If you pay attention, you’ll notice that the franchising industry as a whole changes each year. Sometimes it’s the businesses that are hot right now that make the trends, while other times it’s technology or regulations that shift how those in the franchising industry do business. Here are a few of the franchising trends you should pay attention to in 2016.
1. Chip Cards Will Be the Norm
Thanks to a regulation last October, all businesses are required to have new credit card terminals that include a slot for the new EMV chip cards. While there’s no penalty for not having the new terminals, realize that if a transaction ends up being credit card fraud, your bank or merchant card processing company will no longer cover the expense. The liability is all on you.
How to ride the trend: If you haven’t yet gotten your new terminals, now’s the time. Don’t put your business at risk by not being able to accept the new cards.
2. The Affordable Care Act Will Turn Some Franchisees on their Heads
Thanks to new updates in the Affordable Care Act, businesses (including franchises) with 50 or more employees are required to offer employer-sponsored health insurance. That means franchises that didn’t offer it in the past will be required to, or face a penalty fine. This comes at great cost, and many franchisees may reconsider expansion as a result.
How to ride the trend: Read up on the ACA to see if your business is required to cover employees. The last thing you want is a fine.
3. Franchisors are Moving Toward Sustainable and Organic Food Suppliers
Here’s a trend we like to see: franchises giving the boot to cheaper and unhealthier food ingredients like corn syrup and non-organic items. Within the next 10 years, McDonald's plans to move to solely cage-free eggs. Starting this year, Subway will source only antibiotic-free beef. We expect this trend to trickle down to the smaller franchises this year as well.
How to ride the trend: If you run a restaurant franchise, consider riding this wave. Not only will you help make your customers healthier, but you’ll also attract a more health-conscious customer.
4. Franchises Will Get Non-Traditional with Real Estate
Real estate is, by far, the largest cost for franchisees, especially if location matters for foot traffic. But there’s a growing trend of franchises sprouting up in smaller drive-thru locations, as well as inside big box stores (think: Starbucks inside Target or Vons).
How to ride the trend: If premium real estate is beyond your budget, get creative about where you set up shop, and look for interesting partnerships.
For the most part, the trends for this year are positive. We look forward to seeing them in action!
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She’s written three business books, including How to Get More Customers With Press Releases, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.