20 Recession Resistant Franchises

Promising picks to choose from—even in this economy

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Service with a smile: As a Subway franchisee, Doni Pitchford is doing what it takes to thrive. (Photograph by Jerry Jack)

By the time Doni Pitchford told anyone what she had done, it was too late. “The store was already built. There was no turning back,” she says. Owner and operator of a Jamaica, New York-based Subway franchise, Pitchford took the leap into franchising back in June 2005. Of course, she had no idea she would soon land smack in the middle of one of most severe economic downturns since the Great Depression.

“Historically franchising has been the business model that has gone up during economic slowdowns,” says Miriam Brewer, the International Franchise Association’s director of education and diversity, who points to the franchising industry successfully going in and coming out of the technology recession of 2002. “But this particular economic downturn is very different from others that we have seen.”

With outside factors such as the credit crunch and housing crisis, businesses of all sizes are struggling to keep their doors open. But it isn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, certain industries are faring well in this climate–and in many cases, franchising is the best avenue for tapping into them. black enterprise, working closely with the IFA (www.franchise.org) as well as the Arlington, Virginia-based franchise research firm FRANdata (www.frandata.com), looked into those industries to uncover 20 recession-resistant franchises that are not only outperforming now, but are poised to generate returns well after the long-awaited economic recovery arrives.

We identified six franchising industries: automotive repair, business-related services, child-related services, healthcare, quick-service restaurants, and maintenance services that boast performance-value and sustainable categories. (View the 20 Recession Resistant Franchises list here.)

Standout franchises offer one or more of the following attributes:

–Positive average annual unit growth over the last three years

–Leaders within their industry/sector

–Special incentives or concessions to minority franchisees

–Increased system-wide sales from 2008 to 2009

–Strategies unique to combating the current economy

Experts will vouch that no franchise is recession-proof and outcomes aren’t guaranteed. But with due diligence and strategic planning, you can embark on an entrepreneurial venture during these challenging times with confidence and be optimistic that when the economy turns, it will be in your favor.

(Check out our quiz “Is Opening a Franchise Right for You?“)

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