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Is the franchising summer lull a real thing?

Summer Beach

Here we are. It’s the middle of August, and the dog days are finally over. But more importantly than the 100 degree days going away, we’re approaching the end of the franchising summer lull.

As long as we’ve been in the industry, the team here at FranchiseHelp has been told about this terrible five month period between May and September. Allegedly, the summer is the absolute worst time for franchise development.

“No one’s home”

“We can’t get people to be serious about our concept”

“I’m already thinking about my 2016 budget”

“I don’t know. But it’s just slower!”

Unknown if we’ve actually heard these quotes verbatim, but they’re certainly representative of the industry vibe this time of year.

Well, I can tell you one thing. FranchiseHelp has been as busy as ever this summer! So I decided to dig into whether this summer lull is actually real. (And if it is, why don’t we feel it over here!)

The Case For The Franchising Summer Lull

When we're looking for the best data on people's interest over time, the best tool is Google Trends. Trends allows you the ability to see changes in google search volume for basically any search term over the course of the last 10 years!

January 2012 - June 2015 Google Trends Interest for
Franchising Industry

Let’s start with the Google Trends data for the franchising industry over the past few years:

Basically each year seems to follow this trend:

December 2012 - February 2014 Google Trends Interest in Franchising

December is a major trough. January sees a major spike.There’s a slow decline through August/September. And then the fall sees a major increase in interest.

This seems consistent with exactly what someone would predict about the interest in franchising if they believed in the summer lull.

The Case Against The Franchising Summer Lull

But rather than looking at the shape of the pattern, what if you simply look at the magnitude of the changes. Looking at the full scale of the y-axis (interest), there really aren't that large of swings during the year except during December.

So ultimately while we’re conditioned to sense small changes in interest, the absolute changes are relatively minuscule. Even in the most extreme circumstances, you’ll see August only have a 10% decrease in interest relative to January. (A comparison from March to August would only see a decrease of 5%.)

And let’s be honest. When people are talking about the “summer lull,” they’re certainly not intimating that there’s a 5% decrease in interest.

So What’s The Deal?

The point of the above sections is to show that it’s fairly easy to make a statistical argument about the presence or lack of presence of the summer lull. So unfortunately I think that “proof” is going to be difficult to come by either way.

However, conducting the analysis has led me to two definitive points that I’m confident in defending regarding the summer lull:

  • If there is a single lull in the franchising industry, it is almost certainly in the month of December. Based on the data presented above, the period from Thanksgiving through New Year’s is an absolute crater. So considering how strong of a dip you see during that period, it’s hard to imagine the summer lull existing in anywhere near the capacity it’s present during the holidays.
  • The repetitiveness of the pattern is shocking. While it’s true that each year’s dip isn’t that big, the dip happens every year without fail. That matters. Humans are creatures of habit. When you see a pattern repeat itself without fail, it’s powerful. So the summer lull may be perceived as stronger than it actually is because it can be predicted!

Have a different opinion about the lull? Does it actually exist? Shoot us your opinion!

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