Derek Norwood and his dad have owned an Outdoor Lighting Perspectives franchise in Chicago for 10 years. In the early going, father and son were mostly satisfied with the returns. But every year, there was a predictable lean period that hurt their bottom line: winter. Their business would freeze for months at a time under the assault of Chicago’s arctic winds and deep snows.
Finally, three years ago, the younger Mr. Norwood took steps to eliminate those swings in revenue, not by tinkering with Outdoor Lighting, or with the weather, but by starting two new businesses. He launched a new company designed to help ride out the winter solstice: a holiday lighting supplier. And he purchased a second franchise that also fit nicely into the family landscaping empire: a Mosquito Squad outlet.
Plying this strategy puts the Norwoods in the forefront of a rare but growing breed: the multitasking franchiser. Franchise holders who diversify with more than one type of franchise not only get help counterbalancing unavoidable slow periods in one industry, but they also squeeze whole new revenue streams out of the same territory, and sometimes even the same customers. Having learned to run one franchise system often helps in learning the ropes of another. And just like with larger business empires, there can be synergies between the operations, too.