So what do franchise experts predict for 1996?
Don DeBolt, president of the International Franchise Association, foresees a continuing explosion of combination franchises. DeBolt also expects the popularity of nontraditional locations-such as stadiums, department stores, airports and military bases-to grow as domestic markets become even more crowded.
Selden believes there's always going to be opportunity at the fringes of market segments. "For some [franchisors], the really significant growth opportunities are going to come from outside their traditional markets, either in new distribution channels or in trends like coffee and bagels," says Selden.
Franchising will not likely see the passage of significant legislation in the months to come. Kushell, who feels franchisors should self-police, points out that the Republican Congress "is more laissez-faire in their thinking, business-wise"; he believes this will work in franchising's favor in the long run.
Selden takes a longer view of the legislation issue. "The trend of chipping away at the problem of establishing minimum standards of fairness in franchising will continue in 1996," he says. "Sooner or later, franchisors [will] figure out it's in their best interest to get reasonable legislation passed. It makes their franchises better-looking investments."
Whatever lies ahead for franchising in the legislation department, the industry is thriving overall, and if you ask those in the trenches, that's all that matters. With socioeconomic changes continuing to create fertile ground for franchising, Kushell says, "franchising is innovative and creative. I think it's going to go on and live a long and wonderful life."