Franchising predictions from 2024
Published January 4, 2024

12 Franchising Predictions for 2024

Franchise thought leaders share 12 things they think will happen in 2024

2024 is sure to bring significant change and adaptation, and franchising is bracing for a year of strategic shifts and renewed focus. I asked some franchise thought leaders to share what they think will have the biggest impact on franchising over the coming year. These are the themes that emerged.

1. Economic cooling will result in slower decision-making.
While the economy is stable, there will likely be a continuation of the current cooling-off and slowing trends, but not a significant drop. Election years bring anxiety, which tends to make people more cautious in making decisions and spending money. With economic uncertainties slowing down new deals, franchisors will focus more on enhancing support and profitability with existing franchisees to support growth.

“I think 2024 is going to be a “Flat“ year, I see things already cooling off and I believe that we will continue to see a slowing trend, not a drop, just a slowing. Also, it being an election year generally creates a bit of anxiety as people are waiting to see the outcome of the primary process and campaigning process and then of course the election in November.”

John Francis, ZorForum

“Acknowledge the uncertainty, and then create certainty. The increasing expense associated with gaining access to financial capital, coupled with the other inherent risks, adds a weighty consideration for entrepreneurs contemplating the venture into business ownership—there is no reason to think this will change much in 2024. Introducing a presidential election into this equation amplifies the possible complexity and uncertainty. Amidst the looming financial and economic apprehension, the trust found in reliable relationships will become a brighter guide. In essence, the satisfaction and success of existing franchisees can serve as your proverbial north star. A content and prosperous franchisee base markedly heightens the probability of them advocating for others to join them. Referrals from happy and accomplished franchisees align seamlessly with the ideal profiles sought as they not only come with similar skills and strengths, but also the diminished likelihood of slowing or halting the discovery process before the finish line.

This next year our strategic approach will involve fostering greater certainty in our pipeline by populating it with candidates who harbor pre-existing familiarity and trust in the brand, having witnessed the journeys of their friends unfold. These candidates are much more likely, regardless of the storm, to step out of their employee boat into the employer waters.”

Brad Fink, Christian Brothers Automotive

2. A “back to basics” approach to business operations.
Fundamental business skills—sales, service, quality, margins, profitability, and training—will take center stage.

My thinking is 2024 will be a focus on “back to the basics”. That’s been a topic I’ve been hearing on several board meetings and coaching calls I’ve had over the past few weeks here at the end of 2023. As people are seeing things cool off and slow down they are focusing on protecting what they do have, and making sure they can execute to stay competitive. Focusing on sales and service and quality and margins and profitability and training and basics never go away. Reinventing the fundamentals to be more solid and consistent is what I’m seeing. I expect that will be the trend for 2024 and I’m looking forward to all that and beyond!”

John Francis, ZorForum

3. Employee retention will be critical to accelerating growth.
Employers will need to focus more on engaging employees and organizational culture in order to reduce time spent on hiring and onboarding and increase time spent on building the business.

“Retaining your current workforce is going to become more important as we head into 2024 with a still uncertain economy and consumer spending much lower than this time last year. Business owners should focus more of their time on retaining current employees and therefore less backfilling turnover, allowing them to spend more time on customer leads and sales efforts. Investing in software to help bolster the employee<>organization connection is a trend you should expect to see more of in franchising for 2024.”

Jenny Leman, CareerPlug

4. Storytelling will be key to breaking through the noise.
We will see an increasing focus on human-centric marketing strategies to create authentic connections with customers.

“Even more noise will be let out into the world in 2024. Your prospects are bombarded with noise from companies and brands 24/7. Hubspot says the average person sees over 10,000 ads per day —PER DAY—and it takes them seeing your brand 12 times before they even write back to you. So how do brands not get caught in that noise? Well, they tell stories.

Stories drive 95% of our decisions (Harvard)—it’s not logic. It’s true, real human stories. My prediction for 2024 is that the brands that want to “keep things the way they have always been” and keep using stock footage and scripted animated videos will start to lose in the marketplace. The franchise brands that focus on telling real stories with the best medium around, video, will win in the end. This is franchisee validation videos, on site customer testimonials, giving back videos and more—just always be telling stories.

