Why go franchising?

Why is franchising a good option for the public sector? The British Franchise Association explains how the franchising sector has changed in recent years and what opportunities it presents for the public sector

Deciding to become your own boss is not an easy choice. The lack of stability and support can be enough for anybody to hesitate and abandon their dream. This, coupled with daunting statistics from Fundera showing that 20 per cent of small businesses fail in their first year, 30 per cent of in their second year, and 50 per cent after five years, is enough to make anyone think twice.

Franchising, however, can be just the ticket to get you into business ownership. It is a gateway to self-employment, achieved through the use of proven business systems and an established brand identity.

It offers a safer route to being your own boss, without the added pressure of having to come up with a business idea and build a system from the ground up that can typically take years to iron out. It is not a guaranteed ticket to success, and with any opportunity to succeed, hard work and determination must be put in. But you can be comforted by the fact that only two per cent fail due to economic reasons every year for the past 10 years.

Going into franchising can be just as life-changing as starting your own business, and it will take considerable work to find the right franchise model for you. Great care and due diligence is needed to ensure you’re investing your time and money into a business that you understand, and are passionate about.

As of 2018, there are now 935 franchise systems registered in the UK, varying from dog-sitting to children's educational classes to health and fitness to coffee shops. Franchising continues to break the mould and allows people to invest in a business that is suitable for them.

Many people go into franchising to take back control of their lives and career. As your own boss, you decide your schedule and can work to family or other commitments. Franchise systems are reflecting these needs, with four in 10 systems now being able to operate from home.

If you are tired of putting in blood, sweat and tears in a company, only for someone higher up to benefit, then franchising could be for you. Running your own business means all the hard work you put in will all come back to you, so set yourself your own goals and expectations and reap the rewards.

A record breaking year
Even in economic downturns, franchising has always managed to persevere, with 2018 being a record breaking year for the franchising industry, with £17.2 billion generated and 710,000 people employed in the UK, according to the 2018 bfa NatWest Franchise Survey.

Franchising continually attracts people of all walks of life, as it is not just for people with years of business education and experience, but rather passion, determination, and a desire to run a business. Franchisors have the proven concept, and now want to recruit individuals who will share in their vision.

According to the 2018 bfa NatWest Franchise Survey, franchising has never been more diverse, with the results showing that 37 per cent of new franchisees being women, and 18 per cent of all franchisees being under 30. Multi-unit ownership is also on the rise, proving that franchising can be a perfect model for entrepreneurship. The adaptability of franchising means that it can cater to a variety of needs, commitments and goals. So whether you want to get into business ownership at 20 or 60, it’s down to you to make it happen.

The role of the bfa
As the franchising industry grows, regulation and guidance is needed more than ever to ensure that people fully understand the franchising concept, as well as being able to differentiate between the ethical franchises and the not so ethical.

The British Franchise Association (bfa) has never held a more important role in being able to help people achieve this. The association’s goal is to be the voice of education in franchising, and be a guiding light for those who need it.

The bfa was formed more than 40 years ago, set up to be the self-regulating trade association, accrediting a company’s suitability for membership based on a strict criteria. This standards-based approach forms the cornerstone of the association, and ethical franchising, to this day. The criteria for bfa franchisor membership involves the structure of the business, the franchise agreement, available support and training, proven success and full transparency. This is to ensure that prospective franchisees will have no nasty surprises and can be sure that everything is out on the table to make a balanced decision based on facts.

It is important to note, however, that a franchise without bfa membership does not mean that they are a bad franchise, just that they have potentially chosen not to put their business up against our rigorous accreditation. Having the bfa badge shows to potential franchisees that the business has met minimum standards.

Due diligence
Finding the right franchise for you will take time, and is certainly not something to be rushed. It’s going to be a commitment much like a marriage so be sure they are the one. Research needs be carried out on existing franchising systems and the best place to start would be the bfa franchisor directory in which you can filter according to industry.

Online research is a great way to begin your journey, but it is impossible to determine a vibe from a computer screen. Meeting with franchisors face-to-face will allow the opportunity to understand their business and vision, as well being able to have that initial gut feeling. If you want to meet with franchisors in a casual setting, then consider visiting a franchise exhibition. The bfa is in partnership with franchise exhibitions throughout the year and only bfa members or franchises accredited by the bfa to exhibit can attend, so you can be sure that you’re meeting with ethical businesses.

Not only can you meet with franchisors, but also with affiliates of the bfa such as banks, solicitors and consultants, all specialising in franchising. Meeting with franchise experts usually cost money, but at an exhibition, it is completely free to attend. Prospective franchisees can also benefit from the free seminars and workshops that are run to help them on their journey.

When you have found ‘the one’
So now ‘the one’ has been found, then what? It’s time to speak with their existing franchisees. Ethical franchisors should be happy to hand over a complete list of their franchisees, so you can gain a clear and balanced picture of what life as a franchisee will be like after speaking to them.

You should be extra wary of any franchisor who discourages speaking to their other franchisees or selects a certain few. Franchisors should also be happy to answer any and all questions that you have, especially regarding sensitive topics such as money or disputes. A franchise commitment goes both ways so a good franchisor will want the right person on their team as much as you want to join the right franchise.

Franchisors will want to know that you and your family are on board with this decision as it is one that will affect all of your lives. Significant money and time will be spent on making the business a success, so be sure that your loved ones are 100 per cent behind you.

Franchisors will also want you to succeed, and many franchise models will have training and support systems in place so that from day one until your very last you will have the backup you need. And let’s not forget that joining a franchise means you a joining a network of business owners who are all working under the same brand umbrella, so if you succeed, they succeed.

A system of support
The franchise industry ultimately means that you are in business for yourself, but not by yourself. It’s an industry synonymous with support and encouragement, so never forget that this will be at your disposal once you have joined your ideal franchise. The adaptability, flexibility and supportive nature of franchising is truly unique.

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