While the economy is down and unemployment is at an all-time high, the franchising industry saw a bump in activity with people wanting to take more control of their future.

FranNet’s franchising consultant for Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, Brigitte Betser, said franchise owners stepped up in the early months of the pandemic to help their franchisees navigate the uncertain climate.

One strategy was pivoting marketing strategies to increase online visibility. Many restaurant franchises, for example, switched to a takeout-heavy structure and pivoted their marketing toward it.

Children’s services is another example of a concept that’s typically face-to-face but had to pivot and quickly execute online and virtual programs, Betser said.

“I’ve been very impressed with franchising in general as we continue to go through the pandemic,” Betser said. “There’s still a lot of fear and uncertainty, but early on as we’ve seen COVID hit businesses, franchisors really stepped up to the plate.”

Franchisors also continue to be flexible with their franchisees, Betser said, offering relief in the forms of freezing royalty fees or paying loans to franchisees.

Certain industries are thriving more than others, she said. According to FranNet, the top five industries that are doing well mid-pandemic are home services, childhood enrichment, boutique fitness, health food and pet care.

“Here in Michigan, fitness has not been able to continue, but there’s a particular concept