Franchising feels the feminine touch

Women think on their feet, are adaptable and know how to improvise - the perfect combination of skills necessary to run a successful franchise business.

A NatWest/bfa survey carried out 10 years ago found that just one in five new franchise owners were female. By 2010 that figure had almost doubled to 39 per cent. So for every new franchise that is launched, there is a good chance it will have a determined woman at the helm. It’s certainly true that more and more women and are setting themselves up in business by faithfully following the turnkey guidance, only franchising offers and emulating the success such guidance brought before. After years of standing by their fellow male franchise owners, women are increasingly finding liberation of their own.

For franchised businesses, this injection of femininity is reaping benefits all-round. With their penchant for networking, communication skills and talent for organising and prioritising, the female of the species has a great deal to offer the franchising community – and she certainly has been in recent years. Take Dublcheck’s Carol Stewart-Gill. She set up her commercial cleaning franchise 20 years ago and today there are more than 100 franchise owners within the network. Back in the early 1990s, Carol shrewdly predicted offices, showrooms and gyms would demand more and more cleaning services. She could hardly have been more accurate, and now she operates in a sector worth more than £3 billion. By following her lead – and the turnkey guidance contained within the Dublcheck franchise Owner Manual – some of her well-established, as well as relatively new recruits, boast six figure annual turnovers.

Then there is our cover story, Fiona Egan and her new fat-busting exercise pods. A former Accountant, Fiona has ploughed her life savings into her revolutionary invention and has already established four studios in Ireland under the sásta brand.

Kare Plus franchise co-owners Carolyn Jarvis and Charlotte Evans run a successful franchise business providing healthcare services within the Windsor area. The pair are not strangers to working as a team and they secured funding for an earlier foray into business from Deborah Meaden of BBC One’s Dragons’ Den.

Their respective previous callings as a social worker and a nurse led them to refocus their ambitions on building a healthy business in that sector. “We wanted to go back to our roots really,” Carolyn explains. “Charlotte and I had thoroughly enjoyed working together in our previous venture, but we decided that simply making money wasn’t enough – we wanted to be successful and profitable obviously, but also we wanted to provide a high quality service in an area where we had considerable combined experience and knowledge – and where we knew we could make a difference to people’s lives.”

They chose Kare Plus partly because its model provides medical and non-medical care services, which, given their backgrounds, was a key attraction. “Home care is more of a slow burn, it’s a highly complex marketplace, so although the rewards are there in the long run, the nursing side of the franchise meant that we could build income quickly while we developed our services on the domiciliary front,” says Carolyn. “On top of that, we liked the drive and dynamism of the management team – we felt they were really forward-thinking with a great vision, and we wanted to be part of that.” Carolyn and Charlotte launched their Kare Plus franchise in January this year and, as expected, the recruitment and provision of nurses has proved a quick win – already they have around 40 nurses on their books and regular clients.

“Our health and care sector experience means we understand the pressures our staff face in the workplace and can empathise with them,” Carolyn says. “This has helped us attract and retain high quality staff, build strong relationships with them and with our customers. Having said that, we had no previous experience of recruitment, so being part of Kare Plus was a major benefit for us. We had a lot to learn about the necessary compliance requirements, for example, and head office has really helped us.” Now that Charlotte and Carolyn have successfully achieved Care Quality Commission (CQC) accreditation, they are poised to extend their business into the domiciliary care marketplace as well. Carolyn explains: “We believe people are better cared for in their own homes – the elderly particularly benefit from and deserve the dignity of assisted independence. We are both passionate about offering excellent care and are only too aware of some of the horrendous experiences people suffer; we are determined to deliver the best possible service and our Kare Plus franchise will certainly enable us to achieve that.”

Anne Wainwright has been a McDonald’s franchisee for five years. Over that short time she’s gone from opening her first restaurant in West Yorkshire to running another two and has set her sights on even more. So what attracted her to a McDonald’s franchise? “I guess it’s all down to my background,” remarks Anne. “For 20 years I was in charge of European sales teams at a major IT company. I understood the corporate world, enjoyed running teams, was used to managing cost controls and wanted my own business. I can honestly say that I looked around at all the franchisee opportunities and McDonald’s came out top. It was more than the restaurant’s worldwide reputation and brand; it was its different outlook that also set it apart for me.” “If you’re dedicated, like to manage and motivate people, I would encourage becoming a McDonald’s franchisee. It’s very rewarding. It’s certainly rewarded me.”

Not only are more and more women becoming franchise owners within established franchises, like McDonalds and Subway, but they are also creating new franchises all the time. Even just a cursory glance at the Encouraging Women into Franchising (EWIF) award shortlist reveals a host of new and exciting franchises covering a multitude of industry and business.
While some of the franchises shortlisted in the EWIF awards arose out of their respective owner’s feminine talent for nurturing and instinctive standards of cleanliness and hygiene, there are also some surprises.

Alongside fantastic women franchise owners and franchisors working in the childcare, beauty and healthcare sectors, Ginny Murphy has been recognised for a decidedly male orientated franchise. Ginny is the face and founder of The Wheel Specialists – an alloy wheel refurbishment franchise which has been shortlisted in the Franchisor of the Year category.

The EWIF shortlist features a host of franchises that have yet to instill themselves into the common consciousness, like brands such as Subway, but they are certainly helping to put women on the franchising map and The Franchise Magazine looks forward to seeing how far and wide they can take their offering.