Support for Success
The presentation of not one but two 'Franchisor of the Year' Awards, plus a Judges' special commendation, made at this year's British Franchise Association awards ceremony is a clear indication of the continued development of franchising in the UK and the growing competition between brands to be awarded this title. Rachel Spaul reports
ROLLING up outside the Savoy Hotel in London, this year's host for the British Franchise Association (BFA) 'Franchisor of the Year' Awards Luncheon, you could already hear the buzz of anticipation as franchisors made their predictions on the 2005 winners.
Short listed for the HSBC Award for Enterprise were Antal International and Printing.com, while Blazes Fireplace & Heating Centres, Monkey Music and Energie Fitness Clubs were finalists for the Express Newspapers 'Brand Builder of the Year'. Finalists for the coveted 'Franchisor of the Year' Award were Rosemary Conley Diet & Fitness Clubs, Autosmart International, Ventrolla, McDonald's, Kall Kwik and Pirtek (UK).
The BFA 'Franchisor of the Year' Award is a much-anticipated event and preparation begins almost a year in advance. The award recognises that franchisors and franchisees working together in a mutually supportive environment brings success and adds value to a business. 'That is exactly what the BFA is trying to achieve through its code of ethics and accreditation procedures, which encourage a supportive environment,' states Sir Bernard Ingham, President of the BFA.
The organisation was founded in 1977 by the major UK franchising companies to 'act in the interests of the industry as a whole in assessing and accrediting franchising companies as those which meet its criteria for the structure of the business, the terms of the contract between franchisor and franchisee, the testing of the system and its success as a franchise.'
With 718* franchise systems operating in the UK from every industry sector, each business has its own variety of characteristics and its own pitfalls, which was evident at this year's awards. 'Against this changing background,' adds Sir Bernard, 'the BFA has developed standards to ensure that potential franchisees can continue to give credence to BFA accreditation.'
This year's award theme was 'Support for Success', with companies required to demonstrate how they are delivering strength to their franchisee network through an ongoing programme of help and advice - the basis of effective Business Format Franchising.
The afternoon began with a champagne reception giving franchisors the opportunity to meet old friends and make new acquaintances. A delicious three-course luncheon preceded the awards presentation.
Breaking from the norm and presenting two awards shows that there's not just one way to create successful franchising. Sir Bernard agrees: 'It shows real competition and I hope they (franchisors) continue to make it difficult for the judges. It demonstrates that successful franchising comes in all shapes and sizes.'
AND THE WINNERS ARE...
Johanna Roughley, BFA Communications Manager, reveals the 2005 winners
IN a departure from the usual plan for the BFA 'Franchisor of the Year' Awards, the judging panel this year awarded a special commendation - and crowned two winners!
Kall Kwik and Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs will share the title of 2005 'Franchisor of the Year', and Autosmart was singled out for a Special Judge's commendation. Printing.com won the HSBC Award for Enterprise and Monkey Music celebrated after scooping the Express Newspapers 'Brand Builder of the Year'.
The BFA Awards, sponsored by the Daily Express and HSBC Bank, showcase the UK's best-performing franchisors in a booming industry worth an annual £9.1 billion to the economy.
The judging panel comprised BFA President Sir Bernard Ingham, BFA Director General Brian Smart, HSBC Head of Franchising Cathryn Hayes, Horwath Franchising Managing Director Brian Duckett and Beachcroft Wansbroughs partner Pauline Cowie.
Director General Brian Smart said: 'The BFA 'Franchisor of the Year' Awards recognise the very best within our industry - those who constantly strive for excellence to achieve success both for themselves and their networks. The quality of all the finalists in this year's awards have been extremely impressive. The judges felt Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs really stood out in the way the business base for franchisees is continuously developed and supported, and Kall Kwik for the combination of breadth and detail they deliver in supporting franchisees.'
Cathryn Hayes said both Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs and Kall Kwik's achievements underlined the many benefits franchising had to offer for those starting out in business. 'Franchisees have the advantage of joining a business network, which is not only tried and tested, but which offers guidance and support, as well as having a well-established brand name behind it.'
Express Newspapers Advertising Manager Jon Notley added: 'Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs and Kall Kwik clearly demonstrate how a programme of support can drive a franchisee network forward.' This is the second time Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs and Kall Kwik have won this coveted title.
Autosmart received the specially-created Judge's commendation for its outstanding contribution to the franchising industry. Brian Smart commented: 'The judges felt Autosmart deserved this special award to recognise the quiet but sustained contribution that the Autosmart business has been making to the development of franchising over 25 years.'
When selecting the winner of the HSBC Award for Enterprise, the judges looked for a company that led and inspired others in its marketplace. Cathryn Hayes explained: 'Printing.com's fresh approach and use of the latest technology has helped it carve a niche in a highly competitive industry. Its innovation and unique structure has also given its franchisees a low cost opportunity to start up their own business, underlining the benefits franchising has to offer and making it a worthy winner of the HSBC Award for Enterprise.
'HSBC has been supporting the franchise industry for 20 years and, in our eyes, the successful business models of Printing.com and this year's other winners demonstrate the growing strength of the franchise market.'
Contenders for the Express Newspapers Brand Builder of the Year Award had to show the importance of branding in business. Jon Notley congratulated: 'Everyone at Monkey Music should be justly proud that their efforts to build a significant brand have reaped such high rewards - they are very worthy winners of this hotly-contested category.'
Brian Smart added: 'Monkey Music really stood out in the way they had made commercial brand building techniques work so well in a vocationally orientated business.'