People remember how you made them feel—that’s the classic quote. So, is your marketing making them feel something?”

Trevor Rappleye, Franchise Filming

5. Traditional marketing is cool again.
In response to the saturation of digital content and AI-generated material, there will be a return to more personalized and direct marketing strategies.

“I have a new hashtag I’ve been using and its #corduroymovement because just like Corduroys are coming back into fashion (yuck) I think so is “old-school” or traditional marketing opportunities. Everyone is talking about AI—and while it isn’t going anywhere, I think we are seeing a HUGE amount of content flooding the internet, advertising, and websites right now and it’s almost too much. I think marketers and brands need to really take a close look at their marketing budgets for 2024 (especially with the election year coming) and think about what consumers NEED to see. It might be going back to mailers, radio, or even some OTT advertising to find the right audience.”

Ali Kraus, Benetrends

6. A more strategic focus on multi-unit expansion.
More brands will be zeroing in on selling multi-packs.

“We are seeing multi-unit opportunities explode like never before. So many brands are only selling in multi-packs and this is something we are excited about because we have opportunities to structure funding plans around the ability to grow as a franchisee and open businesses over a course of 5 or more years. We are looking forward to going to Franchise Update Media’s MUFC event in Vegas because the focus on franchisee expansion is growing year after year.”

Ali Kraus, Benetrends

7. Increased adoption and influence of AI.
Franchisors will use artificial intelligence to enhance efficiency and customer service.

The most significant positive influence on the franchising industry will undoubtedly be artificial intelligence. This transformative technology is poised to enhance every facet of business operations, elevating efficiency, augmenting customer service, and empowering franchisors to provide superior support to their franchisees.”

Evan Hackel, Ingage Consulting

In 2024, the integration of AI in lease documentation is set to revolutionize how franchises handle their real estate assets and contracts. Natural Language Processing (NLP) will help expedite the extraction of pertinent information from lease documents, contracts, and other complex business documents, boosting efficiency and accuracy. This will enable franchise owners to dedicate more time and resources to strategic decision-making, allowing for a more proactive approach to lease negotiations, compliance monitoring, and business management in general.”

Taj Adhav, Leasecake

8. Joint employment will impact how franchise systems do business.
Stricter rules will be a wake up call for franchisors to reevaluate their franchise relationships, franchisee support, and brand standards.

Conversely, the aspect most likely to negatively influence franchising centers around the concept of joint employment. The real concern here isn’t the legal aspects per se, but rather an exaggerated response to them. At its core, franchising is a training-centric business, with triumph resting on the quality and effectiveness of this training. Allowing apprehensions about joint employment to overshadow our actions could diminish our training excellence and thereby undermine our overall success.”

Evan Hackel, Ingage Consulting

“…the shadow of more stringent controls on the independent contractor relationship and joint employment looms a little bigger and darker than in the last several years. I predict the result will be twofold: 1) Some brands may be discouraged from launching into franchising and 2) existing brands will reevaluate their position on joint employment. Some have been lax (as evidenced by the content in their manuals) and seem to be taking it seriously now. Others are telling me they are now committed to training their support staff on the dangers involved, the innocent mistakes, and ways to avoid them while remaining a great resource for franchisees. I believe there will be more of that and that it will ultimately be good for franchising by refocusing franchisors to return to their core businesses and not stepping into questionable and expensive practices simply to remain competitive. It’s not a death knell, but it is a wake up call that can be handled and mitigated no matter which way the law(s) go. We can still grow and create lots of opportunities for people—just as we always have.”

Mary Ann O’Connell, FranWise

“The joint employer issue is back in full force to ring in the new year. Franchisors need to examine their brand standards and franchise relationships in light of the NLRB’s proposed new joint employer rule, which will expand who qualifies as a joint employer under the National Labor Relations Act. The new rule would remove the requirement to demonstrate direct control over the essential terms and conditions of employment for a joint employment relationship to exist and would allow such a finding upon the indirect potential to exert such control. In large part, franchisors have done a good job over the past few years to make sure that they are steering clear of employment matters in implementing brand standards. However, any franchisors who may have relaxed their vigilance on these activities in their franchise agreements, manuals, policies, training programs, and software, etc. need to refocus their efforts to make sure their activities won’t run afoul of the NLRB’s new rule.”

