Awareness of franchising in Scotland at all time high

If expansion in Scotland is still at the bottom of your 'to do' list perhaps you should rethink your growth strategy, suggests Rachel Spaul. With awareness of franchising in Scotland at an all time high and increasing attendance at the Glasgow franchise exhibition and at dedicated franchise seminars, the indicators suggest a vibrant and growing market awaiting new and exciting franchise concepts

A Growth Industry

According to a spokesperson for the Scottish Executive: 'The Scottish economy has been performing well in recent times.

'We have a stable macro-economic environment, with Scotland benefiting from its longest period of low and stable inflation since the '60s, with interest rates - that peaked at 15 per cent for a year in the early '90s - below 5 per cent.

'As Scotland is a vibrant open economy with access to larger UK and EU markets, it is a desirable location for international brands to expand into. The presence of international brands in Scotland can lead to greater choice for Scottish consumers, along with access to modern management practices and high quality suppliers for businesses. The Executive concentrates on creating the positive business environment that makes Scotland an attractive location to do business in through investment in education, skills and transport links.'

In line with UK expansion, franchising in Scotland continues to show steady year on year growth with a number of new home grown businesses, such as Platinum Limo Company, Crepe a Croissant, Autoshine Express and Survair, entering franchising.

As Business Gateway confirms: 'Awareness of franchising in Scotland is at an all time high, resulting in more people than ever before actively seeking further information.'

Scottish Enterprise, which helps businesses develop and grow by providing advice and guidance on all business development options, reported an increase in attendance at its 2004 Franchise Awareness workshops, with many attendees going on to start franchised businesses.

Venture Marketing Group, organiser of the British Franchise Exhibition, Glasgow, redefined its marketing strategy for its 2004 Glasgow exhibition in response to the 'potential Scotland has to offer' and received many positive comments from exhibitors. Safeclean/Furniture Pro, which exhibited at the event, said: 'The quality of prospective franchisees we met at the exhibition was excellent, people seemed genuinely interested and we were pleasantly surprised at the interest shown in Scotland.'

Venture Marketing Group anticipates building on this success at its 2005 event and predicts over 60 companies will exhibit. 'Franchising is growing rapidly worldwide as a proven way to develop successful new businesses because it offers ready-made solutions to help those wanting to set up a new venture,' comments Venture Marketing Group. 'It is a major industry, with franchise operations in the UK now turning over almost £10 billion a year, around £600,000 million in Scotland.'

BFA Deputy Chairman Nigel Toplis and Managing Director of Recognition Express said the franchise industry 'is very buoyant about the opportunities for franchising in Scotland and sees the Scottish franchise market growing in the short to medium term. A great deal of work has been put into promoting and marketing franchising in Scotland - both by existing franchisors and by the British Franchise Association through its Franchise Group for Scotland (FGFS).

'The creation of Scottish Franchise Week in 2004 was hugely successful as was the establishment of the FGFS and these initiatives and others will continue for 2005 and beyond.'

BFA Chairman and Cash Generator Managing Director Brian Lewis summed up the role of the group as: 'to introduce good ethical franchising to as wide an audience in Scotland as possible.'

Marilyn Keen, Co-founder of multi-award winning Swisher, states: 'The Scottish franchise market is presently extremely active. People in Scotland are franchise aware, and the calibre of our Scottish franchisees is very high.' With seven franchisees already established as part of its 64 territory network, Swisher is aiming to continue to develop franchise operations in Scotland in a professional and ethical manner to take advantage of this viable market.

Chemical distribution franchise Chemex has also identified a viable franchise market in Scotland and accredits this to the strong tourism industry. Chemex's solution to expansion in Scotland is to put in place a Business Development Manager to help support franchisees in Scotland. 'Scottish people like to buy from Scottish people,' explains Richard Sarjent, Franchisee Recruitment Manager. 'With a 'man on the ground' with local knowledge we believe we're in an even better position to support our growing franchise network in Scotland.'

Roy Seaman, Managing Director of Franchise Development Services (FDS) and publisher of The Scottish Franchise Magazine, suggests that Scotland is a 'sleeping giant' as far as franchising is concerned. 'There are several hundred very successful companies throughout Scotland and many are using traditional methods to expand their businesses, for example by appointing representatives to promote and sell their products and services. These can now be replaced with much more motivated sales and distribution franchisees. This is where the work of the FGFS is so important in educating and motivating the owners of successful Scottish businesses to give serious consideration to the benefits that can be brought to their head office through a well thought out national franchise development programme.'

Why Franchise?

Franchising is an excellent mechanism for business growth. If you have a successful business with national potential but are unsure of how to expand it beyond your local or regional customer base, then franchising is the most logical option.

Take The Ceramic Experience for instance. Just five years ago Anna St. Clair borrowed money to realise her dreams of turning a local disused building into a pottery studio. The studio was so successful that she franchised the business, now has paint your own ceramic studios throughout Scotland and England and is receiving strong interest from Europe and Dubai.

Similarly, Edinburgh-based Smart Cartridge has grown steadily throughout the UK, has sold the master license rights for both Northern and Southern Ireland and is also receiving enquiries from Europe.

Whether you own a Scottish brand and are looking to expand regionally, nationally or internationally, or own a concept you would like to grow in Scotland, there is plenty of advice and guidance available from BFA-Affiliated franchise consultants such as FDS.

FDS Northern consultant Tony Urwin advises: 'A franchise that has a professional package and clear-cut systems will be infinitely more attractive than one that appears to be designed merely to put money in the franchisor's pocket. An ethical franchise should put money in the pockets of both parties.

'By investing in a franchise consultant, franchisors can ensure the creation of a mutually beneficial operation that rewards everyone committed to its common goals. What's more, contented franchisees make excellent advertisements not only to other potential franchisees, but also to customers or clients who use the services of the franchise.

'The positive energy generated by contented franchisees could well create a service-orientated culture that could help you to increase your market share beyond your expectations.'

Events such as the British Franchise Exhibition in Glasgow and seminars run by Scottish Enterprise and Business Gateway ensure Scotland has a good number of well-informed potential franchisees. This, combined with the traditional Scottish work ethic, can only be good news for businesses looking to expand in Scotland and an opportunity not to be overlooked. Further details call Tony Urwin on: 0161 926 9882