Franchises have been a popular option for those contemplating entrance into a particular industry, but want to avoid the risk of an independent commercial venture. Still, what are the key industries that hold the most promise for a newcomer in 2018? After all, business growth trends change, as do generational preferences for various products and services.

The International Franchise Association (IFA) predicts that franchise establishments will grow by 1.9 percent this year, continuing an eight-year streak of consistent growth for the industry. That’s 759,000 new locations – more storefronts than the entire population of North Dakota!

Read on to discover what will be an almost surefire investment in the coming years.

Here are a Few Industries that Continue to Experience Rapid Growth on a Global Scale:

  1. Quick-Service Restaurants     Returning from a several-year slump, the fast food industry generated over $200 billion domestically in 2015. While that’s certainly more than you could shake a stick at, the real growth in this industry is coming from the fast-casual sector (think places like Chipotle or Pieology).You don’t want to miss this culinary paradigm shift. Given the bad press fast food has received over the course of a decade, these fast-casual brands are addressing consumer concerns about safety, health, and quality. While fast-food continues its astronomic growth in the global market, you might want to consider a more sophisticated option for your national strategy.
  2. Personal Care   Gyms and fitness franchises, such as Orange Theory and Planet Fitness, have been exploding across the domestic market. Entrepreneur’s rankings for the Top 20 Fastest Growing Franchises included six different health and fitness franchises. And while several of these national mainstays have been around for more than fifteen years, their success signifies a sea change for the industry.Consumers and members now prefer personalized, studio-like experiences, as opposed to the traditional, big-box gym model. Here’s the upshot: more than a third of the high-ranking fitness franchises can be started for less than $100,000. If you want a low-risk, high-reward vertical to invest in, look no further.
  3. Maintenance   An industry that caters to both businesses and consumers, cleaning and maintenance services continue a slow-but-steady growth trend. The number of establishments offering repair and maintenance took a slight dip during the first quarter of 2017, but is still on track for a return to pre-recession levels.Commercial cleaning franchises, renowned for their low startup costs, have been unable to avoid litigation regarding unethical practices. The FTC and Maryland Attorney General even issued a guide cautioning potential franchisees who want to jump into the industry. Our recommendation? Go with restoration or pest control services (which are more reputable) and steer clear of any proposition that sounds too good to be true.
  4. Educational Services Education has always been at the forefront of the American consciousness. For years, parents have been clamoring for ways to ensure their children’s success in higher education and beyond. Subsequently, franchises that offer tutoring services, as well as methods of boosting SAT and GRE scores have seen a huge bump in success over the last few years.The change is not just for kids. Overall, education companies are reporting a trend of rising demand from working adults. But why? Well, we’d assume the four-year degree has become more significant and necessary in fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The U.S. has fallen behind on the global stage in STEM fields, and that competition is likely fueling a desire to reclaim previously high rankings.
  5. Business Service Franchises A catch-all label for business-to-business companies and services, the business services industry makes up about 5.8% of the Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500. Among the most promising niches include direct mail marketing and printing services.Self-reported surveys have shown that 92% of young shoppers prefer real mail to its digital counterpart, citing perceived trustworthiness as a major factor. And while many assume that mail-based advertising is outdated, reports suggest direct mail marketing will be a vital part of an omnichannel solution in the information age.Commercial printing is another industry set to grow side-by-side with technological advancement, rather than diminish because of it. Print franchises in general are expected to grow at an annual rate of 1.8% for the next four years.