Nearly every town in America houses some kind of franchise, whether that be a restaurant, hotel, home improvement store, hair salon -- the list goes on. Franchises account for around 9 million jobs in America, making them an integral part of the economy. In September 2016 alone, franchised businesses added 26,000 new jobs! And the sector is expected to continue its upward trajectory with projections showing 1.7 percent growth for 2016 and a rise in gross domestic product from $523 billion to $552 billion.

Programs like Kimco’s FastTrack Franchise make it easy for hopeful entrepreneurs to take the necessary steps towards owning their own business under the larger, safer umbrella of a franchise. And while the structure and prominence of franchises aren’t likely to change, they’re still subject to trends like every other business model. So what’s new in franchising?

Fast, healthy food takes the lead

Food chains represent a large part of franchises, and are currently undergoing the most change. Fast-food franchises, like McDonald’s and Burger King, are introducing new food concepts, like all-day breakfast and food hybrid dishes, to help stir growth and win new customers, as many consumers find themselves drawn towards not only fast, but healthier options. Fast-casual restaurants such as Panera Bread, which set a goal to remove all artificial ingredients by the end of 2016, and Chipotle Mexican Grill, which favors organic, hormone-free ingredients, have become massively successful within the past several years.

This has also opened the door for “in-between” franchise restaurant concepts. For example, Arby’s labels itself as somewhere above fast-food and below fast-casual, filling a niche for people who want good meat, regardless of the atmosphere. The chain succeeds by knowing its customer base and playing to its strengths.

Food trucks are also on their way into the franchise world, offering fast, inexpensive, and deliciously authentic dining options. New and established franchises alike hopped on the food truck trend in 2016, and it’s expected to take off even further in years to come. In the case of Chick-fil-A, it’s a way to expand an already-established franchise.

Customers love convenience

While fast-casual dining spaces are giving customers fast, quality food, consumers also want options for speedy delivery to their door. To satisfy this demand, some franchises are partnering with third-party apps such as GrubHub, Uber, and Postmates to offer the convenience without having to front the cost of developing their own delivery fleet.

Many franchisees have utilized the size, strength, and structure of their franchisor and their brand’s own apps. These apps provide a variety of services, from order-online and curbside pickup to general information about the franchise’s locations or products, and even games to promote the company’s brand.

Growing more diverse

The basic model of franchising may stay the same, but that doesn’t mean the faces and storefronts have to. As America’s first wave of franchisees gets older and retires, they are beginning to hire new, younger, and often more diverse people to run their businesses. Not only does more diversity accurately reflect a changing country, but it allows for fresh perspectives and innovation that can do good to shake up a brand that may have stagnated.

The types of businesses themselves are also diversifying. Fast-food chains aren’t all American-standard burger and fries joints anymore. They’re specializing and offering different types of international cuisine. Beauty franchises are broadening their focus, opening not only salons but blow-dry bars for people who just want their hair styled, not cut. Franchised fitness centers are expanding from simple box gyms into cycling, CrossFit, and activity-based fitness concepts.

Offering a familiar face

Consumers trust franchises; they offer safe havens of consistent quality, products, and services. When you walk into a franchise location, you know what to expect from the atmosphere, products, and price range. They are a comfortable staple of American business that, even as trends continue to change, will be sticking around and growing for many, many years to come.