Every December, we publish a list in Entrepreneur of what we predict will be the "hottest" categories for franchise expansion in the year ahead. And every summer we typically publish an update on that list—not updating the categories, but updating the information on the fast-growing or newly launched franchises within those categories.
But this year, as we prepared to update the list, we were faced with a question—should we change the categories from those we had listed in December, back when the world looked and felt a whole lot different? While businesses in some of these categories were deemed nonessential and were adversely affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns, many also found creative ways to keep serving customers during that time. And we believe that even those that didn't will ultimately benefit from the fact that absence makes the heart grow fonder. It's unlikely that anyone will ever again take for granted the ability to go to the gym or a family entertainment center. So in the end, we removed just a few categories (including breakfast, Mexican food, and juices/acai bowls, which you can find covered in our "Top 200 Food Franchises" list), and added one that saw a boost in popularity during the shutdowns: home improvement.
The road ahead will still hold many challenges for businesses in every industry, and different franchisors and franchisees will tackle those challenges differently. So keep in mind that this list is not an endorsement of any particular franchise company. It's more important than ever to do your own research before investing in an opportunity. Read the FDD, consult with accountants and attorneys, and talk to existing and former franchisees to decide whether the franchise is right for you. For more information on a particular franchise, click on the company's name.
ChildcareEntertainment/RecreationFitness BusinessesHealthHome ImprovementPetsRestoration Services
For essential workers who couldn't stay home with their little ones, childcare businesses proved even more vital than ever this year. And those parents who could stay home have likely gained a new appreciation for the work these businesses do to educate and care for their kids. As the economy opens back up and more parents head back to the office, this category should only keep growing.
Childcare/entertainment centers Preschool/educational childcare Early childhood education and childcare Nanny-placement, babysitting, tutoring Early childhood education centers Preschool, daycare, public-speaking enrichment programs Drop-in childcare, afterschool programs, summer camps Preschool/educational childcare Childcare and early learning Hourly childcare and preschool Educational childcare/preschool Preschool/educational childcare Early childhood education Spanish immersion daycare and preschool
Entertainment and recreation businesses were understandably deemed nonessential during the shutdowns. And yet, more than ever, people needed things to keep them occupied and take their minds off the world—and many of these businesses found creative ways to still meet that need, like offering take-home DIY projects and online party services.
Recreational billiard leagues Indoor axe, knife, and spear throwing Educational craft brewery tours Climbing-wall family entertainment centers Paint-your-own-ceramics studios Photography, DJ, video, and photo-booth services Adult dance classes and parties Event planner, ticket brokerage, and travel agency Wall-climbing and family entertainment facilities Mobile video-game theaters Family entertainment centers Indoor bounce houses and playgrounds Trampoline parks/entertainment centers
When the pandemic hit, many fitness franchises were able to quickly pivot and offer classes to their customers online. Nevertheless, many people were eager to get back into the gym when restrictions began to be lifted, and with health more top-of-mind than ever, this already strong category should only see more growth going forward.
Fitness programs for seniors Group fitness classes, streaming fitness classes, nutrition coaching Sports performance training Prenatal and postpartum fitness and nutrition Health and fitness centers Boxing and kickboxing group fitness programs Fitness/weight-loss services Rowing and strength training Kickboxing fitness classes Personal and group training, wellness services Personalized strength training Indoor fitness boot camps Prenatal and postpartum fitness and wellness programs Fitness and nutrition programs Health and fitness centers Boot camp fitness programs Yoga, meditation, teacher training, retreats Strength training and fitness programs Athletic-based fitness programs Group fitness classes, conventions, apparel, and accessories 10-week fitness and nutrition programs Fitness programs for women Kickboxing fitness circuit-training centers Functional interval training fitness studios Basketball-focused fitness clubs Barre fitness classes and apparel Fitness and wellness centers Group functional training Private personal training and supplement sales In-home personal training Assisted stretching classes and related therapy services Fitness studios with smoothie bar and recovery services Kickboxing circuit-training programs for women Boxing and kickboxing fitness classes, personal training, apparel High intensity interval training studios Boxing, kickboxing, Brazilian jiu jitsu, high-intensity interval training, and group fitness classes
Being healthy has become more important than ever, so this small but growing category probably looks more appealing than ever to prospective franchisees. And there's something here for everyone, from traditional health services to more alternative offerings like acupuncture, cryotherapy, IV therapy, and cannabis.
