Catherine Monson, CEO of Propelled Brands, the parent company of three different franchises, and Chair of the International Franchise Association (IFA), took the time to talk to The Dallas Express last week.
Monson has worked in franchising for forty-one years. She shared some insights about the business sphere in the time of COVID, for better or for worse.
Propelled Brands is an umbrella company that houses FASTSIGNS, the world’s largest signage and visual graphics franchise, Suite Management Franchising, which operates MY SALON Suite and Salon Plaza for hairstylists and aestheticians, and NerdsToGo, a computer and IT resource for small businesses.
She says franchising companies are ideal for “people who want to be in business for themselves but not by themselves,” noting that franchisees “get to create economic output locally, create jobs, give back to the local community, and build generational wealth for their families.”
Monson has put considerable effort into advocating for business survival, especially after the pandemic began. She shares an example describing the IFA and its work regarding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans given out during COVID.
According to her, the original wording in the proposal could have excluded franchisees from receiving the loans. The IFA worked to ensure the verbiage was corrected in the bill so that small business owners, who work in one store among many in a franchise, were not forgotten.
While on the topic of COVID, Monson talked with The Dallas Express about the increasing demand for job satisfaction after the pandemic. This subject has become more and more relevant as workers stage strikes and walkouts, and many businesses have shut their doors, claiming no one wants to work anymore.
Monson says that the increasing desire for job satisfaction partially stems from the fact that millions of people were furloughed, laid off, or voluntarily dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic, and many have not returned.
This puts employers in a position where they must compete for workers because there are now more open jobs than job applicants.
This means that potential employees can have their pick of the open positions; they can choose whatever makes them happy, whether that be flexible hours, remote work, higher wages, or any other factor.
Many of those who worked from home during the pandemic would like to continue to do so, so employers who are switching back to in-office may find that they lose some of those workers to positions that allow them to remain remote.
Additionally, people who have remained employed but have heard about the number of positions available might also see this as an opportunity to look at other options and see if there is something that they find more exciting.
Monson says a big reason people are looking for jobs that they enjoy is the burnout that many employees have faced since the early days of the pandemic.
Aside from the pre-existing stressors of life and work in general, burnout from being exhausted and overworked has become a prevalent issue. This is especially true during COVID because frequently when businesses are understaffed, the existing staff is forced to pick up the slack, which tires them out even faster.
Monson believes this plays a role in the rising number of people seeking to open their own businesses. For some, this could bring the job satisfaction they seek.
“I’m controlling my own destiny if I own my business; I have greater flexibility and greater control. So, that, I think, is why we’ve seen an increase in the number of people interested in opening a business,” says Monson.
The enhanced rewards of business ownership are part of the draw of being your own boss.
Monson explains that franchises are a huge help in this regard because not only do they provide everything necessary for success (branding, operating procedures, intellectual property, etc.), but they are a pipeline for wealth to be distributed to underserved communities.
COVID has posed quite the set of challenges for franchisees and other small business owners, however. Monson says that one of the biggest difficulties looming before them in 2022 is supply chain issues, which have already plagued many businesses this year.
Inflation (and therefore profit margin) and the labor shortage will also be driving challenges, she adds.
Though the concept may seem daunting, “whenever you take risks, the opportunity for reward is higher,” says Monson. Whether the risk is applying for a new job or starting your own company, her words ring true.