Pip Wilkins, CEO of the British Franchise Association, explains why women and young entrepreneurs are more ahead than ever before in the franchising sector.
I have worked for the British Franchise Association for 20 years, and year on year I have seen the franchising industry grow, not only economically, but also in its diversification and its general culture.
After 20 years in this business, I have witnessed surges in diversity amongst franchisees and franchisors, with more minorities ever before taking charge of their personal and professional direction. I have relished the opportunity to mix with people of all characters and backgrounds this year, giving me a window to see to where franchising will go in 2019.
The 2018 bfa NatWest Franchise Survey stats have also reinforced this, with many underrepresented groups in business driving economic growth from a franchise standpoint. This includes women and under 30s who are increasing within the sector, with 37% of all new franchisees in the past two years being women and 18% of all franchisees now being under 30. Also encouragingly, of new franchisees under the age of 30 in the last two years, 52% were female.
“The franchisor gave me a business foundation, but they also enable me to add my personal touch to my business.”
Franchising has always typically helped people who might not have the business acumen and know-how that most business startups need. James Griffin, a franchisee with courier service InXpress, explains how his lack of experience did not hold him back.
When he was 27, James left the Royal Navy, looking for his next career opening. The following year, he was running his own business, having joined the InXpress franchise network. InXpress have a campaign, specifically targeting under-30s, called Young Guns, which offers particular training and a discount for young prospective franchisees taking on a unit once the training has been completed.
“When I first started with InXpress, I had no experience in logistics or sales,” James says. I had served in the military, so by rights, there’s no way I should be successfully running my own business. InXpress made it possible for me to start achieving some of my personal goals.”
Most franchises offer workshops, training and bootcamps to prepare franchisees for their business, something that James benefitted from. “The InXpress Boot Camp introduced me to the ‘7 steps to activation’ plan. I felt thrown in at the deep end at first, but InXpress kept me focused.”
Not only do most franchises offer training, but they also open up access to a large network of franchisees who are ready and willing to lend a helping hand, as James explains: “Following their guidelines really worked as I grew my business. Being mentored by one of the more established franchisees also helped. I knew I could talk about any aspect of my business.”
Franchising is a route for many who find that other routes are closed to them. In her mid-twenties, Amy Patel-Popat, along with her husband Kev, invested in a Right at Home franchise, a domiciliary care franchise. Having grown up in an entrepreneurial family, Amy is relishing building her own Right at Home business.
“I’m from a family of business owners; since a young age, I’ve wanted to go into business myself. Franchising offers the opportunity to achieve this goal. The franchisor gave me a business foundation, but they also enable me to add my personal touch to my business.
“As a young woman, I can honestly say franchising is an encouraging option. You have loads of support to help you be successful. It is still a man’s world out there, but there are many industries that actually need the female vibe. We have something different to bring to the table.”
2019 could be the year that you make franchising your future, helping enable the next generation of franchisees. Attending a franchise exhibition is a great way to talk to the professionals, receive valuable insight and advice, and witness the many available business models. From pet care to hair and beauty, there is something for everyone.
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