As you have surely noticed, COVID-19 has affected nearly every aspect of our daily lives. As health guidelines suggested near-immediate changes to our usual behaviors, business outlooks changed just as rapidly. Despite those challenges on a broader scale, there have been some companies that have thrived on providing essential products and services. For example, manufacturers of disinfectants and hand sanitizers saw plenty of demand in the past year. Restaurants with established branding and delivery options have been some of the most successful franchises in the pandemic, thanks to the need for contactless service.
While essential businesses have fared well during the pandemic, there are still a variety of brands maintaining their success and many who bring plenty of optimism into the coming year. Once the pandemic is finally behind us, there are a few types of franchise businesses I believe could be in for a major comeback. It may not be immediate, but the post-pandemic demand will be there for certain businesses that have not been able to provide the public with their services.
Event Planning Franchises
One of the most striking differences between pandemic life and the previous “normal” has been the need for distance. That means an inability to gather together for a year’s worth of celebrations.
Throughout the past year, we all saw and even maybe participated in virtual or drive-by birthday parties, weddings, and graduations. Once it becomes safe for the public to confidently return to congregating in crowds, the event planning industry that struggled to survive the pandemic will suddenly be in high demand. That could continue indefinitely for as long as the desire to finally celebrate something lingers.
When lockdowns began in earnest a year ago, fitness centers received much of the notoriety for the inability to do business. We saw and heard how much interest people had in finding ways to stay healthy while health was at an absolute premium. Though at-home workouts boomed, and consumers searched for ways to burn calories at home, it is clear there’s a desire to return to gyms once the risk of COVID-19 is minimized.
Still, despite the less than optimal climate for gyms, some fitness centers have managed to expand during the pandemic, and even for the ones that haven’t seen all that much growth, it just seems like a safe bet that many fitness buffs who are stuck inside their homes will be quickly signing up for a membership as soon as they can.
Granted, the biggest movie theaters tend to be chains, but there are some franchised theaters like K9 Cinemas, a movie theater where you can bring your dog, and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a dine-in movie theater. Variety magazine, among others, has predicted big pent-up demand for in-person events like movies.
There is no doubt that Hollywood and movies are changing — the window between releasing a movie in a theater and then offering it to streaming services will likely be shorter than ever (and has, at times, been non-existent during the pandemic). These are unnerving times for theater owners. But there is a tremendous and loyal customer base for movies, and it could be worth considering for at least the short term.
Many salons and barbers have remained open throughout the pandemic, and some have done pretty well. Industry reports still show salons and spas growing over the next several years, at a compounded annual growth rate of 4.7 percent.
In short, salons, spas, and barbershops are not going anywhere. People can only cut their hair in the mirror for so long.
I would expect, once people have been fully vaccinated, that salons, spas, and barbershops will be operating at full capacity. Though a spa may not seem like the perfect opportunity today, it could be when considering where things may be months down the line.
In some cases, it could seem like certain retail franchises are actually essential. As with the several business opportunities listed above, there is sure to be some pent-up demand for all manners of retail. One major factor to consider, however, is what lasting impact the pandemic has regarding the increasingly accelerated popularity of online shopping.
Whether for clothes, tools, or any other manner of product, e-commerce is surely here to stay. But that does not mean retail franchises cannot be successful, particularly if the products they provide lend themselves to in-person evaluation. Think about the desire many shoppers have to try on their clothes before purchase rather than ordering, trying on, and then having to return poorly fitting items.
There is also the consideration that many of these stores have been able to open in some capacity, provided customers wear masks. For some, that has been enough to survive. However, any further return to normalcy could prove to be an opportunity for success.
Reason for Optimism
In short, as you can probably tell, I’m pretty enthusiastic about many of the franchises that were doing well before the pandemic. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should ignore any impacts the pandemic had on a certain industry.
If an industry struggled during the pandemic, that may understandably signal to you that you’d rather invest in a franchise that customers felt was indispensable during the pandemic. If one brand did poorly but other brands didn’t, then that may suggest the franchisor has some work to do before people should feel comfortable becoming a franchisee.
In any case, the franchise market is still an area providing plenty of opportunity and optimism. There is a lot to be said for a business that is considered non-essential but proved its customers’ loyalty. The next step is to simply capitalize on the opportunity ahead of us, building on the lessons of the past year.
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