A Whole New World

The thing you hear often these days is some expression to get back to “normal.” The truth be told, those days are gone for good, I’m afraid and I’m not sure that it’s a bad thing in many ways. I’ve been thinking a lot about what the “new” normal looks like because as I’m talking to folks about franchises, some of the businesses that I would have recommended a few months ago are suddenly not as attractive as they were then. Others have emerged as having even more potential.

I want to share some thoughts with you today mostly to get you thinking about what the new normal is for your business. The first thing you’ve probably noticed, maybe because it’s affected you directly, is how many people are working from home. Business meetings take place virtually. I’ve seen a number of professional conferences rescheduled from some hotel ballroom to a virtual meeting place.

What will this do to the real-estate business? If you’re leasing 10,000 square feet of office space now but find you’re being just as productive with the staff working remotely, can that 10,000 become just enough space for a few offices and a conference room? Maybe investing in secure networking is a better use of funds. Some 60% report being either as productive or even more productive than they were working from the office according to a recent study and once the economy reopens, 24% say they’d like to work either entirely or more from home compared to how they worked before,

What will this do to the convention business, at least in the near term? Yes, there is huge value in the face time and spontaneous meetings conventions provide, but I’m not sure people will want to travel. Business travelers are the highest-profit customers airlines and hotels have. Between executives not needing to travel as much and vacation travelers being scared to, what happens to the travel business?

I worked in sports for many years. I’ve seen where some organizations are talking about revamping arena and stadium seating to spread their customers out. Of course, this will reduce capacity quite a bit. What does that do to the economics of those sports (I’m looking at you, NHL) and entertainment shows (concerts, etc.) that are heavily dependant on ticket sales? Seating capacity is an issue for restaurants and bars too. How do movie theaters stay in business with reduced capacity and with an audience that’s now learned to enjoy the theater experience at home?

We need to be thinking about supply chain disruption. Does manufacturing come back here? Are new factories built with social distancing in mind? Does this accelerate the trend to automation since robots can’t catch a virus (well, at least not of the non-digital kind)? We also suddenly are aware that our economy rests squarely on the people who seem to be paid inversely to their importance. Nurses, truck drivers, meat cutters, and others on the front lines are compensated far below the worth that has become evident to us all over the last few months. How does this enter into the conversation when the time comes?

Those are just a few things that have popped into my brain while this disaster goes on. What do I say to folks I’m working with, many of whom have been forced to rethink their employment or who have chosen to? In a nutshell, I think these businesses are worth a strong look:

  • Senior care – people were already wanting to stay in their own homes as they age and the issues in senior group quarters during this have accelerated the trend;
  • Cleaning, both residential and commercial. Self-explanatory
  • Education – both afterschool programs and tutoring. People always spend on their kids and more schooling is going to take place online and at home. Traditional programs in the Arts, STEM, and other areas will be hurt, I believe, and parents will seek them elsewhere.
  • Pets – I can’t tell you how many people have acquired new pets during this time. It also seems all of a sudden that everyone I know is posting something about their pet. Pet supplies, pet boarding, and pet grooming. Dog training too, maybe, if the new puppy we have is any indication (the other 2 dogs don’t seem to be fans yet).

Those are a few of my thoughts. There are a number of other business sectors that look promising in the new world but the important thing is that we recognize that things have changed, probably forever. Have you thought about how that affects you and your business? Is it time for you to change as well?

 

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Filed under Franchises, Thinking Aloud, What's Going On

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