When you ask most people what they think of when they hear the word “franchise,” the most common answer tends to be a fast-food franchise, which isn’t surprising. In a recent report from franchising platform Franchise Direct, fast food franchises make up 25% of all franchises in the U.S. The most well-known franchises also tend to be ones with static locations. However, from my position as a franchise coach, I have observed the mobile business model taking off and growing in both popularity among franchisees and success in multiple industries and markets.
Hit the Road
It may be curious why a franchisee would want to operate their business out of vehicles, but there are several benefits to the model that are appealing to the newest generation of business owners and franchisees. Many of these newcomers are former employees who discovered a preference for remote work and were reluctant (or refused) to return to office life. Because of this, many people began quitting their jobs to look for positions that were more flexible about remote work.
Some franchise models fit well with the idea of remote work, one of which is the mobile franchise. It’s a business model which allows you to own and operate your own franchise without needing to invest in an expensive rental, lease, or piece of property that you have to develop yourself. A mobile franchise carries little to no property obligations beyond maintenance of your vehicle(s).
Another benefit to mobile franchising is the ease of upkeep. With a fixed location, you need to maintain your location so that it’s inviting to customers or clients as well as a pleasant place to work for your employees. A mobile franchise doesn’t carry these long-term obligations. As long as your service vehicles are kept in good repair and have a clean exterior, you’ll look good to customers and your staff can take pride in their equipment.
A Bump or Two in the Road
Of course, no franchising model is perfect. When it comes to mobile franchising, visibility is one of the toughest hurdles. Traditional storefront businesses have the benefit of a sign, a façade, and other attention-grabbing features. Lacking this, it’s important for a mobile franchise to invest in good marketing programs to get potential customers’ attention. Wraps around vehicles with the franchise’s phone number, email, and website are helpful, as well as a strong internet presence. For mobile franchises that rely on walk-up business, like food trucks, any website created should have a route with locations where the trucks will be on a given date.
Perhaps the biggest factor in visibility is how much a franchisor or franchisee is willing to spend on marketing and advertising. Skimping on the marketing and advertising budget means it’s not likely it will attract much business. But it’s not just money that matters. A franchisor or franchisee needs to invest the time and effort to build business relationships as well. Finding reliable suppliers, making connections both in the industry and in local business communities, and joining local organizations are all important to helping any franchise establish itself and grow.
Plenty of Makes and Models
Mobile franchising is proving suitable for a wide range of different industries and business ideas within those industries. Probably the first one that people think of when thinking of mobile businesses is the food truck. These franchises can make a good living on both driving regular routes (like an ice cream truck) and providing concessions during special events like fairs, carnivals, and outdoor expos.
The home services industry is another viable one for mobile franchises. Because the majority of these services are performed at the customer’s home, there is little need for a brick-and-mortar shop. Lawncare services, interior or exterior cleaning services, roofing repair services, appliance repair services, all of these can be run from service vehicles that transport tools and materials to the customer’s house.
Small-scale delivery and shipping franchises can also operate as a mobile franchise, or one whose “home office” is in digital space. Moving services are one such business, as well as parcel delivery services. And of course, independent food delivery franchises really came into their own with the pandemic, providing restaurants that didn’t have a pre-existing delivery service to serve customers without needing an open dining area.
The Road Ahead for Mobile Franchising
From my observations, franchising is growing to fill in gaps and provide services for people where there didn’t used to be anyone to serve them. I expect to see more home services branching out into mobile franchising, including more contractor-based services like insulation and fencing installation. As technology evolves and reduces space requirements for things like administrative functions, it will do away with the necessity for large amounts of office space and enable remote management.
Franchising has been refined as a business model in recent years. With time and experimentation, proven methods have emerged, making operations more efficient and predictable. As technology advances, I foresee mobile franchising being the vehicle to many franchisees trip down the road to success.
Rick Bisio is one of the country’s most respected franchise coaches and author of the Amazon best seller, The Educated Franchise – 3rd Edition. Since becoming A Franchise Coach in 2002, Bisio has assisted thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs nationwide helping them explore the dream of business ownership. www.afranchisecoach.com