What's Hot (or Not) for Franchises in 2012

This story appears in the January 2012 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Here's a look at franchising trends that are busting, and the ones gone bust. 


Hotels Economy, midprice or upscale--you need quality customer service and a place to lay your head. Waffle bars don't hurt, either.

Burgers From a classic Big Mac to turkey to organic grass-fed beef with fries cooked in olive oil--this American classic holds a special place in consumers' hearts (and stomachs).

Frozen desserts Customers got brain freeze from this category for a while, but fro-yo shops and the like are picking up pace again.

Convenience stores Let's face it: People like fast service, and they need to eat. Which leads us to …

What's Hot and What's NotFitness Gyms are feeling the burn (in a good way) and competing to offer workout-aholics as many core-crunching options--in as many locations--as possible.

Senior health services The baby boomers are still booming, and the demand for franchised services geared toward them is holding strong.

Mobile franchises Think lawn care, home improvement and repairs, plumbing, pet care--mobile franchises are taking off, allowing franchisees to buy into a system and grow, without the cost of maintaining a traditional storefront.

Business coaching Peer consulting, mentoring, advisory boards, brokerage services--you people need help, and franchises are offering up their best advice.


eBay drop-off stores Jonah Hill said it best in The 40-Year-Old Virgin: "I don't get it." If you're thinking of opening an eBay Store, you're probably stuck in 2007, along with your first-generation iPhone.

Meal-preparation services It's like making food for your family … except not, and you could just go out to eat instead. Or, you know, cook.

"Gourmet" food retail Candy, ham, food sculptures, wine stores--these concepts have lost favor with connoisseurs. No matter how you slice it, foodies and franchising just don't mix.

Framing stores People aren't exactly splurging on art these days. And … sorry, we fell asleep thinking about this one.

Weight-loss centers Despite the surge in gyms, this niche hasn't reached its target weight: The diet business model can't seem to keep pace in the burgeoning fitness sector.

Cosmetics studios/tanning salons First it was all about treating your skin well. Then it was all about burning it under artificial light or spraying it orange. Somehow no happy medium has edged its way into this space.

Medspas The Botox revolution hasn't kept franchisees from frowning over lawsuits and mandatory partnerships with doctors.

Advertising services/direct mail Such traditional services are fading out as Groupon and friends take over the scene, offering companies a savvier and more high-tech way to market.

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