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'More Crucial Now Than Ever Before,' The Biggest Franchise Trends of 2023, According to 17 Top Franchise Executives From AI to a surge in chicken—here's what needs to be on your franchise radar.

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Is being a franchisee in your future? Whether you've always been an entrepreneur or you're looking to leave the corporate world, franchising has long been a proven path for aspiring business owners.

It offers the opportunity to leverage established brands, operational support, and a tried-and-tested business model. But like any industry, franchising is not immune to change. It adapts and thrives on innovation, consumer preferences, and market demands. That's why understanding emerging trends and staying ahead of the curve is crucial for both franchisees and franchisors.

In the era of constant technological advancements and shifting consumer behaviors, read on for what 17 franchise executives believe will dominate the franchise landscape this year and beyond.

Related: We've analyzed mountains of data for thousands of franchises and found the best opportunities for you in 2023 in our 44th Annual Franchise 500 Ranking.

Cultivating and enhancing customer experience

"We believe one of the biggest trends for franchising will be amplifying the focus on creating an immersive and welcoming customer experience. Consumers today are looking for more than just a product or service — they want a personalized experience tailored to meet their specific needs," says Jennifer Durham, the Chief Development Officer of Hand & Stone.

Jeremy Vitaro, the Chief Development Officer of Little Caesars agrees: "In the competitive world of franchising, providing a great customer experience has always been important. However, enhancing this experience is more crucial now than ever before. Consumers are becoming increasingly discerning and demanding, and businesses that fail to meet their expectations will struggle to remain competitive. As franchisors navigate through 2023 and beyond, exceeding guests' expectations will be essential to stand out and thrive."

Services becoming easier and more readily available

"In 2023, we believe one of the biggest trends in franchising will prove to be an increase in on-demand services that can easily be booked from a mobile device. As technology progresses, customers expect exceptionally convenient self-service experiences as well as the benefit of multiple channels of client communication when choosing a home service provider," says Faisal Khan, Chief Information Officer at Home Franchise Concepts. "We are confident this trend of self-service (and on-demand service) is something that will continue to develop, and franchisors must be flexible in their approach in order to stay competitive with the ever-changing digital landscape of business."

Related: How to Write a Business Plan for Your Franchise

Small businesses will join the franchise landscape

"As the home service industry continues to grow, we will also see smaller regional brands join the franchise space to scale across the country and capitalize on this hot franchise sector. Small businesses are the backbone of our country's economy and since the onset of the pandemic, there's been a resurgence of entrepreneurs looking to follow their dreams of owning a business they're passionate about. These types of franchises will continue to grow throughout 2023," according to the CEO of Authority Brands, Craig Donaldson.

The pet industry will continue to grow

"As of this year, about 66% of households in the United States own a pet, and that number is expected to rise. With pet ownership increasing, we're seeing an uptick in demand for convenient and accessible services that will provide high-quality care for these animals. Franchises in this space are already reaping the benefits, expanding their services across the country to meet the growing need of pet owners to help them ensure the health and well-being of their animals," says Elliot Rosenbaum, Chief of Staff at Authority Brands.

Larry Amos, Senior Vice President at DoodyCalls, also sees the pet franchise industry exploding. "Not only are we seeing dog ownership on the rise, but we are also seeing owners allocate more money and resources to the care of their dogs. What hasn't increased is the amount of time these pet parents have in the day and many of them need assistance in the routine care and maintenance that comes along with pet ownership."

Leaving the corporate job to follow passions

President and Founder of Woofie's Amy Addington says, "Today's workforce doesn't shy away from expressing just how much burnout is impacting their day-to-day lives. As job stress in corporate America increases, more people are leaving their corporate professions to pursue career opportunities they are passionate about." Amy adds, "We're also seeing more small business owners than ever making the jump into franchising this year. Many have maximized their businesses as much as they could and are unable to scale the company to the next level because they don't have the necessary tools or resources to do so."

Related: Is Franchising Right For You? Ask Yourself These 9 Questions to Find Out.

Natural disasters cement the need for home restoration services

"Recently, storms have become more severe and frequent, and are no longer just impacting certain regions of the country, but across all 50 states," says Carlos Hesano, Founder and President of DRYmedic Restoration Services. "With these natural disasters affecting homeowners in more catastrophic ways, and with an increasing supply of aged homes, there is a vast demand for home restoration services in 2023. Companies that can establish themselves in their communities as a reliable team to be trusted to help communities get through the aftermath of these storms will be able to scale operations and have a more fulfilling business."

