January 15, 2021

How will franchises fare in the post-Covid world?

by Claire Simmons – In Home Care  founder and director

According to a study conducted by King’s Business School, two-thirds of entrepreneurs felt they would not be able to survive the pandemic, with a poll by the Federation of Small Businesses suggesting two out of three companies believe trading will only get worse .

However, for all the upheaval, the franchise model and its importance for aspiring business owners, appears to be bucking these trends.

Home care franchise In Home Care is not only weathering the Covid storm, but is continuing to extend its network of branches. Director Claire Simmons gives an insight into why the franchise model holds hope for aspiring entrepreneurs post-Covid and how In Home Care continues its growth plans.

There is no doubting that Covid-19 has changed our lives in one way or another. From being seen as a perk, working from home is now essential in keeping businesses operational and there has never been a greater need for clear communication. The pandemic has also forced many of us to reconsider our plans for the future, especially when it comes to starting a new business venture.

Statistics from the British Franchise Association (BFA) and HMRC reveal that franchisees of strong, well-organised franchisors are up to five times more likely to stay in operation than a completely new start-up , though of course, that does not necessarily mean that independent businesses are doomed to fail.

What has become more evident throughout the pandemic, though, is the importance of the franchisor-franchisee relationship. Unlike setting up a business from scratch, franchisors provide their new additions with all the tools they need to make their business as successful as possible, based on the franchisee’s skills and capabilities. Here at In Home Care for example, we assist our new franchisees in getting registered with our regulatory body and provide ongoing training at both our dedicated facility in Waterlooville, Hampshire, and the local branch.

Being able to run what is essentially a unique entity but with the backing of a respected, established brand, with plenty of support in growing the branch, is one of the main appeals of the franchise model. And there is little doubt that it will become all the more crucial in the post-Covid business world. While there will always be a need to demonstrate commercial acumen and knowledge, franchising does offer a viable alternative for those starting a new business.

What may have changed in the wake of the pandemic is that there is now greater unity amongst franchisors. Trade bodies such as the BFA, combined with representatives from the wider industry, have shown immense resolve in providing training and continuous support to franchisors, which can then be shared with franchisees.

For us here at In Home Care for example, video training conducted over Zoom has proved to be effective in keeping our managers up to speed with the latest guidelines in safe working and how to protect their individual teams of carers. Alongside this, we have offered internal support for employees feeling overwhelmed or stressed as a result of the pandemic.

Back in 2011, In Home Care set out to ensure the most vulnerable members of the community had access to the best possible care from the comfort of their own homes.

That has, and always will be, the In Home Care way. By sticking to this principle, we have continued expanding our franchise network, affording each addition the same high level of support as we would expect to deliver to our customers.

In the past two years, we have completed six franchise deals, with three more expected to be finalised by the start of 2021, taking our brand and expertise to Essex, North London, and the Republic of Ireland.

Franchising has not been immune to the challenges of Covid-19. But there have been some outstanding success stories. Online education, for example, has seen a surge in demand as schools closed their doors and even pet care franchises have become beacons of hope for aspiring franchisees with demand increasing in the wake of the first UK lockdown in April.

There is still great uncertainty on the exact impact Covid-19 will have had on the franchise industry. However, with the pandemic causing many of us to consider our futures and plenty of examples of resilience, there are early signs that franchising’s future is looking bright.