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Women and franchising

Women in franchising

When it comes to increasing the number of women in business, franchising has a strong part to play.

Some 30% of the UK's 40,000 franchisee businesses are owned and run by women, according to the bfa NatWest Franchise Survey. That's higher than the rate of female SME ownership across the UK - 18%, according to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills - but there is still more to do to make sure that franchising is seen as a great option for women who want to start their own business.

Women in the USA are twice as likely to be entrepreneurially active as women in the UK - if the UK could achieve the same levels of female entrepreneurship as the US, Britain would gain three quarters of a million more businesses.

Women are sometimes portrayed as looking for ‘family friendly’ or part time business opportunities but we see a huge variety in the types and sizes of businesses owned and operated by women in the franchise sector. At the bfa’s Women in Franchising conference in November 2015, the theme was ‘Breaking the Barriers’ – aiming to help to spread the franchising success story. A panel of successful female franchisors and franchisees advised delegates about the way they had built their businesses through franchising, sharing some of the highs and lows along the way.

Over the last ten years, there have been an increasing number of female finalists and winners of the prestigious bfa HSBC Franchisee of the Year Awards and their achievements are well-documented and recognised.

Women like Sue Caulfield of Metro Rod, a finalist in 2015, operate in what traditionally has been seen as a ‘man’s world’. Sue took over the franchise on her own after her marriage broke up and has overcome serious illness - including a double lung transplant - to build a highly successful franchise in Oxford, now employing nine staff and running six vans. She is building a franchise for the future, with her daughter and son-in-law also in the business.

As for franchisors, there are numerous national and international brands that have been founded and grown by women here in the UK, or are led and run by them. One of the original ‘women in franchising’ is Pam Bader OBE – CEO of long established cleaning franchise, Molly Maid. Pam was elected Chair of the British Franchise Association back in 1996, at a time when there were far fewer women in the top jobs in business or franchising and she has championed and encouraged women ever since.

Women have different ambitions and aims for their businesses of course but it is clear that the team working nature of franchising really can lend itself to the way in which many women want to work – with a network of fellow franchisees and support from the franchisor.

The first step is to identify the sort of business that you really believe in and can see yourself working in on a day to day basis. Make sure you do plenty of research, looking at all the options to ensure that you are make the right choice with the right support.