Top 3 Franchise Opportunities in Washington State for 2017

With 2017 just around the corner, I want to share with my readers the top 3 franchise opportunities I see in Washington State at the start of the new year.

Boutique Fitness

The big-box gyms are now considered dinosaurs in the booming industry of personal fitness and healthy lifestyles. Personal training studios show amazing and rapid results…and at the same time build a sense of belonging and loyalty due to their interactive, community-based nature.

As per capita, disposable incomes rise in both urban and suburban areas of Washington state, more individuals have the financial resources necessary to join instructor-led kickboxing, spinning, pilates or HIIT classes.

Over the next several years, the growing elderly population will be integral to driving demand for yoga memberships. Yoga has been directly linked to improving elderly patients’ sleep quality and overall quality of life. Lack of sleep among geriatric individuals translates to greater risk for numerous health problems, including physical and psychiatric morbidity. Hence, many industry-watchers believe healthcare providers will increasingly start prescribing yoga to their older patients.

Similarly, Pilates has become very popular with urban women as a low-impact exercise. Many studios now offer “fusion classes” by combining Pilates with other exercises under the guidance of accredited instructors.

Merchandise sales, like clothing, mats, and equipment, offer another revenue stream.

Historically, January is the strongest month for this industry due to resolutions and the weather being more conducive to indoor exercise in Washington and much of the United States.

Key success factors in this industry include a good location, effective marketing by creating attractive packages, driving referrals among local clients, and recruiting and retaining top instructors.

Boutique fitness is well suited for semi-absentee owners with the skill set to effectively lead a general manager responsible for membership and day to day operations.  A common mistake to avoid is focusing on training background vs. a sales background.  Sales drive the business.

Fast Casual Food

Eating habits are fast-changing as consumers have become increasingly health conscious, demanding alternatives to traditional fast food options. Although major fast food chains have grudgingly responded by slashing prices and adding healthy items to their menus, they have been much slower than the market itself. Also, several of the largest fast food chains have shifted growth focus outside the US, further creating a vacuum that has led to the emergence of “superfood cafes”.

The potential is really strong in more upscale neighborhoods where the median household income approaches or exceeds $100K.

Franchisors in this category sometimes seek candidates with food experience, though it is not critical to success.   It requires actively keeping track of sales and inventory to understand what is selling. The owner needs to respond quickly by ordering more of the big sellers and scaling back those with lower turns.

The cost structure is much lower than traditional casual restaurants given the relatively lower need for trained manpower.

Hair Salons

It is not just a haircut anymore!  Regardless of income, everyone needs a haircut every five weeks, making it one of the most recession-proof businesses. The “look good, feel good, perform at your best” trend has taken hold of barbershops and salons.  Additional services such as straight razor shaves, manicures, and men’s coloring are a few of the additional services growing in popularity.

Salons upsell a variety of high-margin hair and skin care products to a “captive audience”. This can be up to 15% of their total revenue.

Add to that the amazing potential to market the services through huge platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Yelp. After all, it is about making clients look their best.

Increased sophistication among the buyers has led to the emergence of specialty salons catering to men and children.

Employing trained, licensed staff allows the owner to run the business on the side, in a semi-absentee ownership model. With a strong location and brand, hair care is one of the best and fastest growing franchise opportunities in Washington.

These franchise opportunities are especially attractive in the Puget Sound and Spokane markets due to regional demographic and economic trends and relative lower penetration (vs. California, for example).

I will be happy to share more of my research and specific openings with those who are considering any of these franchise opportunities in Washington. Please connect with me here.

Dec 20, 2016