The Franchise Magazine leads the way for 25 years

The Franchise Magazine has undergone extensive editorial, visual and technological developments since it was launched by Franchise Development Services in 1985. Tiffany Brooking looks back on the rise and revolution of the invaluable franchise magazine on its silver anniversary.

The debut issue of The Franchise Magazine hit the presses 25 years ago after Franchise Development Services' (FDS) founders, Roy and Judy Seaman, decided to produce a publication which would play a pivotal role in promoting the opportunities and advantages the franchise industry could offer.

The publication would be beneficial to owners of successful businesses considering expansion by franchising and individuals considering the advantages of owning and operating a franchise business.
Roy says: "Since the first issue of The Franchise Magazine 25 years ago, we are proud to have helped over 1,000 franchisors to replicate their success at both national and international franchise levels. During that time we have simultaneously helped more than 10,000 of our readers to own and operate a franchise of their choice."

In March 1983, FDS printed a simple two-page offering entitled The FDS Newsletter, in an effort to test the franchise market and gauge public interest. Having received positive feedback from the readers, Roy and Judy decided to produce regular newsletters, increasing their sizes with each issue.

Prior to the publication of The Franchise Magazine, FDS had printed The UK Franchise Directory in January 1984 which contained information about 600 franchising opportunities within the UK. Such was its impact, The UK Franchise Directory received the Aslib Economic and Business Information Group Prize for The Best New Business Information Source, for its invaluable contribution to the franchise market.

Launch issue
The first, somewhat modest, issue of The Franchise Magazine was published in 1985. Containing just 20 pages, the first edition featured fast food franchise PJ's Drive-in on the colour cover, while the remaining content was in black and white.

The magazine contained editorial and adverts featuring then up and coming franchise opportunities, some of which are still successfully trading today including domestic cleaning franchise MOLLY MAID.

Without a subscription database to send the magazine to, Roy took it upon himself to personally ensure The Franchise Magazine was distributed to people and places of influence. He would regularly hand out The Franchise Magazine in the first class carriages on the Norwich to London Liverpool Street train, at relevant exhibitions and even at selected Chambers of Commerce events.

The first full colour cover format of The Franchise Magazine appeared in winter 1985. With the content increasing with each issue, this issue contained 38 pages and announced the launch of FDS Southern, the first of many FDS branches to be launched in the UK.

To assist with the editorial development of The Franchise Magazine, in 1987 FDS appointed highly experienced journalist Dr Dennis Chaplin as the first in-house Editor. With the encouragement and advice of Dr Chaplin and FDS, national newspapers The Daily Mail and The Daily Express featured franchise information in their classification sections, further exposing the benefits of franchising.

After several successful issues of The Franchise Magazine, FDS approached nationwide newsagent retailer WHSmith to further the publication's reach by being stocked on British newsstands. Determined to produce a successful and forward thinking magazine, FDS was one of the first companies to embrace electronic desktop publishing and in the spring of 1988 the first 'desktop' version of The Franchise Magazine was published.

After a year of market research, magazine designs and content analysis, The Franchise Magazine hit the UK newsstands in winter of 1988. This resulted in a nationwide readership and for many years The Franchise Magazine was responsible for the vast majority of franchise recruitment.

Newsstand debut
The newsstand launch of The Franchise Magazine was held at the Business Design Centre Islington Exhibition Centre. Richard Branson attended the event and proudly held up The Franchise Magazine and helped to launch the title.

To ensure The Franchise Magazine was reaching the desired clientele, FDS focused on educating professionals about the concept and opportunities available in franchising, promoting brands ranging from £5,000 to £250,000.

Having successfully created one of the leading business franchise magazines in the UK, FDS was now ready to expand its influential magazine portfolio worldwide and in 1992 the Franchise International magazine was created. With the USA being one of the world leaders of brand and franchise enterprises such as the Avis, Herts, Burger King and McDonald's, FDS was keen to capitalise on this bountiful market.

