Is a shake-out looming among focus group facilities? Its definitely a topic among researchers at conferences and wherever “old quallies” gather. The conversation usually revolves around the obvious fragmentation of our industry with all the new methodologies and capabilities popping up. The speculation is that many facility owners may simply be holding on until their expensive, long-term leases expire so they can close down the facility. There is no way to know if this is true. If so, it represents a major shift in our industry.
The specter of a facility shake-out was raised anew with Leibowitz Market Research‘s announcement that it sold its facility building in Charlotte after 50 years in business. They are “retooling” to better meet today’s needs. Stay tuned. Even so, it reminded me of other friends who have closed and moved on. I wonder if there are more closings just over the horizon?
I don’t expect the facility business will completely go away any time soon. But, we have to ask the question, “Will there be enough business to go around?” If not, “What will the surviving industry look like?” I think we will see many more closings. The trends suggest it. Business is fragmenting. Owners are aging. Leases are expiring. Big firms are flexing their muscle. Schlessinger keeps growing, Focus Pointe Global had a capital infusion. Fieldwork seems to be maintaining its network.
Fortunately, at 20|20, our facilities have been healthy and are adding capabilities to “retool” for the times. So, its a little difficult for me to judge. However, the signs point to a new age in the facility business. If a shake-out is coming, lets hope for a soft landing.