The British Franchise Association: New Year, New Logo

The new look British Franchise Association (bfa) logo has been launched for 2006. Client Services Manager Pip Wilkins reports

So what is the bfa and what do we do? The association was set up in 1977 as a voluntary self-regulating body for the franchise sector. Its aim is to promote good franchising practice in the UK and help the industry develop credibility, influence and favourable circumstance for growth.

The bfa accredits franchise companies for membership on the basis of a strict standards structure. These standards cover the company's financial position, its day-to-day business activity, the disclosures made to prospective franchisees and the terms of the franchise agreement. Companies are re-accredited for bfa membership on a regular basis.

Alongside the bfa's reputation for high franchising standards, which in turn works to enhance the image of its members and their businesses, the bfa offers many services and benefits to support members and provide all levels of help for prospective franchisees and franchisors.

Why have we changed our corporate ID? During the course of 2005 the bfa has re-evaluated what it stands for and what it means to its membership, the wider franchising community, the general public and other audiences such as the media, government and business community.

The bfa's Board tackled the fundamental strategic question: should our logo contain our name in full and thus explain itself to all who see it, or should it be designed to maximise its use by our Members on their own promotional material - which would require a much snappier but in consequence less self-explanatory image.

The bfa's Board of franchisors had no doubt that the emphasis should be on encouraging our members to use their bfa logo whenever and wherever they can. Our Members support some 15,000 franchisees and that's a lot of opportunities to get the franchising message across.

Commenting on the new logo and what it represents, Brian Smart, bfa Director General says: 'Our members are proud of the standards they have achieved as responsible franchisors and our Affiliated Professional Advisors are proud of the expertise they have developed in the franchise sector. We want their standards to be recognised and our new logo aims to help them get that recognition.'

The categories and logos of bfa membership

The bfa's most valuable corporate asset, the bfa brand, will be closely protected and policed by the association. Here are the logos for each category of membership with a brief overview of the category criteria:

Full Member
Full bfa members are established franchise businesses that are prepared to have their reputation examined by the bfa against the full range of standards developed by the professional franchise community. They have developed their business with sufficient franchisees trading at levels that make for a stable, sustainable and profitable network.

Associate members have proven their ability to launch and successfully support at least one franchise outlet over a significant period of time and are now building their network. These members have committed to investing in the development of the business and the franchise network, in accordance with bfa standards.

These companies are at the beginning of their development in franchising. There is a real business in evidence and a sound franchise agreement, and the franchisor has committed to developing the business in accordance with bfa standards.

These are our professional advisors affiliated to the bfa because they provide specialist legal, accountancy, banking and other services to the franchise industry. They are experts, not only in their own fields but also in the application of their expertise to franchising.

How to become a bfa member and why you should

For franchisors, bfa membership is a benchmark of quality, providing public recognition as well as evidence that the company is truly established and offers a fair and ethical franchise opportunity. Significant too, that this quality standard not only adds value to the franchisor's brand but to the value of each and every franchisee within a bfa accredited franchise network.

Good prospective franchisees are the most careful in their selection of a franchisor. The best franchisees make it their business to get the bfa guide, to search the bfa website where they will find nothing but bfa accredited businesses, to visit bfa sponsored exhibitions and to attend bfa seminars. If franchisors want to attract the best franchisee candidates then bfa membership is a must.

To join the bfa franchisors must show that their business format franchise brands meet the following four general criteria:

  • Viable: All members of the bfa will have proved in the marketplace that their product or service is saleable and saleable at a profit that will support a franchise network.
  • Franchiseable: All members of the bfa will have proven they have the means to transfer their know-how to a new operator at arm's length, ordinarily through at least one managed pilot franchise operation.
  • Ethical: The bfa has joined with its sister bodies in Europe to devise a new and expanded code of ethics, to which all members adhere. The code requires standards of conduct in advertising for franchisees and in recruiting and selecting them, and sets minimum terms for franchise agreements as well as setting minimum standards for disclosure which the bfa implements in the following way.
  • Disclosed: All bfa members agree that they will, in advance of any lasting contractual agreement, disclose without ambiguity to prospective franchisees the information about their business that is material to the franchise agreement. Members submit their offer documents to the association as part of the accreditation procedure.

Achievements of 2005 and looking to the year ahead

The promotion of good franchising is as important in the Association's work as the identification of what good franchising is. Commenting on the association's successes in 2005, outgoing bfa Chairman Brian Lewis said: 'The key to the success of the bfa is its membership. Over the last two years we have increased the number of franchised brands which have won bfa recognition from 223 to 312. There has been no real increase in our subscription levels above inflation but we have seen our subscription income rise by merely one third over the last two years.

'With the even greater increase we have secured in the income we earn from the delivery of training and other services, the association's income has this year topped £1 million for the first time in our history.'

The Year 2005 was the bfa's best year ever, but we also have plans to make sure that we do better again. The association set down some plans for 2006 which include a new structure to strengthen the organisation's staff. A new business services department will provide all services to subscribers including accreditation and member services (Regional Forums, Members Newsletter, Annual Conference, etc). A new marketing department will deal with all outward facing marketing including seminars for prospective franchisees and work with the media.

The real prospect for the bfa in 2006 comes from the opportunity its new staff resources have to make a real difference to the recognition of franchising by the world at large. The new logo is designed to help secure that recognition and it is just the first initiative of many that the franchise community will see us roll out during the New Year.