Mobile Franchising: Today’s Business Model
Not too long ago, people who worked from a home office location were considered an oddity and in most cases were never given the respect as a true professional who visits an office building each day for work. Then, along came the Internet and changed our lives in virtually every way imaginable, one of which was the transition to home-based businesses becoming more of the norm and certainly an acceptable way of doing business.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24% of employed people in the U.S. worked from home in 2015, and of those that worked from home, a larger percentage of them were management and professional occupations. So what this means is that many of the most highly qualified people in the workforce are choosing to take their work home with them. This is for obvious reasons I suppose, no traffic on the way to work outside of dodging the kids toys in the hallway and an unwanted visit with the neighbor on the driveway taking the garbage out.
More time in an environment you enjoy in your home and a work schedule that fits your life all lead to what has been found to be more productive workers (2015 studies found a 22% increase in work productivity when staff moved out of the office and into the home with JetBlue, Avaaz and some other firms).
With this increasing trend for people to want to work from home, the mobile service segment of franchising has grown at a rapid pace. Partly driven by today’s professional business owner enjoying the opportunity to work from a home office and also just good business sense. First, what is mobile franchising and what would fall into this category of the franchise market place? It is a comprehensive descriptor for a market segment as it essentially could be any business that takes the services or products to the customer in a mobile format. This could be home remodeling services, construction, in-home senior care, blind sales, pet services, automotive services and a wide range of other industries that have transitioned to mobile “delivery”.
Mobile just makes sense in today’s economy; the consumer is busier than ever, many household are dual-income and don’t have the time to shop or go to retail outlets and with the Internet, people have become used to instant accessibility in anything they do. Mobile franchising has grown primarily due to the customer asking for it. People want services and products brought to them in their home or business.
Next, Mobile Franchising has grown due to the numbers. In any franchise investment, the buyer is looking at a simple equation, how much money needs to go in and how much money can the business put out? The return on investment for a mobile franchise concept many times can easily exceed the return on a traditional franchise model. Without the expense of a retail space, equipment and other costs associated with a traditional business model, mobile franchising numbers can be quite impressive and make a compelling case.
Take a franchise brand, Bloomin Blinds, this is a mobile blind installation and service company who started franchising in 2014. The corporate location consisted of an office space location in Dallas, Texas, owned and operated by a family of entrepreneurs. The corporate business at it’s peak in revenues was able to exceed $3 million and the franchise system has added over 30 units in just over 2 years of offering the franchise concept. The model is simple, low overhead and offers the customer a strong value proposition for both purchasing blinds and maintaining their investment with ongoing service. Franchisees only need to invest in a van, vehicle wrap, marketing and a small amount of inventory and they are in business. Mobility City is a new franchise brand that will be coming to market soon which provides mobile wheelchair repair to customers in their home and again, a business can be opened with just a van and a vehicle wrap. In many mobile franchises, the profit margin can be significantly higher than traditional fixed location businesses as well due to the fact that there is no rent to be paid every month, lower labor and staffing requirements along with other expenses that might burden a business model with fixed costs. Whether it is Blinds or Wheelchair Repair, the financial side of the mobile franchise market offers a low investment, high operating margin franchise opportunity.
Christopher Conner is the President of Franchise Marketing Systems and has spent the last decade in the franchise industry working with several hundred different franchise systems in management, franchise sales and franchise development work. His experience ranges across all fields of franchise expertise with a focus in franchise marketing and franchise sales but includes work in franchise strategic planning, franchise research and franchise operations consulting.