The magazine goes online
It was in 2000 when FDS embraced the power of online publishing and launched the Franchise-International.net website, followed by TheFranchiseMagazine.net in 2006. These websites, which are updated daily, contain franchise opportunities, informative articles, industry news and the actual magazines content.

To coincide with the introduction of the online publications, FDS produced digital versions of the print magazines. The convenience and accessibility of the websites enables the masses to research and be educated about the exciting prospects which franchising offers.

"From the various letters, communications and telephone calls from readers over the years it would appear that The Franchise Magazine has provided an extremely valuable service by promoting some of the most interesting and genuine business format franchises," says Roy.

The Franchise Magazine today
Today, more than 70,000 people receive the digital edition of The Franchise Magazine and over 20,000 regularly read the online version, this is in addition to the 20,000 copies printed and distributed to newsagents, supermarkets and exhibitions each edition.

Today, The Franchise Magazine is a glossy, innovative and informative publication with each issue containing over 130 pages of insightful and invaluable franchise information. With a modern and fresh design, The Franchise Magazine has made a successful transition through the decades and is now the must read magazine for all in the franchise industry.

Roy adds: "After 25 years, The Franchise Magazine continues to develop and is still accepted as one of the leading magazines in the franchising world. Most importantly, the original purpose still stands, to promote the availability of genuine franchise format opportunities to the more serious and capable prospective franchise owners. Lets hope that over the next 25 years many of our readers of this anniversary edition will go on to become successful franchise owners."

Who we have helped over 25 years

MOLLY MAID
"MOLLY MAID advertised in the very first issue of The Franchise Magazine and the two businesses have grown successfully ever since. The volume and quality of leads that the magazine has generated for us over the years has been a major contributor to the growth of the MOLLY MAID network and we are very pleased not only to have this opportunity to congratulate The Franchise Magazine on 25 years of service to the franchise industry but also to say a special thank you to Gordon Patterson for the 25 years he has been associated with MOLLY MAID in helping to make the brand the success it is today. Well done Gordon!"
Pam Bader OBE CEO, Chief Executive

Snack-in-the-Box
"Snack-in-the-Box was launched in 1996 with the help and guidance of Gordon Patterson from FDS. The support was excellent from the outset and many franchise owners were recruited via The Franchise Magazine even before we attended our first franchise exhibition. Since then the business has grown from strength to strength and SITB now has over 100 franchise owners in the UK & Ireland. 14 years on and The Franchise Magazine and associated websites, continue to be a strong and reliable source of quality leads that convert into franchise owners. Congratulations to FDS and the team for your 25 years of solid franchisor support and guidance".
Matt O'Neil Franchise Sales Director

ActionCOACH
"On the back of The Franchise Magazine's 2004 story about the success of our franchise owners, featuring interviews with our business coaches, ActionCOACH has grown to more than 100 franchise owners in the UK. We are growing so fast, we want more people with passion and heart to meet the ever increasing needs of local business owners for guidance and thank The Franchise Magazine for the opportunity to publicise our rewarding business for positive and successful people, who love learning and helping people."
Ian Christelow, Managing Director

Merry Maids
"The support of The Franchise Magazine over the years has helped to promote the ServiceMaster Family of Brands. This has resulted in increased brand recognition and the addition of highly motivated new successful franchise owners."
Marcelle Ingrouille, Head of Franchising

Caremark
"I am in the process of building my second very successful franchise network and over the years have marketed the franchise opportunity in many different media including various publications and internet sites. In stringently monitoring the results, I have consistently found that The Franchise Magazine has been and continues to be the single most effective source of not just leads, but actual Franchise Owners. I continue to be extremely grateful to The Franchise Magazine, acknowledging that some 200 franchised offices would not have been achieved without the tremendous support from The Franchise Magazine and their team."
Kevin Lewis, Founder and Managing Director

London House
"We have enjoyed great support from all the team at FDS over 15 years. Their advice has added huge value to our business. Many congratulations on the 25th anniversary of The Franchise Magazine - the stand out publication in the Franchising Industry."
Godfrey Lancashire, Founder and Managing Director