“There's so much uncertainty in corporations right now, especially on the West coast and California,” she said. “It doesn't matter how good an employee you are; if you're working for someone else, for a corporation, there's uncertainty.”
The recession, she says, has in some ways been a plus for her venture. Leases have come cheap, and families who can no longer pay for costly vacations can still splurge on toasted coconut sprinkles on their frozen desserts. “I haven’t had to worry that much about the economy,” she says.
Job growth may be stagnant, with consumer confidence in the doldrums, yet many franchise owners share Ketels’ bullishness, according to a new survey of 2,000 industry leaders by the International Franchise Association.
“Franchising remains a bright light in a still-struggling economy,” says IFA chief Stephen Caldeira.
An IFA report released last week of a survey of 2,000 franchise leaders found that 56 percent of respondents said current business conditions are good — up from 38 percent in 2011. Moreover, 54 percent believe those conditions will improve within a year, compared to 33 percent in 2011.
Beth Becker, director of franchising for Sport Clips, which specializes in haircuts for boys and men, reflects this sunny attitude. Sport Clips, which opened its first store in Austin, Texas, in 1993, recently sold its 900th franchise, and, with a boost from radio and Internet ads, expects to hit 1,000 by the end of the year. “Hair just keeps on growing, so whether you have a job or you need a job, you’ll need a haircut,” Becker reasons.
The new optimism may help explain some unexpected growth in franchise output. The IHS Global Insight forecasting firm last week adjusted its 2011 predictions to account for a few improvements: Franchise employment is expected to increase to 2.2 percent, with 177,000 new jobs, up slightly from the original forecast of 2.1 percent in December, while franchises’ total output is now projected to rise by 5.3 percent, to $39 billion, up from an earlier projection of 5 percent.