Marisa Faunce, Plave Koch

9. Women will be an even greater driving force in franchising.
A greater number of women in leadership positions and more attention to the needs of female consumers will continue to increase the visibility and importance of women in our community.

As 2024 unfolds, franchising is not just riding the wave of change—it’s being steered by dynamic WOMEN leaders. (Inspired by icons like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, who’ve rocked the economy with their groundbreaking tours.) Women in franchising are now grabbing the mic more than ever.

Consumer Revolution: Franchises are finally tuning into women’s needs, and it’s not just good karma, it’s GREAT business. Watch as they turn pain points into touchpoints, building loyalty that rivals a Swifties fan club.

Collaboration Over Competition: Gone are the days of pitting women against each other. Instead, we’re seeing a sisterhood of franchisees and franchisors, syncing up like a well-orchestrated Beyoncé dance routine. Teamwork of womanhood in franchising is UNBELIEVABLE.

Flexibility and Purpose: Women are swapping rigid corporate ladders for franchises that dance to the beat of flexibility, purpose, and empowerment.

In 2024, women aren’t just leading the charge in franchising; they’re rewriting the playlist.”

Ingrid Schneider, Stay in Your Lane

10. Emphasis on franchisee support and profitability.
With economic uncertainties slowing down new deals, franchisors will focus more on enhancing support and profitability with existing franchisees to support growth.

A slow down in awarding franchises will force franchisors to think differently about what they can do to grow their business. Instead of growing by adding units, they will recognize the hidden profitability they can unlock in their system by focusing on franchisee support. This will uncover the need for professional development opportunities for field teams (Field Coaches, FBC’s, Area Managers, etc.). Field teams will need to learn how they can coach franchisees to get out of working IN their business so they can work ON their business and grow. They will also need to sharpen their human skills (otherwise known as “soft skills”) so they can really move the needle with franchisees.”

Angela Cote, AC Inc.

11. Increased interest and involvement from private equity.
Private equity’s role and support infrastructure will shake up franchising.

In the buzz of 2024, it’s like Private Equity walked into the franchising party, and everyone’s dancing to a new beat. Brands are shaking hands with investors, and guess what? The backstage crew—the support infrastructure—is getting a makeover. Profit margins and franchisee support are going to share the stage now more than ever and will shape how franchisors and franchisees grow.”

Madeleine Zook, FranCareers

12. Franchisees will play a starring role in building brand loyalty.
Franchisors will need to support franchisees to create authentic customer connections.

2024 is a time when everything is literally at our fingertips, and a single click can have anything delivered to our doors in a matter of hours. In this time of increased competition, it is imperative that businesses have an intensified focus on building brand loyalty. Franchisors must play a role in helping Franchisees develop a plan to cultivate deep, authentic connections with their customers. Every retail experience should be marked by more than just customer satisfaction—taking every opportunity to turn an ordinary customer into a loyal brand ambassador. Businesses must tailor every interaction to create a positive experience time after time, again and again. This level of devotion to a positive customer experience, must be a standard that a Franchisor holds to each and every person who stands behind the brand name. As trends continue to show the progression of cautious spending habits, prioritizing customer satisfaction will prove beneficial as shoppers make choices as to where to purchase items they need.”

– Rhea Lana Riner, Rhea Lana’s Franchise Systems Inc.

From the cautious economic stability in an election year to the dynamic resurgence of traditional marketing methods, 2024 is poised to be a year of opportunity and cautious optimism. Insights from industry leaders paint a picture of a year where “back to basics” is a mantra, where storytelling becomes the heart of marketing, and where the role of women and AI in leadership and operations cannot be understated. Each theme encompasses the challenge and the immense opportunity to innovate and grow this year ahead.

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About the Author: Michelle Rowan

Michelle is the president of FBR, the former Chair of the International Franchise Association’s Women’s Franchise Committee. and a Certified Franchise Executive. She is the recipient of the 2022 Crystal Compass Award, has facilitated CEO Performance Groups and Executive Networking Groups and is also a mentor of UNH college students. When she is not at work she is usually reading, playing outside, or hanging out with her husband and daughter.
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