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The franchise landscape is changing as entrepreneurs get younger and more diverse than ever before — a shift that can be partially attributed to the ongoing “Great Resignation.” During the pandemic, women left the workforce in droves to take care of their children when schools closed and required virtual learning. Many professionals also felt as though they had no control of their situation as layoffs soared and government restrictions kicked in. As women decide their next steps, they, and many other professionals, are using this as an opportunity to switch to a more flexible, more rewarding career that gives them more control over their futures.
A recent Wall Street Journal article highlights the Bureau of Labor Statistics report that more than 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021 and says workers — especially, but not only, the young — began quitting their jobs in hopes of better conditions or opportunities. Franchise ownership is one of those better opportunities for this younger generation.
This has become evident in recent years, as Brandon Gaille research from 2017 shows that most franchise owners were between 45-54 years old, and recent data from Zippia.com shows that the average age has dipped down to 44 years old.
Over the past five years at Kiddie Academy Educational Child Care, franchise inquiries have changed from owners who were in the later stages of their careers to people switching to franchise ownership mid-career. The average Kiddie Academy owner inquiry is now from people in their late 30s to early 40s. We’ve also seen applications begin to come more from professionals with backgrounds in healthcare, event planning, technology, education and more, looking for a chance to become their own bosses. It’s a paradigm shift that’s transforming the franchise business model and how we must attract a new franchisee demographic.
Millennials’ values are attracting them to the franchise industry
Franchise Insights says that millennials are leading baby boomers in seeking out franchise ownership opportunities and rank second only to Generation X. Because of this, franchise organizations need to find ways to attract a younger audience by focusing on ideals and benefits that are important to this group. And due to the pandemic and The Great Resignation, more families in this age range are looking for the ability to have flexible income and to mesh home life with work life.
Not even five years ago, many childcare franchisees were seeking to transition from their corporate career and begin to plan for what retirement might look like. Now, people in the earlier stages of their careers with young children, who desire flexibility and a way to make a difference, have been rising to the top of inquiries.
Franchising is a great way to localize a large brand, leveraging the resources of a network of businesses to make a local impact. According to Gallup, millennials are also looking for ways to create an impact on their communities, so the franchise model provides the perfect vehicle for making a difference. At our franchise, we’ve found having benefits in place that support these aspirations is important to attract this generation of franchisees. Our Community Fund is an example of this effort, where teachers and staff at Academy franchise locations are offered financial support during times of hardship through grants.
We must transform the franchise business model for millennials
At the corporate level, franchise organizations need to take a good look at their policies and values and use insights about millennials to shift support to those priorities. Focusing on the flex benefits of franchising combined with cutting-edge technology, the opportunity for entrepreneurship and a strong income at an early age are all things that can combine to create a desirable opportunity for millennials.
Highlight the impact the business has on its community. Use technology and design to make the business what consumers are looking for with apps, two-way communication tools and more. Meet millennials where they are online in places like Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat. Help them connect with people who can support their vision. Combine all these elements together, and the franchise model will be more attractive than ever to the newest group of up-and-coming franchisees.
As The Great Resignation continues to transform the professional landscape, the franchise industry must be ready to receive and grow a new and diverse demographic of leadership. When franchisors can position their companies to appeal to millennials’ wants and needs like work-life balance, community impact and strong employee benefits, they can tap into this incoming generation of franchise ownership.