So-Called “Dirty Jobs”: Recession-Proof Franchises in Disguise?

When investigating business opportunities, it can often be a wise move to look for recession-proof franchises. Will the company do well even in challenging times? You may be surprised to learn that there are many recession-proof franchises that people consider “dirty jobs” to avoid. Their loss can be your gain! These businesses prosper even in a tough economy because there are some tasks that people are just unlikely to do for themselves. These opportunities frequently boast high margins, strong and consistent demand, and low competition. That’s a sure recipe for success in any business climate.

Few if any of these recession-proof franchises actually require the owner to get their hands dirty. The franchisee will typically hire people to do the work so that s/he can focus on marketing and administrative aspects of the business. Here are four fantastic “dirty jobs” to consider:

Restoration Services

These recession-proof franchises are perennial favorites for two reasons. First, the problems they address exist regardless of the state of the economy. Fires burn and cause smoke damage, pipes burst and flood basements, and sewers back up. These (unfortunate) events provide a steady stream of work for restoration companies even in a tough economy. Second, the cost of restoration is usually paid for by insurance companies. It doesn’t matter whether the homeowner is thriving at work or out of a job, as long as they’re insured. The insurer is usually the one authorizing and paying for the work. It may not be pretty to address these disasters, but it can be lucrative!

Cleaning Duct Work

Residential and commercial properties tend to have extensive duct work, sheet metal, and piping running through walls and ceilings. Whether they exist to move air for heating and cooling, vent dryers and other appliances, or facilitate wiring, ducts can be magnets for dust, dirt, and dead critters. They require semi-regular cleaning to manage air quality and prevent the accumulation of pollutants and allergens. Though duct-cleaning equipment isn’t terribly expensive, it is more of an investment than the typical homeowner or landlord is likely to make. This type of business usually brings in recurring income as customers will contract for regular periodic maintenance after an initial deep cleaning.

Commercial Janitorial Services

Because all commercial office buildings need to be cleaned on a regular basis, we can include janitorial services on our list of recession-proof franchises. Landlords usually contract out this service for an entire building and include the expense when calculating the maintenance costs in each lease. While a large portion of providers may be local “mom and pop” shops, as many as 30% of all contracts turn over annually. This type of business is likely to require only a relatively small investment by the franchisee, who usually performs the cleaning along with some helpers. Or it can be a fantastic executive opportunity for a master license franchisee who contracts to develop a larger area. The cleaning is typically superficial (empty the wastebaskets and vacuum), so it’s quick and easy to accomplish. You rarely even need to get your hands dirty!

Junk Removal

Regardless of the state of the economy, people will always have things they need to get rid of. Whether it’s an old couch, a dead refrigerator, or a roll of dingy carpet, there are some things best left to a professional with a truck. Junk hauling franchises have brought professionalism to this deeply fragmented industry. Unreliable and/or unorganized haulers running their businesses from rusty, old pickup trucks no longer dominate the industry. Many junk removal companies even appeal to “green” consumers because they maximize the recycling aspect of their work.


These are just a few examples of “dirty jobs” that could be reliable, safe opportunities in disguise. Take the time you need to make sure you find a franchise that thrives even in tough times. That way, you’ll be comfortable regardless of the state of the economy.