Looking Ahead to 2016
Groan, I know, here comes all the “year end” articles and lists, but I can’t resist! After joining the franchise industry a year ago, I’m anxiously looking forward to many things in the coming year, while being very thankful for everything that’s happened up to the present.
I’ve already compiled an imaginary list of my favorite people in franchising. From lawyers to consultants, ‘zors to ‘zees and everyone in between, this industry is teeming with really smart, genuine and kind people. So far, all of you take my calls and return my emails, so I take this as a sign that I’ve merged smoothly into the pack. I like it here, and love the variety of stories I get to report on. I appreciate all of the contacts that take the energy to create a real relationship with me, and think of me when they stumble upon an interesting tidbit.
I’m a development junky, with a love of cities and urban development. Perhaps you’ve noticed this in some of my stories (like THIS one about Taco Bell’s new urban Cantina concept). In the coming year, I hope to become the go-to Franchise Times real estate specialist focused on what franchises are reacting smartly to the growing trend of millennials and empty nesters moving back toward city centers. The ‘burbs have their appeal and are still important, but I believe the future is in walkable neighborhoods that bring people together.
There are some real characters and inspirational people in franchising. I have a few favorite subjects/stories thus far: Ryan Smolkin at Smoke’s Poutinerie, Famous Dave himself, School of Rock’s Dzana Homan (stay tuned!), Paul Brown at Arby’s, Jen Kushell at YSN and Galen Welsch of Jibu. Know anybody else of this caliber? If so, send ‘em my way.
The economy’s going to be interesting going forward. There are headwinds in every direction: still-stagnant Europe, increasingly fractured Middle East with Russian involvement, China’s lackluster (at best) growth and the usual government intervention—with the Fed’s expected interest rate hike at the top of the heap.
America keeps growing, even though real employment is only slowly healing and income growth remains mostly nonexistent for many in the middle class. Can this growth continue? Perhaps, but I expect 2016 to be more sobering than how most of us felt at the beginning of 2015.
That may not be the most upbeat year-end parting thought, but market intelligence is going to appreciate in an increasingly uncertain market. There are risks on the horizon, and specific risks to franchising, but here’s to the hope that 2016 meets or exceeds the dozen months that came before it.