No matter how long you’ve been a franchisor or franchisee, you’ll be aware that the ups and downs of an ever-changing economy can have a big impact on business. That’s why keeping track of trends in the marketplace can be so useful for those looking for franchise opportunities or setting up a game plan for the year. No matter what kind of marketing strategy might have worked in the past, there’s no guarantee that anything will remain stable in the future. Keeping track of what’s happening with money, business trends, and technology will help you get a leg up on the competition by preparing you for what comes next. If you’re looking to choose a franchise to purchase or just trying to get on top of your business strategy for 2018, here are a few trends to watch.
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1. Hiring Will Be on the Rise
We’ve already seen a dip in unemployment rates early in the year. While low unemployment isn’t always a great thing for franchises, it’s usually a sign of a healthy, thriving economy to match the rising cost of living. There’s also a trend in flexible hours and part-time work carried over from 2017 that could benefit a growing business if used wisely. If you plan to expand your business, you’ll need to plan on hiring not only more men and women on the ground, but a larger sales team, skilled marketing strategists, and even a few interns to help out with building the brand’s social media presence. While all of this translates to upfront expense, the systems a hiring streak will put in place will last you through the year, helping you grow and expand your brand message easily and painlessly.
2. Social Media Will Continue to Hold Sway
Whether you decide to hire someone full time or integrate social media duties into your marketing plan, having a thriving social media presence is going to continue to be a huge asset to business growth. Not only will you be better served by putting more time (and money) into advertising via online platforms, it will help a lot to diversify your ad placement and create specific, tailored ads and sponsored posts for each platform. For instance, using mobile-optimized, interactive ads on platforms like Instagram and Twitter will help more users engage and connect without being turned off by overt brand messaging.
3. Marketing and Sales Will Be Central to Success
If there’s one area of your business where you invest extra cash and manpower this year, it should be your sales and marketing team. While it’s crucial to have a great onsite team to make your brick and mortar stores run smoothly, having a strong sales team will help you plan out a cohesive strategy for further growth. You can have a great business with a product people love, but if you can’t position your brand in the right way, it could end up catching up with you sooner rather than later. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the product will advertise itself. Put together a team of experts who will work to craft an irresistible story about your brand, whether to advertisers, sponsorship partners, or your consumer base at large.
4. Manager-Run Businesses Will Thrive
The first few years of starting up a franchise can be difficult for higher-ups when it comes to finding a groove. From balancing initial franchise costs to hiring the right team for each location, there’s a lot of potential for things to go wrong. However, once you find the people you trust, your growing pains will start to disappear. In the next year, businesses with great onsite management and a highly regimented order of business will thrive as new customer experience apps and review sites continue to gain traction. Having a great manager at each location to put out fires and attend quickly to customer service hiccups can help your brand avoid problems before they start. Even if you don’t fully have a vision for the future of your franchise yet, if you put together a team in each location that works like clockwork, your business will seem to run itself, giving you the time to think big and remain unbothered by the day-to-day problems of management.
5. Cybersecurity Will Be a Priority
No matter what you’re selling, if your customer base feels their information isn’t secure, your business will suffer. In the next year, many websites will start taking extra precaution against hacks and cybersecurity breaches. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting to arm your business against data thieves and hackers.