Hormone-based weight-loss and wellness services Hemp-derived CBD products CBD/THC products and accessories; virtual doctor consultations Preventative health, wellness, and aesthetic services CBD products and accessories Physical therapy, balance and vestibular therapy, preventive wellness services Arch supports, related products Chiropractic, rehabilitation, massage, nutrition, and wellness services Home health care and hospice care Vitamin IV and injection therapy Cryotherapy, wellness, and pain management services Lice-treatment services and products Wheelchair and mobility scooter repair, cleaning, rentals, and sales Mobility scooters, ramps, stair lifts Chiropractic services, massage therapy, nutritional supplements Mobility and accessibility equipment sales and services Over-the-counter pharmaceutical products vending Weight-loss and wellness services Products for relief/prevention of back and neck pain Weight-loss coaching and products Orthopedic wellness services Medical rejuvenation therapy and weight-loss centers Retail cannabis dispensaries Vegan health and beauty stores/cafes/vitamin and supplement stores
As shelter-in-place orders had people spending more time in their homes, many turned to home improvement, repair, and remodeling projects to keep themselves busy. Most home improvement stores and service business were able to stay open during this time, adjusting their services to maintain proper social distancing and sanitation, with some even pivoting to virtual consultations.
Seamless siding, soffit, fascia, gutters, windows, roofing Garage door sales, installation, and repairs Residential and commercial repairs, maintenance, and improvements Hardware and home-improvement stores Garage-door installation and repairs Outdoor living space design and construction Window covering sales, installation, and repairs Window coverings, window film, rugs, accessories Residential and commercial painting Holiday and event lighting Residential/commercial closet and storage systems; Murphy beds Custom closet and storage systems Custom closet and home/office organization systems Residential/commercial painting, repairs, gutter installation, power washing, holiday lighting Decorative concrete coatings Interior decorating services and products Home and auto handyman services Kitchen, bath, and interior remodeling Kitchen refacing and remodeling Residential and commercial painting Flooring installation and restoration Residential and commercial painting Furniture and wood restoration, repair, and refinishing Garage cabinets, floor coatings, organization products Countertop, cabinet, tub, tile, and shower resurfacing; fiberglass repair Auto/residential/commercial glass installation, repair, and replacement Window and glass restoration, repair, and replacement Home modifications for the disabled and aging Handyman and home-modification services Smart home and electrical contracting services Smart home and electrical contracting services Handyman/home-improvement services Lumber and hardware stores Kitchen and bath remodeling and design Residential and commercial kitchen and bath remodeling Kitchen pantry and bathroom organization Kitchen and bathroom surface refinishing Residential and commercial appliance installation and repairs Residential and commercial repair, maintenance, and improvement services Interior and exterior sandless wood refinishing Wood cabinet and floor refinishing Roofing, exterior coating, vinyl windows, paving Residential, holiday, and hospitality lighting Window and door sales and installation Pet door sales and installation Residential garage door repair, installation, and service Residential pool construction Garage-door installation and repairs Wholesale kitchen, bath, and flooring products Concrete flooring installation, treatment, repair, and restoration Mobile window and door screening Custom pull-out shelving for cabinets and pantries Custom wall beds and cabinetry Fence sales and installation Bathtub repair and refinishing, tub liners, bath remodeling Home organization products and services Residential and commercial painting Home insulation and energy-efficient products Replacement windows, doors, siding, and other exterior remodeling products One-day residential and commercial painting
Americans spent an estimated $75 billion on their furry friends last year, according to the American Pet Products Association, and while spending in other areas has decreased, people are still willing to sacrifice for their pets. Plus, most pet stores qualified as 'essential businesses' during the shutdowns, and other businesses like doggy daycares stayed open to provide care for medical workers' pets.
Pet boarding, daycare, grooming, and products Dog daycare, boarding, training, grooming Pet supplies and services Dog care services and products Dog daycare, boarding, and spa services Pet food and supplies, grooming, self-wash, training, and walking Walk-in veterinary clinics Health food for dogs and cats Dog daycare, pet boarding, pet grooming Luxury dog daycare and boarding Dog training, boarding, daycare, grooming, retail Dog parks with bars and grills Pet funeral and cremation services and products Retail pet supplies and services Natural pet-food stores/delivery Pets, pet supplies, boarding, daycare, grooming Natural pet food and supplies; dog self-wash Pet care in private homes Pet daycare, boarding, grooming Pet food and supplies, grooming, self wash, bakery Bird-feeding supplies and nature gift items Dog walking, pet sitting, mobile pet grooming Indoor dog training and socialization, pet products
Restoration service businesses have long had the reputation of being recession-proof, and they stand to prove that now. Since disasters don't stop occuring no matter the circumstances, these were obviously deemed essential businesses, and many found their services in even higher demand than usual during the shutdowns.
Water, fire, and mold remediation Crime-scene and trauma-scene cleaning Restoration of textiles and electronics Insurance/disaster restoration Carpet and upholstery cleaning, disaster restoration, mold remediation Residential and commercial property restoration Building contents packing, cleaning, storage, and restoration Property damage restoration and remediation Indoor cleaning and restoration Water, fire, smoke, and mold restoration Water/fire restoration, mold remediation Commercial/residential cleaning, disaster restoration Fire, water, and other damage cleanup and restoration Crime-scene, meth-lab, and hoarding cleanup; mold remediation; house buying Insurance/disaster restoration, cleaning, mold remediation, air quality control Roofing, exterior restoration