It’s easy to see why franchising appeals to women. The flexibility and freedom that comes with being the boss are hard to find in more traditional employment. This is why women are increasingly leaving their corporate jobs behind and becoming entrepreneurs with the help of the franchise model.
Women in Franchising: The Statistics
While some choose to build their own business from scratch, others have decided that starting a franchise is the best route to business ownership. Franchising contributes in excess of £17 billion to the UK economy, which is an increase of £2 billion since 2015 (The BFA-NatWest Franchise Survey). Around 37 percent of new franchisees are female, which is a 20 percent increase since 2015. And 65 percent of people employed in franchise businesses are women.
Women may be in the minority when it comes to the number of female franchisees. However, whether they choose to franchise their own companies or break into a different industry, there are more and more women paving the way for others to follow suit.
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Women in Franchising: Why female franchisees are rising
Just as women are discovering the benefits of franchising, franchise brands all over the world are also recognising the skills that women can bring to the role of a franchisee. So, what are the attributes that make women natural franchisees?
Five attributes that make women great franchisees
It’s thought that, in general, women are skilled at doing more than one thing at a time. And research carried out by the HSE Neurolinguistics Laboratory in Moscow found that it’s more than just an old wives’ tale. It proved that women find it easier than men to multi-task and switch between activities.
This is an excellent skill to have when you're a franchisee. The numerous and varied tasks that need to be completed when you’re running a franchise mean that you may have to switch from dealing with a customer complaint to mopping the toilet floors in a heartbeat.
2. Eager learners
Women tend to be great learners and generally take their personal development very seriously. This is an important factor when starting a franchise. Effectively, the franchisor teaches you how to follow their tried and tested business model so that you can enjoy the success that they have.
The franchise model is based on franchisees’ ability to duplicate the franchisor’s business system, which is shared through initial and ongoing training, mentoring and coaching. Being keen learners means that women are already predisposed to becoming successful franchisees.
Hiring the right people is one of the most critical tasks that a franchisee must undertake. Recruiting employees that are a good fit with the franchise culture is essential for your business and their longevity as a member of staff.
Developing a robust recruitment process is obviously key to finding the right people, but so is having good intuition. You may have a prospective employee who answers all the interview questions well and comes across really professionally, but you just have a feeling that they’re not right for your franchise.
Women can trust their gut instinct and often choose with their heart over their head. Although this can be detrimental in some circumstances, when hiring it can be an advantage.
4.Good relationship builders
Whether it’s at a networking event, in a one-to-one discussion or even on an online forum, women are good at building rapport and developing relationships. They’re also great listeners, so they can understand what their employees or franchisor need and then make it happen. From this, trust is built, which makes for a healthy and lasting relationship.
Passion may not be a trait that’s sought after in an office or on the factory floor, but when you’re starting a franchise, it’s actively encouraged. Having strong emotions can work in your favour when you’re leading people, and women are often very in tune with their feelings.
Having high-level emotional intelligence and passion are great attributes to possess as a franchisee. Being able to keep staff motivated is essential for any business, including even the most established franchise brands.
We now look in more detail at why women should start a franchise. Most of this can be applied to men too.
Why start a franchise?
It can be difficult choosing what to sacrifice in a busy and hectic lifestyle. Is it time with family? Or how much time you spend at the office? Or maybe it’s self-care? The latter is important in order to look after our mental, physical and emotion health and is often overlooked. It has been found to reduce stress and anxiety and improve happiness.
It can often feel like something has to give. Franchising allows you to have control over the hours you work, giving you much-needed flexibility. This, combined with the independence that comes with being able to manage a business around personal commitments whilst having the support of a franchisor, is thought of as one of the main benefits of franchising.
Follow your dreams
Franchising can allow women to follow their passions and make money from something they enjoy. It could be that the franchise is more of a passion project run part-time on the side of another job. Or, you might want your full-time income to come from franchising. Regardless, franchising provides a way to make your dreams a reality and put your skills to use.
Be your own boss
One of the main advantages of owning a franchise is being your own boss. Maybe you’re sick and tired of having someone to answer to or someone not taking your opinions seriously? Being your own boss not only means you will reap financial rewards but can also mean ditching the dreaded morning commute too.
However, owning a franchise can mean you have less creative freedom than an independent start-up. So, if you want to be able to do exactly what you want with the business, franchising isn’t the best option for you, as this ultimately comes down to decisions made by the franchisor.
Sense of community
There is a huge sense of community and belonging when you own a franchise because you can share experiences with other franchisees. Despite operating in different locations, you should be able to understand what others are going through. This, combined with the training and guidance that is outlined in the franchise agreement, should mean you have a strong support network.
On top of the support of the other franchisees and franchisor, there is also the support of the wider franchising community.
The role of the ‘Encouraging Women into Franchising’ (EWIF)
The EWIF is a not-for-profit organisation that has three aims:
- To encourage women to start a franchise
- To get female entrepreneurs to consider franchising their existing business
- To support franchisors to attract more female franchisees
The organisation joins forces with professionals in the franchise industry to make sure that members receive valuable guidance and support. As well as inspiring women to enter the franchise industry, the EWIF also commissions research into women in franchising. The findings of this research help raise awareness of the challenges women encounter in franchising, which is then promoted through the media.
EWIF National Conference
Every year, the EWIF holds a National Conference open to members, supporters and guests. The 2019 conference will take place on the 19th of September at the Mercure Brandon Hall Hotel & Spa in Coventry.
The tickets to the conference are free and give EWIF members a chance to meet and network, as well as hear from inspirational guest speakers. Representatives from the most prominent franchise brands also attend to share their developments and why women should consider joining their businesses.
If you’re already in the franchise industry, the event also gives you the chance to grow through meeting other franchisors and franchisees. You can obtain advice from business owners who have experienced the same issues that you may be facing.
For wannabe franchisees, attending EWIF meetings and conferences is a brilliant introduction to the industry and gives an excellent opportunity to speak to those already enjoying the benefits that franchising can bring.
Obviously, men also have skills and attributes that make them excellent franchisees. But women do bring unique qualities to the role of a franchisee. Thankfully, franchise brands are beginning to understand that diversity throughout their company can increase profits, and so are keen to improve their efforts to recruit and keep female franchisees.
All this means that there’s probably never been a better time to make your dreams come true and become one of the growing numbers of female franchisees.
This is supported by Pip Wilkins, CEO at the British Franchise Association, who said: “Many of our top franchisors and franchisees in the UK are female but we want to encourage even more women to consider franchising as a route to self-employment. Franchising is the perfect way to go into business but with a support network there to help and assist you.”
Becky Martin, Point Franchise ©