The thought of taking maternity leave as a franchisee can be daunting; you may not know how to take time off without compromising the performance of your franchise unit. Or you might be worried about losing your edge as a business owner while spending months away from your desk. Here’s our guide on how to be a successful franchisee and a mum at the same time.
Before we go any further, it’s important to put aside your concerns about taking maternity leave as a franchisee. You can do this. One in 10 mothers who return to employment after time off go on to launch their own business to gain flexibility, which demonstrates just how capable new mums are (OneCom).
Taking maternity leave as a franchisee
The Covid-19 pandemic has shifted the landscape when it comes to working mums. A new emphasis on remote work has provided new opportunities for women in franchising. But, despite predictions of a ‘coronababy boom’ at the start of the first lockdown, birth rates appear to have declined.
Studies have shown 34 percent of women wanted to delay pregnancy or have fewer children as a result of the coronavirus (Guttmacher). However, there may be a surge of births after restrictions are eased, mirroring the baby boom after each world war.
With both the pandemic-related complications and the potential birth rate increase over the coming years, it’s vital women in franchising know how to take time off as a new mother. See our article about your rights to maternity leave as a franchisee, or continue reading this guide for expert tips on managing the transition.
How do you prepare to take maternity leave?
1. Check your franchise agreement - Your first step in the process should be reviewing your franchise contract to check for any clauses impacting your ability to take maternity leave. The franchisor may have introduced a minimum performance target or number of weekly working hours.
2. Talk to your franchisor - Whether or not you’re able to take maternity leave without breaching your contract, you’ll need to discuss the coming months with your franchisor. You may need their permission to step back, hire a manager to take over your duties or outsource tasks. They might also have a scheme allowing other franchisees to operate within your territory for a slice of your income.
3. Review your roles - If you’re going to hand over some or all of your duties to other people, you can make sure you delegate tasks effectively by analysing your workload. Consider the factors impacting each job and the information your team needs to know to complete tasks to a high standard. This is a great opportunity to empower your staff and support their professional development.
4. Tell your clients or customers - While you might think it’s better to conceal the fact you’ll be away from your desk, honesty is always the best policy. Reasonable people will understand and even be excited for your big news. As long as you’ve put measures in place to make sure they continue to receive a high-quality experience, there’s no reason to hide your plans.
>> Read more:
- Women In Franchising: Stats and Insights About a Rapidly Changing Industry
- Women in franchising: Why female franchisees are rising
- Gender pay gap in franchising
- Franchise Success Stories: Women in Franchising
- Mythbusters: "There's No Such Thing as a Working Mum”
- Keeping mum: know your rights about maternity leave
5. Introduce KPIs - If you’re entrusting your team to handle operations on your behalf, you must put some measures in place to monitor performance while you’re away. Then, if you notice things slipping, you can salvage the situation before it’s too late. Consider key performance indicators to help you accurately gauge your unit’s ongoing success.
How to take time off as a new mum
6. Keep communication going - Once you’ve started your maternity leave, it’s down to you to stay in touch with the people managing your franchise unit. Although it’s easy to become consumed by your new life, and you’re likely to feel exhausted most of the time, it’s vital you stay connected with your team.
Now that Zoom meetings have become the norm, it’s really easy to grab a 20-minute chat with someone. And without all of the commuting, people have more time in their diaries.
—Amber Faulkner, Head of New Business and Marketing at Publicis.Poke
7. Address your changed mindset - Motherhood may have given you fresh ideas and perspectives, which can be incredibly useful when it comes to growing your business. Think about how you can implement your new approach in your unit, such as nurturing a more supportive or collaborative culture.
8. Consider a part-time return - Many franchisees find it useful to ease back into work, so find a routine that works for you and your franchisor. You can always adapt it as time goes on.
9. Prepare for your return - If you’ve been out of the loop, you should try to get in touch with your team ahead of time and familiarise yourself with any new processes or passwords, staff changes or upcoming events. This step should take off some of the pressure for your first day back.
Speak to like-minded people about how you’re feeling and share stories about your child… If I have a bad night's sleep, I’ll mention it at the start of a meeting. Be patient with yourself… take the slower lane for your first weeks back. Be super kind to yourself – have tea and biscuits at least twice a day.
—Jade Tomlin, Tribal Worldwide Creative Director
>> Read more:
How to be a successful franchisee and a mum at the same time
10. Consider your past successes - You will get back into the swing of life as a franchisee - even if you don’t believe it at the moment. Recalling your past achievements should remind you of your abilities, boost your confidence and help you reset.
11. Involve your child - Although you may think it’s best to keep your work and home life separate, juggling the two can be almost impossible in the early days. By involving your baby in franchise processes, you reduce the pressure, as well as any ‘mum or work guilt’ you might feel for neglecting one or the other.
I’ve always said that if someone wants to see me, my baby needs to come. All of my meetings have obliged, and the result is that I have breastfed in boardrooms and cafes across the city, with entrepreneurs, journalists and CEOs who don’t even blink an eye.
—Lucy Werner, a PR company founder
12. Talk - There are probably people close to you who have been in the same situation. While it’s common practice to shun personal discussions for professionalism, talking things through can hugely improve your mental health and ability to manage your new lifestyle.
Connect with any parenting networks in your organisation and if there isn't one, consider starting one or consider joining a union. Reach out to other online groups for working mums. There is strength and solidarity in numbers.
—Joeli Brearley, Founder and Chief Executive of Pregnant Then Screwed
More guidance on taking maternity leave as a franchisee
We believe every woman has the right to take maternity leave without compromising her career. Find more information about establishing and growing a profitable and rewarding franchise unit right here, with our selection of data-driven business guides.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©