AI is here to stay

"The year started off with AI being in the hot seat, and it's likely we'll see more of that throughout 2023. While ChatGPT and other AI tools won't clean a house or change the AC unit, they can help franchise owners run their businesses more efficiently. Tech-savvy owners will be successful in engaging and providing superior services with the help of artificial intelligence," says Ali Tafreshi, Chief Information Officer at Authority Brands.

Senior Vice President of Area Operations at Always Best Care, Sheila Davis agrees: "Our society is aging, with the number of individuals 65 and older in the U.S. projected to double over the next 30 years. By 2040, they will make up 20% of our population. These growing demographics make senior care a lucrative industry, [and] it's also fueling an increased focus on how we can best use advanced technology and exciting new developments in AI to enhance the continuum of care available to this increasing population of seniors right in their own homes. We expect to see increased adoption of AI tools across the senior care industry and a focus on early intervention to signs and symptom management that reduces the number of hospitalizations each year."

Related: 10 Tips to Go From Employee to Boss, From Franchisees Who Did It

Private equity investors will grow home service franchises

"Home services franchises are trending with private equity investors. We've seen almost every major platform franchisor be able to scale with this added investment. I believe we'll see a change with home services, including the technology providers that are used and the customers' behavior and expectations. This will be similar to how PE investment has impacted hotels and quick-service restaurants. The home services space is an attractive vertical that yields extraordinary results nationwide for private equity groups, as they're predictable, recurring models that can withstand a downturn in consumer spending," says Chief Growth Officer of Authority Brands, Heather McLeod.

Related: Top Financing Tips All Aspiring Franchisees Should Know

Innovative technology in the restaurant industry

Jeff Rinke, VP of Marketing and Product Development at Hungry Howie's says, "In the coming year, we believe we will see a bigger focus on enhancing digital tools to provide an easier and more efficient process for employees and customers."

"At Bojangles, the biggest trend we are seeing is leveraging disruptive innovation and system thinking to drive costs down on new restaurant openings, all while optimizing the restaurant economic model. We're always seeking additional ways to drive operational efficiency to continue serving the affordable, quality products our guests love while improving our franchisees' bottom line," adds Marshall Scarborough, Vice President of Menu and Culinary Innovation at Bojangles.

Blaze Pizza's SVP, Franchise Sales, Ed Yancey, agrees: "Lately, we are seeing a growing emphasis on tech-driven experiences, such as mobile ordering and contactless payments, that continue to push the industry forward."

A chicken industry surge

"We believe the chicken industry is the hottest trend in franchising this year, and it doesn't look like it is slowing down anytime soon. Chicken has become the talk of the town in the fast-casual and fast-food restaurant market. Consumers are seeking out flavorful, healthier alternatives, and chicken-based menu items. By showcasing the versatility of chicken, we captivate a broad customer base and elevate their dining experience," says Aaron Noveshen, Founder and CEO of Starbird.

Restaurants continue to adapt to the pandemic and post-pandemic needs

"As a result of the recent 'drive-thru boom' in the restaurant industry, we've seen that nearly 70% of sales are consumed off-premises. To accommodate our valued guests and their evolving preferences, our team has been focused on developing restaurant prototypes that improve the speed of service and enhance accessibility and convenience," says Chris Dull, CEO of Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers. Chris adds, "However, since the pandemic, we have also noticed a broader trend emerging in the restaurant industry – a growing desire for human-to-human connection with the brands that customers engage with regularly. In the fast-casual world, this trend has translated to more people valuing dine-in services, even with the increased number of off-premises options available."

Hotels and restaurants partner up

Mark Levis, Senior Director of Domestic New Business Development at Denny's, says, "As we look ahead into the rest of 2023, we see a trend emerging in the hospitality industry where hoteliers are increasingly interested in partnering with iconic brands, like Denny's, through restaurant franchising. This is particularly appealing to hoteliers who are looking to enhance their guests' experiences by providing convenient, on-site dining options that are open 24/7 while seamlessly attracting varying types of visitors."

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now and take this quiz to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

Clarissa Buch Zilberman

Entrepreneur Staff

Freelance Writer, Editor & Content Marketing Consultant

Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor based in Miami. Specializing in lifestyle, business, and travel, her work has appeared in Food & Wine,, Travel + Leisure, and Bon Appétit, among other print and digital titles. Through her content marketing consultancy, By Clarissa, she leverages her extensive editorial background and unique industry insights to support enterprise organizations and global creative agencies with their B2B, B2C, and B2E content initiatives. 

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