Millennials have franchise executives scratching their heads as they try to figure out how to position their franchise opportunities to appeal to this generation of new franchise owners. Just think of the size of this group from age 18 to 35 years old and you will get a clear picture of the opportunity for the franchise organizations that can cater to them.
Recently many franchise industry executives have been asking me how they can focus on the needs and concerns of the millennial candidate to get the competitive advantage. This is a big topic in the franchise industry due to the reality that Millennials are a big category of franchise owners and buyers and have a much different way of doing things. Here is what we have found to be their priorities:
- Purpose Driven Work
The business must have a meaningful cause or purpose. This can be a variety of company cultures that make the world a better place. It is a big mistake to lump this group in to the “kids that all won participation medals” and assume that they are entitled or lazy. I have found that it is important to this group to spend their time doing work that has a positive impact on others. Franchises that have clear and concise missions that include “giving back” are a big plus.
This generation has been raised with technology that has made lifestyle very flexible. Online meetings, classes and mobile devices have enabled them to have far more control over their day-to-day schedules. This also has made it easier to become more efficient. Companies that offer flexible scheduling are finding that the staff is more satisfied with work. There are many new technologies available today to make this process more efficient. As a rule of thumb, the standard 9:00 to 5:00 schedule is looked upon as a negative to most millennial buyers.
- Technology Friendly Lifestyle
The integration of technology into the daily operation is a must. The creative franchise companies are innovating tools and technologies to increase the effectiveness of the business while embracing the franchise owner and customer needs and expectations. Some old school thinkers see cell phones and other electronic devises as a distraction in the workplace. Many forward thinking franchise companies are not only allowing device use at work but are fully embracing them as tools to increase productivity. Some examples include communication between employees and management, dispatching and even customer review and ordering.
Collaborative workspaces are booming all over the world. Business owners are now working in open air hubs that encourage sharing of ideas and resources. Franchise owners seldom get together with their peers so forming a community is more difficult than other business models. The key to building a thriving franchise community always begins with the leadership. The company leaders need to have an intentional and specific commitment and plan. Using technology can help this effort by hosting regular online meetings and training sessions. Offering a collaborative platform that allows the franchise owners to interact socially as well as business related is effective as well.
The majority of Millennials would rather own and operate their own businesses as apposed to working for someone else. We live in a far more entrepreneurial age these days. The barriers to entry have come way down over that last decade making it more common for individuals to start a business rather than taking the more traditional job route. Many Millennial adults have grown up with parents that owned a business, which makes it even more realistic and appealing for them to launch a new business venture. They also prefer a coaching environment instead of the typical “boss and employee” model. This is great news for forward thinking franchisors that offer this kind of support to their franchise owner communities.
The franchise brands that fully embrace the needs and concerns of the millennial generation will realize much more of the market share. I recently met with a very successful businessman in his early 30s. He has a great business and thrives as a business owner by making the most of the available technology tools. He said “I may work 12 hours one day and four hours the next day depending on the opportunities that day produces. I would hate to be tied to a desk all day.”