Women in franchising | Part 2

The Franchise Magazine talks and listens to some of the most inspirational and successful women in the franchise industry

Diane Maxwell,

Driver Hire Belfast
Diane joined the Driver Hire network seven years ago, initially working for the previous management team. She took over as manager in 2010 and loved the business so much that, when the franchise became available in 2012, she decided to buy it. Since then, she’s led her all female team with great success. During the financial year to April 2014, Driver Hire Belfast achieved turnover just short of £1.5 million and was the third best performing office in Driver Hire’s nationwide network.

What made you choose Driver Hire over a number of other franchise opportunities on the market? I was really lucky when it came to becoming a Driver Hire franchise owner as I’d already worked within the business for six years, having started as a Sales Consultant working for the previous franchise owner. I love what I do and when the opportunity to buy the business and become my own boss came along, I jumped at the chance. Every day is different and the thanks we get for providing great customer service is so rewarding.

What is the most enjoyable part of running your Driver Hire franchise? The absolute sense of achievement is for me the most enjoyable part of running my Driver Hire franchise. When you’re managing your own business, you’re continually developing your skills and confidence in the decisions you make. With the help of my team and staff at the Driver Hire head office, I’ve achieved a great deal since taking over the franchise.

In what way do you think the UK franchise industry could change, if at all, to encourage more women to take up franchises? I personally didn’t face any barriers when it came to buying my franchise and I have found that more women are now working in the once male-dominated transport and logistics industry. It does seem that some people are still surprised when they realise it’s a woman that runs and owns the business. Sometimes this can turn out to be a huge advantage when we exceed their expectations with the service we provide and the extensive industry knowledge we have.

Manroop Ahitan,

Basically I always wanted to go into beauty and I just thought I could do more for myself than I could working for someone else. I knew I wouldn’t be restricted working for myself. The power to make my own decisions was a big draw of going into business for me.

I think the most challenging thing for me has been getting the staffing mix right for all of the CoLaz salons and to keep the brand going. I have found a formula that works for me though now and I have a great team here.

I think the best thing about running my own business is the free time I get. I am almost in a position where CoLaz runs itself. Of course I am still there every day and put in the hours where they are needed but I can spend more time with the kids and can do what I want really. The freetime I have now is fantastic but it has taken time to build up to this.

The CoLaz opportunity is great for men and women. Of course our customers are about 80 per cent women and they like to be treated by women traditionally. However, because it’s a management position it’s a great opportunity for men too.

Lots of my students at Beaulaz, the associated beauty therapy college, want to run their own businesses in time and have the flexibility that it affords and this is great to see. For the future we are hoping that our franchising side will really take off and that we can open more branches across the country, on top of the four we have now. Also we are in talks with some people who want to bring CoLaz to India so global expansion is very much something we are looking at.

Jane Maish,

head of franchising at Owen White Solicitors
A good franchise system that offers training, support and participation in a franchise network should appeal to anyone considering starting up a business. But what is it that holds women back? It would seem that there is a lack of confidence and awareness about the benefits that franchising can offer.

Perhaps it is also true that the franchise industry could do more to promote a wider range of franchise opportunities as being relevant to women. Why is it that the majority of franchises advertised either at exhibitions or within magazines as being female-friendly are related to child entertainment/education or part-time franchise opportunities? Such opportunities may be of interest to women who may have childcare or other responsibilities that prevent them from a full-time job, but there is no reason why women cannot acquire what may be regarded as more stereotypical 'male' businesses.

Franchisors looking to recruit franchise owners may consider whether their marketing is directed at men rather than women. Photographs of 'man and van' in franchise brochures send an indirect message that the opportunity is not suitable for women.

As with so many problems, the answer lies in better communication to ensure that everyone is aware of the benefits franchising can offer.

Part 3 >>