Musings

Oakscale: Predictions for 2021 and Beyond

2020 was slated to be a big year for Oakscale. Truthfully, it wasn’t. Like for most people and businesses, it was a tumultuous year. A lot of “downs” with some significant “ups” sprinkled in. Personally, I got to spend a lot more time with my daughter, getting to be a part of nearly every moment of her life, moments that certainly would have been missed without the grace of a pandemic. On the business side, we came to a halt for several months, but then re-emerged with two new franchise brand partnerships, both deemed essential and thriving throughout Covid. Ups, downs, and in-betweens. 

But rather than do the traditional year end review, a detailed account of the short paragraph above, I want to look forward to what’s ahead in 2021 and offer some predictions.

Pet Franchises Boom

It’s already begun, but pet franchises will experience a significant boom this year. A lot of people became new pet owners as a form of a socialization band-aid during what was a long period of isolation for many. After weeks and even months went by where it was difficult to get any human interaction outside of your home, many satisfied that social thirst in the form of a furry friend.

“Yes, but that already happened and pet ownership will revert back to standard levels,” you say? Eventually, maybe. But pets aren’t home workout equipment that you toss aside when your gym reopens. They live, breathe, and have an average lifespan of 11+ years. The industry graph line is pointing up and to the right for the foreseeable future. 

So which franchises will be the big winners? Well, a lot of them probably have a good shot at being a part of the boom, but I’d make my wager on essential services that make life easier and more convenient for pet-owners. 

In other words, I’d lean toward services or products that are non-discretionary. Just like us two-legged animals, pets gotta eat, and pets gotta go to the doctor now and then to stay healthy. The veterinary industry actually grew in 2020 amidst the pandemic, and the PetWellClinic franchise was no different.

If we hit a double-dip recession in 2021, as many have predicted, essential and non-discretionary spending will continue, but the extra stuff like pet costumes, toys, grooming, daycare, and walking will likely be slower to recover. 

Couple an essential pet service or product with convenience and/or affordability, and you’ve probably got a winner. PetWellClinic checks all of these boxes.

Security Gets Smarter

The year is 2021, and there are STILL businesses protecting their buildings and assets with technology from 1921. Well, not really, but you get the point. The days of property managers sitting in a dark room scanning over 72 hours of surveillance camera footage to see who keeps dumping old furniture into the trash dumpster are long gone, or they should be anyway. 

Electronic security systems have gotten so advanced, you’d probably be a little petrified to know what they can do. In the example above, they can scan for oversized objects crossing an invisible grid and alert the property manager as it’s happening. The property manager can then dispatch a security officer or handle the situation directly if it happens to be a resident. 

Operationally, this saves a lot of headaches, and it saves money. No need to employ a security officer to stand by the dumpster, and no need to endlessly review footage. This is a very simple example, but different types of businesses have different types of needs ranging from simple to complex, and many issues can be resolved instantly by using the right technology. 

“Great, but these capabilities aren’t exactly new for 2021. They’ve been around for some time and it’s constantly evolving. Businesses are already aware of this,” you say? 

Well, yes and no. Some businesses are aware that there is high-tech, smart security integration and access control available, but the misconception is that it’s expensive. That may be somewhat true from an initial cost perspective, but often saves money on ongoing operational expenses by eliminating the need for multiple security officers, or solving an ongoing operational issue they never considered could be solved by technology. There are heaps and heaps of examples of this from the Surveillance Secure franchise, but we won’t get into that now. 

The reason why this industry will boom in 2021? Covid. Plain and simple. Covid has brought awareness to all businesses across all industries. A few examples: security cameras can use software to identify who is not wearing a mask, they can detect temperatures, they can detect when there are people gathering in certain areas, or if there’s less than 6 feet between people in a line. Not only will they detect, but they will alert the appropriate person in real time so they can address the situation. 

Now, are these particular examples going to be addressable issues forever? I surely hope not. I want to get back to normal life as soon as I can (tomorrow, please!). But the issues Covid brought about catalyzed a search for solutions. In that search, businesses became aware of the power of electronic security and the applications and insights it could bring to their business, whether it’s a hospital, a school, a department store, or a warehouse. 

Even as Covid fades into the distance, the awareness it brought to this industry will remain.

So which franchises in this space will be the big winners? Well, this one is easy. There’s really only two electronic security integration franchises: Security 101 and Surveillance Secure. The former is sold out in most markets across the country, while the latter is just getting started. The combination of available territories, excellent unit economics, and a new awareness of the application of electronic security technology will lead to a surge this year.

What about Oakscale?

2021 will be the best year yet for Oakscale. Partially because of the two predictions above, and partially due to the fact that those predictions are rooted in a reality based on the sheer number of inquiries and applications we receive for franchise information on PetWellClinic and Surveillance Secure. While inquiries are great, the real test is how many folks see enough potential to actually apply for the franchise, and how many of those are actually qualified to be a franchisee. We closed out 2020 by receiving 23 applications in December alone, with 22 of them coming from candidates that are qualified both financially and experientially.

We have several franchise candidates at the finish line for each brand that should officially become franchisees in January, and a pipeline of qualified candidates right behind them. 

So while one could argue with the industry predictions for the pet and security industries (though I don’t think you’d be correct), you can’t argue with data. And the data is very promising for Oakscale and its portfolio of brands over the next 12+ months. 

Wishing a prosperous 2021 to all!

Joe Sexton is the Senior Director of Development at Oakscale, where he focuses on implementing marketing and sales strategies to drive growth for the portfolio of franchise brands.
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