As more women consider entrepreneurship to take great control over their destiny, not all will start a business from scratch. More and more women are investing and running a franchise business.The reason for this is that franchising has become so broad-based that almost every conceivable business can be franchised. This has given women more opportunity to pick a business that they can not only be passionate about, but one that allows them to achieve greater work/life balance.
Franchising is simply a network of interdependent business relationships that allow a number of people to share a brand, a successful method of doing business, a proven marketing and distribution system, buying power and most importantly to enjoy lower risk and higher profits (and resale values).
The key players in this relationship include the franchisor and the franchisee. The franchisor’s role is to increase awareness of the brand, create processes, systems, structures, products, marketing campaigns, training and support to help the franchisees increase market share. The franchisee’s role is to follow the proven operating system providing excellent service to their target customers in their respective local territory that is consistent with the original intent of the franchisor. Overall, the franchise relationship works best when there is mutual respect between franchisors and franchisees.
According to the NatWest/British Franchise Association Survey 2008, there are approximately 809 active franchise systems generating an estimated £12.4 billion to the country’s GDP last year. The industry grew at 15% whereas the UK economy only grew by 3.1%. Other noteworthy facts about franchising in the UK as outlined in the report include:
- Franchise systems on average have been operating for 11 years;
- Approximately 383,000 people representing 1.3% of the working population are working in franchising businesses;
- The mean average annual sales per franchise unit is approximately £360,000; and
- Nine in ten franchisees (91%) claim their business traded profitably in 2007.
In terms of demographics, the report which highlights the 24th annual research study among franchisors and franchisees, points out that franchising is gradually moving away from the white, male dominated stereotype. In fact, increasingly, franchising is attracting more women and people from ethnic communities. A quarter (25%) of new entrants are of Asian background, with the majority of those coming from the British Indian community. Overall, 12% of franchisees are Asian.
Women currently make up 25% of all franchisees. However, as the years progress, this number should steadily increase as the report goes on to indicate that women make up over a third of the new recruits entering franchising compared with an eighth ten years ago. This change is being driven by the growth of franchise brands in the personal service sector, where women make up 61% of all franchisees. Franchise brands in this sector as defined by the European Franchise Federation Classifications are those related to: hair & beauty, fitness and weight, care & education services, mobile & home distributions, computer & telephone services and ‘other’ personal services.
Women are turning to franchising as it is a sound way to create wealth and it provides greater flexibility to “pedal at your own speed” while juggling the demands of work and family. And the increased number of franchise brands has given women the opportunity to pick the kind of business they want to be in, whether it’s one that requires a great deal of time and lots of hours per week or one that is low-key and part-time.
Furthermore, not only does it provide women with the opportunity to be their own boss while minimising the risk of starting up from scratch, they can do so while benefiting from the training and support offered by the franchisor as well as other franchisees within the system. Owning a franchise is like being in a big fraternity or family – an environment from which most women naturally enjoy being a part of. A franchise provides the help and guidance of a big company along with the control and flexibility of a small business.
Irrespective of gender, critical to the success for any franchisee is their willingness to follow the proven operation system and taking responsibility for driving the business forward. Thus you need to be self motivated and have good self confidence to be a top performing franchisee. This isn’t a problem for most women as they have been demonstrating these qualities with great vigour in the workplace for decades — competing against barriers to the benefit of their employers — and are now using these powerful strengths to benefit themselves, their families and their work-life after being awarded a franchise.