Opportunity Knocks for Franchise Entrepreneurship in 2021

Feb 16, 2021

IBA, as the premier business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest, is firmly established as a respected professional service firm in the legal, accounting, banking, mergers & acquisitions, real estate, and financial planning communities.  Periodically, we will post guest blogs from professionals with knowledge to share for the good of owners of privately held companies & family owned businesses. The following blog article has been provided by Curt Maier. Mr. Maier, is the Vice-President of Business Development and the Head of IBA’s Franchise Brokerage Division at IBA (www.ibainc.com):

Opportunity Knocks for Franchise Entrepreneurship in 2021

It has been a long economic winter, almost a year, in the Pacific Northwest due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has impacted the business operations of companies small and large from the local pub where we watch the Seahawks to Boeing, the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world.  The good news is with increased knowledge about the virus, distribution of the vaccine, and appropriate public policy guidance related to “best practices” for community health that the economic ice is beginning to break, green shoots are starting to emerge, and businesses are welcoming back employees and customers to enhanced live engagement.

Unfortunately, the harsh economic winter created by COVID-19 did substantial damage to the small business community resulting in death or fatal damage to many retail, education, and service sector businesses.  It is with great sadness that my visits to retail centers, former favorite restaurants, industrial office parks, or driving by preschools and daycare facilities finds many businesses that have permanently closed or are in the process of liquidating their assets.  Each of those businesses will be missed by their customers and employees and not soon forgotten.

However, similar to the return of spring foliage and flowers after the winter demonstrating a fresh start and opportunity for growth and optimism, entrepreneurial opportunities are starting to return in the small business community.  One significant opportunity created is the unexpected availability of quality vacant spaces in high traffic retail environments at better rent rates than have been available for years in the region.  These vacancies create opportunities for new products & services to be introduced to communities by entrepreneurs.  If you need a referral to a knowledgeable, experienced commercial real estate broker to help you secure a desired space, let me know I am very well networked in the CCIM community, the best of the best in commercial real estate in the United States.

Entrepreneurs are risk acceptant and resilient by nature. In Q4 2020 and early 2021, IBA has experienced a strong desire to take action by this demographic group.  Action has taken the form of parties buying businesses, expanding existing businesses to new locations, and people evaluating franchised business opportunities as start-up possibilities.  Franchises are attractive to entrepreneurs because they offer a proven business model with an established support system that is ready for deployment at a desired location in a matter of months creating an unique time & place opportunity in a post COVID-19 world to pick up a previously unavailable high visibility, high quality locations in areas with superior demographics and infrastructure.  Imagine picking up a restaurant location with a state of the art kitchen, including costly ventilation and plumbing tenant improvements, or a former preschool facility with an established playground facility already in place for the cost of committing to a five year lease versus the expense associated with building out a vanilla shell location while simultaneously committing to the same lease terms.

The advantages of being self employed include leadership, independence, and financial achievement.  Franchises offer the ability to do that without the need to create a business plan in the segment of the economy best tailored for an individual’s knowledge, experience, passion, and skill set.  A great neutral venue to educate yourself on franchise opportunities is Franchise Business Review.   The following is their list of the top franchise opportunities for 2021:   Top 200 Franchises of 2021 (franchisebusinessreview.com)  I am confident that a business model appropriate for every entrepreneur can be found on the list.

IBA is unique in the United States as we are one of the few business brokerage firms that has franchise broker certification as part of our in house credentials.  I am proud to be the lead individual at IBA related to new franchise sales.  I am affiliated with The Franchise Brokers Association (www.franchiseba.com) and represent for sale a high quality selection of the most successful and desired franchised business opportunities in the United States.  I welcome the opportunity to educate entrepreneurs on the advantages of franchise ownership while also providing comparative analysis of the alternative opportunities of business start-up and buying an existing business.  One of my personal favorite demographic groups to work with on franchise acquisitions, as a former U.S. Naval Officer, are veterans.  In addition to FBA, I am an active member of VetFran (https://www.vetfran.org/), an organization specializing in helping people transition from active service to entrepreneurship as a career path.

It takes sunshine, water, and good soil for plants to grow in the spring.  A quality franchised business model and excellent location are the start for entrepreneurial success.  However, like water for a young plant, a business needs sufficient capital and financial resources to grow and thrive as it evolves from start-up to mature business.  Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are often an important resource for laying a foundation for success with a franchise or business acquisition.  Another advantage of working with IBA is our ability to source capital from the most experienced, knowledgeable bankers providing the highest level of customer service.  In all my years as a business and franchise broker, I have never seen lower interest rates, mitigated origination fees, and programs, like the six months being offered at the start of many SBA loans where interest and principle payments do not need to be made or repaid, that are presently available in the market.  I anticipate these programs will disappear in the 2nd half of 2021 as the economy strengthens, so the benefits of these programs will only be received by those with a higher risk acceptance tolerance who are ready to execute before the programs encouraging early adoption to increase consumer confidence disappear.

One of the market segments I have targeted for 2021 as a quality entrepreneurial opportunity to potentially own a franchise is the cannabis industry. Like it or not national legalization of marijuana is coming (House Passes Landmark Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana – The New York Times (nytimes.com)) and it will be a significant national industry in the future.  IBA is a market leader in facilitating the sale of cannabis industry businesses and it is natural for our representation to extend to cannabis industry franchises.  We are currently representing a cannabis dispensary that had gross revenues in excess of $4 million in 2020 in a prime demographic area in the Seattle metropolitan area and a scientific lab in Oregon that tests product for pesticides and impurities. The following are a few of the retail cannabis franchises that I have identified for potential evaluation by buyers.  6 Best Marijuana Dispensary Franchise Opportunities for Sale – ProfitableVenture

The United States economy is bouncing back.  The United States GDP is anticipated grow over 4% in 2021 (WSJ Survey: U.S. Economic Growth Will Exceed 4% in 2021 – WSJ).  New economic life is beginning to be seen throughout the Pacific Northwest region.  An opportunity exists to be an early participant in a recovery that will gain momentum throughout this year.  No one benefits more financially than business owners in an economic recovery.  The ice is melting.  The question is will you watch the Pacific Northwest economic garden spring into activity with bird song filling the air or will you grab a hoe, plant some seeds, and start to harvest your own crop.

If you have questions relating to the content of this article, the process associated with buying a franchise or business, Curt Maier would welcome the opportunity to talk with you.  Mr. Maier can be reached at (425) 454-3052 or curt@ibainc.com.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, mergers & acquisitions, and real estate communities on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.