5 Franchises That Saw Explosive Growth in 2021

Nothing stays the same on the franchise, and that’s true for the franchise 500 list as well. Each year, companies move up or down depending on their performance in the previous year. Some have a giant fall. Others are triumphant heights.

This year, five brands did something particularly interesting: They all landed squarely in the middle of our list, despite not ranking in the previous year. This is a great leap. so what happened? The answers tell a story about the many ways franchises could go: some were acquired, others forged a pivotal partnership, others just saw a great opportunity and developed to meet it. We spoke to an executive from each of the five largest transfer companies and gained insights to help next year’s aspirants make big strides themselves.

1. Mosquito shield

Mosquito Shield wanted great thinkers who could manage vast areas, and these people were not always easy to find. As a result, the brand has turned away a lot of potential franchisees — and from the time it began franchising in 2013 through 2020, its units have been pretty much static. Then 2020 changed the account.

During the COVID lockdowns, people were stuck at home and had a greater motivation to rid the air of pesky mosquitoes. Mosquito Shield has partnered with sales organization Franchise FastLane to help expand its reach, attracting the kind of franchise Mosquito Shield has always wanted. As a result, the brand quickly went from 53 units to nearly 300 units, and jumped to #216 on our Franchise 500 list.

Here, VP of Brand, Michael Morehouse, explains how it came about.

2. Home Furnishings Buddy

Buddy’s Home Furnishings has spent years trying to refine a strategy: The rent-to-own furniture dealer would acquire other companies’ stores, turn them into Buddy’s, and then sell those stores to multi-unit franchisees. This came with an inconsistent reward; The brand ranked 190 on our Franchise 500 list in 2018, but it hasn’t taken the spot since. It also led to a kind of data rush, in which the number of franchise units and company-owned units went up and down.

Now the brand appears to be growing on the right track. The multi-brand franchise group acquired Buddy’s in 2019 and retooled its franchise development program. Buddy’s now has 37 companies and 274 franchises, which helped it land at number 226 on our list.

Here, Buddy CEO Michael Bennett talks about the changes.

3. Cost Reduction Analysts

There has never been a more important time for companies to regulate their spending. It may help explain how Expense Reduction Analysts (ERA) in Texas, which helps companies reduce their operating expenses, is making a big jump on our list. It once appeared at number 98 (in 2011), then fell off the list last year, and now it’s up to number 235. How? “Everyone and their grandmothers are going to need this kind of help,” says Dan Fields, chief development officer for the brand.

ERA has become a particularly attractive opportunity for a certain type of franchisee – someone who once ran a business, is looking for a second job, and would rather help other businesses than start something completely foreign like a fast food franchise.

Here, Fields explains how ERA seized the moment.

4. ACE Handyman Services

Andy Bell puts his good luck to work. In 2001 he ran a small business called Handyman Matters and won $50,000 worth of legal services from a trade contest. He used the windfall to draft a franchise disclosure document and operations manual, which eventually helped him start franchising his company. Then, in 2019, just months before the outbreak of the pandemic, he sold that company to Ace Hardware. His company has turned into Ace Handyman Services, which has been in an ideal position to help people in their homes during COVID. It now has 252 regions in 42 states, having added about 100 in the last year, and has fallen almost completely into the middle of our list.

Here, Bill explains how this explosive growth came about.

5. Isolate the koala

When people were stuck in their homes at the height of the pandemic, their new home renovation activities were notorious for driving demand for a wide range of home services. But it also meant people’s energy bills went up — and when they began looking for ways to cut costs while staying warm, Melbourne, Florida-based Koala Insulation saw an opportunity.

Although franchise development efforts began a month and a half before the national shutdown, Koala Insulation has exceeded its target of expansion to 200 districts in one year and is on its way to 300. This has helped move from last year’s unranked rank to No. 242. on this year’s list.

Here, we spoke with Scott Marr, Koala’s founder and CEO, about how the company plans to maintain its growth.


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