Hidden Economic Indicators Show Economy Improving

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A recent survey of franchise owners across the country revealed there are sectors of the economy that appear to be growing and presenting business opportunities for 2011.

“We see 2011 as a year of new growth. All the indicators we see are positive and we’re responding by aggressively growing our franchise network.”

A 20-year-old Colorado company specializing in the custom crating, packing and shipping of anything to anywhere sees subtle indicators of positive growth in the U.S. economy.

In a recent survey conducted by Craters & Freighters among its 60 franchise owners, 79% said the Industrial/Commercial business sector poses a major opportunity for growth in 2011. “This sector has been growing in the last half of 2010 and appears to be recovering from its 2009 dip,” said Atlanta franchise owner Robert Yokley.

Likewise, 58% of franchise owners identified the IT/Electrical business sector as a key area of focus for growth in the coming year. Trends in this sector appear to have been particularly stronger in the past six months with increased shipments of large IT and electrical equipment such as large servers.

If shipments of large, expensive, hard-to-ship equipment by both of these sectors are increasing, that sends a positive signal regarding the economic recovery in the United States. Because these are business-to-business items, the positive outlook for 2011 is also a good sign for potential job growth among larger employers.

Nearly half of all franchisees participating in the survey indicated that the medical equipment sector also holds promise for significant growth in 2011. An increase in the shipment of medical equipment to hospitals and clinics from manufacturers is positive but not necessarily surprising given the aging of the U.S. population and its growing demands for healthcare.

The aging population has also created a new category of growth for Craters & Freighters in markets where the population is skewed toward older, mid to higher income homeowners. Estate sales during 2010, especially in the last half of the year, have seen growth according to many franchisees. The growth has been significant enough that the company has identified the shipment of furniture and large estate sale items to multiple family members wherever they live as a new focus in 2011.

A reflection of trends in online activity across all consumer and business segments in the U.S. is the use of online search capabilities that 70% of owners say is very important for generating both business and residential customers. It would appear the search engine wars are likely to get even more robust as this becomes the preferred way for both businesses and consumers to find specialized resources such as Craters & Freighters.

The survey also had good news for marketers if the franchisees are indicative of the business category in general. Over 90% of those surveyed said that making efforts to increase brand awareness is an important factor in growing their businesses. However, that may not mean growing investment in traditional media as nearly 9 out of 10 franchisees believe referrals and word of mouth are the most important factor in business growth. As a result, there is growing awareness of social networks and how to leverage that tool in the crating and freighting category.

In another positive sign for the economy, Diane Gibson, the CEO and founder of Craters & Freighters says, “We see 2011 as a year of new growth. All the indicators we see are positive and we’re responding by aggressively growing our franchise network.”

The company currently has 67 franchise locations across the country and has targeted adding 16 more in 2011. “All of our franchises are independently owned and provide an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurial people who may be leaving their corporate lives,” said Gibson. “What they’ll find here is a huge opportunity to meet America’s growing logistics needs.”

Based on the survey indicators, if timing is everything, 2011 appears to be a good time for Craters & Freighters. More information about the company can be found at http://www.cratersandfreighters.com.

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Diane Gibson