge challenge for parents. So running activities for preschoolers and organising extra-curricular fun for school-age children is a boom area. Even babies are catered for. Franchise businesses specialising in music, drama, dance, sports and other activities are springing up across the UK. Swimming schools are particularly popular, with franchisors such as Swimtime, Water Babies and Puddle Ducks. Little Kickers offers football training for children between two and four years old, while Stagecoach offers theatrical training. These businesses often attract parents who want to run a franchise while supporting a young family. Other firms in this sector include Monkey Music and Premier Sport.
3. Food and drink
From burgers and pizzas to fine dining and organic food deliveries, there are mouth-watering opportunities for franchises in the food and drink industry. Britain’s high streets are crowded with franchises offered by the likes of McDonald’s, Subway, Costa Coffee, Harry Ramsden’s, Domino’s Pizza, Marston’s and Papa John’s. They have used the franchise model to grow quickly, offering brand recognition and consistent standards. Many of these franchisors encourage multi-site ownership rather than single units, which incentivises franchisees to improve their performance as they can make significant rewards. This can involve a substantial financial investment, though mobile food and vending franchises can be bought at lower costs.
Britain’s booming property sector has created a strong market for letting agency franchises and many of these are moving into sales. Large franchise operators such as Belvoir, with more than 150 franchises across the UK, compete with smaller operators. The key to success in this market is creating trusted brands employing people with local knowledge who can build strong relationships. Some franchises in this sector are now publicly listed such as Martin & Co, now listed as The Property Franchise Group. There are also associated markets, for instance for sale board services such as Agency Express and property investment companies like Platinum Property Partners. Other leading estate agent and letting agent firms include Northwood and Reeds Rains.
Gyms are big business in our health-obsessed society and are an ideal sector for the franchise model. A mixture of homegrown and US brands are expanding across the UK and around the world. Anytime Fitness recently opened its 3,000th international club in the UK. Franchising allows gym businesses to grow more quickly and cost effectively than by buying company-owned sites. Health and fitness appeals to a wide range of franchisees, such as former sports people and athletes, as well as entrepreneurs. Leading firms include Anytime Fitness, Fitness4Less and Energie.
6. Pet care
The British love their pets and the £5-billion pet care market offers a wide variety of franchising opportunities, covering everything from food, nutrition and training to grooming and holiday care. These franchises will take your dog for a walk, deliver food for a hungry rabbit or look after your cat when you go on holiday. As ever, strong local knowledge and relationships are key to the franchising model in this sector. So a dog holiday business operating in a remote location won’t know its customers as well as a local franchisee. Leading firms include Oscar Pet Foods, Barking Mad, Wagging Tails, Dogknows and Petpals.
Demand for cleaning services have boomed in recent years and have survived the downturn to offer serious business operations for franchisees. From getting the stains out of your sofa to giving your oven a good clean, these services are much in demand from cash-rich, time-poor households. Commercial cleaning services are also on the up. These highly local services have benefited from the franchise model as they are based on relationships with local businesses and households. Leading commercial firms include Minster Cleaning Services, while for domestic cleaning there’s Molly Maid, Bright & Beautiful, Oven Wizards and Chem-Dry carpet cleaning.
8. Hair and beauty
This is a fast-growing area with new brands frequently launching in the UK. Brand loyalty is very important for consumers in these fields. Franchising allows rapid growth without dilution of quality. Opening company-owned salons everywhere would prove expensive and slower, and franchisees achieve better results because they have a vested interest in the business’s success. Leading firms include Toni & Guy, Saks, Rush, Guinot, Francesco Group, No + Vello.