I remember when news of the pandemic first hit in early 2020. Businesses locally and abroad were shutting down, and at O2E brands, we weren’t immune — in fact, we were faced with the possibility of revenue being cut roughly in half. It was a scary time on multiple levels!
There was a moment during all the madness in which I took a step back to evaluate what it all meant for us when it came to adding new Franchise Partners to our business. Given all the layoffs happening across so many sectors in North America, would people want to take the chance to dive into business ownership? If you’re losing your job, surely the last thing you would want to do is to spend money to invest in a business…right?
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
At the time, instinct told me that everyone would protect their income by spending conservatively. Like so many other companies, I have to admit we started to panic a little. No one knew what tomorrow looked like, and despite 31 years of business experience, it was anybody’s guess what would happen next. As a result, we made cutbacks, too. We furloughed a large portion of the team…only to get flooded with interest on both the consumer and franchise development side a few short months later!
I am so grateful for everyone on the team who came back once we realized we needed their help. We really needed their help.
As it turns out, I was totally shocked to see a complete turnaround in demand! Right now, we’re seeing a massive surge in interest in franchising opportunities within the home services sector. People right now want to make an investment more than ever!
Because they’re reevaluating what’s important in life. They’re willing to follow their gut and passion to finally become their own bosses. It took a pandemic, but many are taking a step back and realizing they’re not happy with where they’re at right now. Maybe they’re no longer satisfied working in corporate America, or maybe they’ve been packaged out. Regardless of the reason, all of a sudden the “now or never” mentality has become a reality.
Take real estate, for example. For a lot of people in North America, remote working has now become a viable option. So why not go work and live in a place that you love? If you’re located in a city in which real estate affordability is a barrier to wealth accumulation, options have now opened up to relocate. Another example of an area in which we’ve seen a surge in investment is the stock market. As the business world is changing in response to the pandemic, so are investment decisions. Take Zoom or Apple for instance — people who are investing in the virtual world have seen huge returns, and this is just the beginning.
It’s true that we are living amidst the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. But the zeitgeist of the times feels different, especially in the business world. People aren’t wandering in the streets figuring out how to survive like they might have been in the 1930s. Instead, many of them are investing in the next stage of their lives: their futures.
And that’s what has been the greatest surprise during this global crisis. I thought I’d seen this movie before, back in 2008 when our business was down by nearly $100 million. But what I failed to see then was that we’d found ourselves in a situation similar to the post 9/11 period, in which we were all re-examining our lives and reflecting on what mattered most. I realized that these kinds of situations are ripe for huge, sometimes emotional decisions that could end up affecting the rest of your lives. After 31 years of business experience, I thought I understood a thing or two — but it turns you can still teach an old dog new tricks. As a leader, it’s always humbling to remind yourself to be open to approaching problems in new ways.
I never expected that people would be investing in home services like crazy, but then again, no one saw the pandemic coming. We’re all spending more time than ever before in our homes, so there’s a real energy and excitement within the home services sector right now. It took me a while, but once we acknowledged this shift at O2E and ultimately adapted, the opportunities made themselves available to us. That’s why these days, we’re hitting the franchise development engine. Hard.
And we’re just getting ramped up.