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20 years of franchising: Looking back and ahead

CBF_Nov2014.inddBy Peter Saunders
Canadian Business Franchise is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The past two decades have witnessed many major changes and developments in the Canadian franchising sector—and all along the way, Canadian Business Franchise has been tracking them.

When Canadian Business Franchise (then frequently referred to simply as Business Franchise) was launched in late 1994, franchising was quickly growing as a business model in Canada—not just for well-established franchise brands and categories like Subway (sandwiches), Baskin Robbins (ice cream) and Boston Pizza (family dining), but also for less traditionally franchised concepts like MediChair (home medical equipment sales), Rent-A-Wreck (vehicle rentals), Paws & Claws (pet food sales) and Midas (automotive repairs).

One reason for this trend was the growing perception of the greater ‘safety’ of running your own business within a well-established system, rather than going out completely on your own. This was particularly important after Canada’s economic recession in the early 1990s.

“Gone are the easy routes for opening a small business which were so accessible in the 1980s,” wrote original Canadian Business Franchise editor/publisher Colin Bradbury. “A new world economy is emerging from the recession and Canadians must be ready to meet the new challenges of the 1990s.”

Indeed, as the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party at the federal level and the New Democratic Party (NDP) at the provincial level in Ontario plummeted in popularity, there was a sense of economic change in the air. And while Canada’s economic slump stretched through 1995 and 1996, the trend since then has been one of continuous growth, to which franchising has contributed significantly.

In 2007, for example, when franchise legislation was being planned in Manitoba, related research showed franchising represented 10 per cent of the national gross domestic product (GDP) and, even more significantly, accounted for one out of every five consumer dollars spent for goods and services in Canada.

With franchising playing such a major role in Canada’s economy, it is little wonder new laws have had to keep pace. When Canadian Business Franchise was launched, only Alberta had any provincial franchise legislation. Today, only four provinces do not have legislation: British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. And British Columbia looks likely to have it very soon.

Even given the clarity legislation brings, however, franchising can be very confusing, particularly if you are looking at buying a franchise for the first time, not least because there are well over a thousand brands to choose from, but also because the life of a franchisee will be different from your previous career and other experiences.

With that in mind, Canadian Business Franchise has not only reported the latest news, but also provided a ‘primer’ for new prospective franchisees. This is particularly evident in two special annual publications: the Canadian Business Franchise Handbook, a handy guide to how franchising works; and the Canadian Business Franchise Directory, which provides a snapshot of the breadth of the current Canadian franchising landscape.

At any given time, readers picking up this magazine and/or the special editions are embarking on a new journey into entrepreneurial self-employment with the peace of mind of corporate support behind them. Over the past 20 years, many first-timers have gone on to great success as franchisees. If you choose the follow their path, we hope you will achieve the same.

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