Women take control with franchising

Sam Petter, founder of children’s yoga inspired activity franchise, Tatty Bumpkin, reveals why franchising may be the way for women to secure their careers in 2012.

This year is set to be a tough economic climate, and while more UK men than women lost their jobs during the recession, the Government warns there could be a potential crisis in female unemployment. According to the Office of National Statistics, unemployment is up 71,000, or 0.5 per cent, and 19,000 fewer females are employed now than this time last year. The number of ‘workless women’ in the UK – those economically inactive who say they want a job plus those unemployed and actively seeking work – has reached 2.36 million.

The workplace has changed, whereas previously a job was seen as the secure option, now there is a more flexible approach to work. One in five small businesses fail within their first operating year, so franchising, using tried and tested systems and products, is generally seen as the more secure option than setting up a business from scratch.

With women now making up 45 per cent of the workforce, and increasingly looking for part-time options, setting up a business to work for yourself is a growing trend, as the following research from the NatWest/bfa Survey 2011 shows.

Franchise businesses are more likely to thrive in a recession than a non-franchise business. UK franchise turnover in 2010-2011 was £12.4 billion. Today there are approximately 525,000 jobs and more than 897 franchises in the UK with over 36,900 franchised units.

Alongside this upward trend in franchising, female franchise owners are also on the increase, which is recognised by franchisors – the number specifically recruiting women has tripled. The number of successful women solely running their own franchise business is now 11 per cent with 45 per cent of total franchise owners running jointly with a partner.

It is believed that women possess many of the skills needed to be successful franchise owners, these include being good listeners and building lasting relationships more easily, preferring to work in a fulfilling and pleasant work culture, the ability to prioritise and being detail-oriented and being organised and having the ability to handle numerous tasks.

Women are increasingly looking to pick up work following taking a family break and looking for a more flexible work opportunity.

Tatty Bumpkin – runners up in Encouraging Women Into Franchising (EWIF) Franchisor of the Year awards – is an example of a child-friendly franchise supporting women – although not exclusively – back into the workplace via its ethical franchise.

Initially, Tatty Bumpkin won a Social Enterprise Award from UnLtd for helping mums back to the workplace. As our company and concept has spread, we have grown into a British Franchise Association (bfa) accredited franchise opportunity with 21 active franchise owners, and an overseas presence in Australia, America and China.

We have a diverse selection of franchise owners, from an ex-professional ice dancer, Professor in marine biology and a QVC shopping channel presenter! All these women have in common a desire to achieve a better work/life balance and build on successes in their previous professional careers. For yoga enthusiast Clare Gough, launching her York-based Tatty Bumpkin franchise was the perfect way to achieve her career goals.

“Unlike many other Tatty Bumpkin franchise owners, I don’t have a family to work around and am, therefore, working at making this a business for myself on a full-time basis. I have worked extremely hard for others over the years and finally, after being made redundant, it is time to begin reaping the rewards of working hard for myself.

“Once properly established, I hope to be in a position to teach less myself and to then really concentrate on the business expansion. My ‘early foundation laying’ is now beginning to pay off as I have recently turned a major corner and managed to increase my sessions from four a week to 14, working with schools, nurseries and children’s centres. I know that I have not yet scratched the surface and there is an abundance of potential still waiting for me.”