Franchisor's Corner: Step-by-Step Guide for Joining a Franchise Association

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step by step guide for joining franchise association

We strongly recommend franchisors join a franchise association to give their franchise network more credibility. This is our guide for doing so.

In some countries, franchising is regulated by the government. But in the UK, this is not the case. Joining a franchise association is voluntary and you don’t need to do it to become a franchisor. So that begs the question of why you would join one in the first place. In this article we will take a quick look at the advantages of joining a franchise association and provide a guide for joining two of the biggest names in the industry.

The benefits of joining a franchise association

  • They have an established and trusted reputation
  • You can share best practices
  • It becomes easier to recruit franchisees as you have been accredited
  • You can network with other franchise brands

A guide to joining a franchise association

You need to take some time to decide which franchise association(s) you want to join. They will all offer similar perks, but there will be some significant differences that might appeal to your individual circumstances. You also need to consider how much you are prepared to pay for a membership, as this also varies slightly.

Below we have provided a rundown of two well-known franchise associations, their histories, what they offer, how you join, and importantly, what you need to do or currently possess.

1. The British Franchise Association (bfa)


The bfa has been regulating the franchise industry since 1977. It has created standards that comply with the European Code of Ethics for franchising. The bfa claims to be the voice of ethical franchising in the UK as its members must go through a vigorous accreditation process.

What you need to do

All full and associate members of the bfa need to prove that their business is:

  • Transferable: you can transfer the know-how to a new operator easily.
  • Viable: the product or service is saleable and profitable.
  • Ethical: the franchise is structured and operated in accordance with ethical principles set out in the European Code of Ethics for Franchising.
  • Disclosed: all information involved in the franchise proposition and contract is disclosed without ambiguity to prospective franchisees.

As part of the application, you will need to prove how you meet these standards and provide evidence of this where necessary.

Becoming a member of the bfa involves a thorough accreditation of your history and standards. You commit to comply with the terms of the following bfa policies:

  • The Code of Ethical Conduct
  • The Disciplinary Procedure
  • The Complaints Procedure

What are my options?

You could decide to become a Full Member, Associate Member, Provisional Member or UK Developer.

To become a Full Member you need to prove you have been trading successfully in a number of different areas over a certain period of time. It’s the same for the Associate Member, but you don’t need to be operating for as long, have an as large network or the same range of experiences. Associate Members work their way towards Full Membership.

You will benefit from:

  • The bfa member logo
  • Attending over 50 annual events
  • Franchise forums
  • Bespoke workshops
  • Discounted coaching services
  • Social campaigns
  • Plus much more

Join the franchise association

On the bfa website you can fill in application forms for the different membership options.

2. Approved Franchise Association (AFA)


The AFA was born in 2012 to support the thriving UK franchise industry with credible and affordable accreditation. It is a self-regulatory, voluntary organisation that provides a support network for franchisors and its seal of approval to eligible franchise businesses.

What you need to do

To be accepted for the full AFA membership you will need to undertake rigorous checks, including being trading for over a year and submitting your accounts to Companies House.

You need to prove that your business is:

  • Ethical: your franchise business needs to abide by the principles documented within the European Code of Ethics for Franchising.
  • Sustainable: you need to be able to show there is a demand for the product or service, as well as financial success that can support a franchise network
  • Transferrable: you need to have a system in place that will facilitate the exchange of information between you and your franchisees.

What are my options?

The AFA offers both a preliminary membership and a full franchisor membership. Let’s break these down more below.

The preliminary membership is available to new franchisors who are just entering the industry. The franchise association will examine their business model and get feedback from the franchisees. This is a very helpful service, as during your first year of trading, it will mentor and support you as much as you need. Then, after one year, if you have a proven and sustainable business model, you will be eligible for a full membership.

In return of your membership you will have:

  • Full accreditation with the use of the AFA seal
  • A strong support network
  • Ongoing guidance
  • Social media presence
  • Networking opportunities
  • Plus lots more

Join the franchise association

To kick-start the process of applying for a membership, you need to complete the enquiry form on its website. The AFA will then get in touch with you to request more information and start the application process.

>> Read more:

Take your pick of franchise association today

Do franchisors need to join a franchise association? No. Is it a very good idea? Yes. Hopefully you now have a better idea of how you can join a franchise association and what they look for in their members. If you’ve found this helpful, check out our latest articles for franchisors.

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