Generally speaking, mobile businesses aren’t a new phenomenon in American culture. For decades, we’ve had mobile newspaper stands, food vendors, and household service providers like plumbers and electricians. In fact, most people can remember the music that played from their local ice cream truck, or if you speak to people from an older generation, they might be able to tell you about the days when even doctors made house calls. But at some point, these examples became more of the exception than the rule. Mobile franchises, on the other hand, have taken this old concept and transformed it into some truly unique business opportunities.
Depending on where you live, you may have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of mobile franchises that have appeared in your area throughout the last decade. This business model initially became most prevalent in large cities where store-front space can be pricey and the busy lifestyle led to an increased demand for more convenience, but now mobile franchises are finding success in cities and towns all across the country. I sincerely believe that this business model is one that is here to stay and this post is geared towards explaining why that is.
But, before we get started, I wanted to let you know that this post will be the first part of a two-part series about mobile franchises. Be sure to come back next week to find out more about what you need to be aware of before you invest in the mobile franchise model.
Why we will continue to see an increase in the number of mobile franchises:
From my experience working with mobile franchises, the increase in the popularity of this model is really driven by five things: affordability, flexibility, simplicity, technological advancements, and the ability to meet market demands.
As far as affordability goes, owning a franchise can be an expensive endeavor. To become a franchisee in some systems, your initial investment may be tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of dollars. It is safe to say that not everyone has that kind of money. Mobile franchises are considerably different in this regard because they lower up-front investment costs. This opens the franchise market to a whole new economic demographic that traditionally would not have had the opportunity to become franchisees, while simultaneously tempering the overall risk of investment. But, what makes this model so much more affordable?
Well first, and most obviously, mobile franchises don’t have the general overhead costs associated with owning or renting office space. For many small businesses, the cost of a mortgage or rent payment (along with various types of property insurance and general maintenance fees) is one of the largest monthly expenses. In mobile franchises, this amount is replaced with the cost of purchasing and operating an adapted vehicle, which is typically much less expensive.
Another reason that mobile franchises are more affordable than traditional franchises is because mobile franchises typically employ less people. Generally, most mobile franchises are able to be completely operated by a one or two-person team, whereas you might need five or more people to operate a traditional franchise store-front. Less employees means less overhead costs and greater profit margins.
Relatedly, the affordability of mobile franchises can make financing these endeavors easier. Therefore, the affordability factor will continue to play a key role in helping the mobile franchise model gain popularity.
The next factor that will help increase the popularity of the mobile franchise model is the flexibility of this system. Oftentimes, the interest in operating a mobile franchise comes at least in part from the desire to have more flexibility and control over our daily schedules. Although not every franchisor of a mobile system will allow this kind of flexibility, this is one of the few business models that does typically allow more freedom in this area of our lives.
It is no secret that many Americans struggle to find what we like to call a “work-life balance.” In my interview a few weeks ago with the founders of Rusty Lion Academy, we joked about how a work-life balance doesn’t really exist for anyone. In my opinion, this is partially because the nine-to-five work schedule utilized by most businesses does not accommodate the needs of a majority of employees.
For example, many employees struggle to pick children up from school in the afternoon when they are required to be in the office until 5 PM. Or, scheduling simple appointments with doctors or dentist may require an employee to miss a half-day or more of work, which may or may not be covered by paid time off. These kinds problems lead a lot of individuals to want to be their own boss and is at least partially why we are hearing more about “home-based” businesses.
For these folks, mobile franchise models may offer a solution to this problem. Mobile franchises offer a unique opportunity in the realm of flexibility because the franchisee is not typically tied to the exact same schedule every day. Instead, many mobile franchises operate on an appointment basis, especially in service related industries. When mobile franchisees aren’t at an appointment, they aren’t tied to an office at a specific business address. As a franchisee, this means that you may have the flexibility to stagger your appointments throughout the day to better meet your personal needs.
It should also be noted that there are a growing number of mobile franchise opportunities for part-time and seasonal work. These options generally offer the same flexible scheduling opportunities for those looking to increase their incomes on a part-time basis, but are unable to commit to the traditional demands of night-shift and weekend job positions.
Another great aspect of the mobile franchise model that makes it so popular is its simplicity. By their very nature, mobile franchises are simple in terms of services offered.
In terms of simplicity, mobile franchises have found ways to meet and exceed consumer expectations without including a lot of bells and whistles that traditionally take up space. Most mobile franchises do not offer a wide range of services, but don’t make the mistake of believing that this means they skimp on quality. Generally, mobile franchises have simplified their business model in such a way that their services offer affordability, quality, and convenience to consumers.
For example, if you compare a mobile food truck to a traditional fast food restaurant, you will most likely find that the food truck offers less menu options. The food truck will have a less diverse menu because storage and cooking options will be limited compared to a fast food restaurant that will have industrial kitchen and storage options. But, by focusing on doing a few things really well, mobile franchises have simplified their business model in a way that makes sense for the confined space. The simplified business model will also generally lead to less complex operating procedures, too.
Another factor that I believe is leading to the raise of mobile franchises is technological advancements. Technology is constantly becoming more compact and mobile friendly. Mobile franchises have been keen to pick up on and incorporate these trends in multiple ways.
First, mobile franchises are making use of mobile technology like laptops and cell phones. Whereas businesses were previously tied to some hard-wired location, technological advancements have made it possible for businesses to operate anywhere. For example, the development of mobile credit card processing apps has helped mobile franchises transition from a cash-only business to one that can reach a wider audience.
The second trend in technology that is beneficial to mobile franchises comes from the ability to make things smaller. Mobile franchises are particularly adept at making traditionally large, industrial grade equipment smaller and ergonomically designed to fit into limited spaces. Everything from toolboxes, to storage units, to mobile dog-grooming stands can now fit comfortably into well-designed vehicles.
Ability to Meet Market Demands
Finally, the last factor that I think will continue to contribute to the raise of mobile franchises is their ability to meet market demands. In this regard, mobile franchises are finding great success by offering both unique services and convenience.
First, mobile franchises are able to meet market demands by offering unique services. From mobile fitness studios, to cleaning services, to repair and maintenance shops, to pet-care amenities, and just about everything in between, mobile franchises are capitalizing on offering services in niche markets that may not have typically been able to survive the overhead of operating store-front locations.
Secondly, as life gets busier, there is a serious market demand for more convenient options. Mobile franchises are capitalizing on this by bringing services straight to the door of the consumer.
For example, let’s say you have a large piece of furniture that you need to have repaired. If you don’t own a vehicle large enough to move the piece, you’ll need to rent a trailer or some other vehicle that will allow you to take the piece to a repair shop. Of course, if the repair shop is only open from 9 AM to 5 PM, you’ll either have to take off work or wait for the weekend. Then, once the repair is done, you’ll most likely have to rent another vehicle to move the piece back home. What a hassle! But, guess what? There are mobile franchises that have developed a business model to solve this problem by sending the repairman and his tools straight to your door at a time that is convenient for you.
In conclusion, I truly believe that the mobile franchise business model is one that we are going to be seeing around for a long time due to affordability, flexibility, simplicity, technological advancements, and the ability to meet market demands. Although I do believe this business model has a lot of positive aspects, I hope that you will tune in next week for part two of this series to find out more about what you need to be aware of before you invest in the mobile franchise model. As always, I hope you found this article helpful and if you are ready to speak with attorneys who are knowledgeable and experienced in franchise-related matters, visit our Contact Us page to get in touch and figure out how our office can help you achieve you franchise goals.