Women in franchising | Part 4

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

Cathryn Hayes,

Head of Franchising, HSBC
We have seen increasing numbers of highly successful female franchise owners as finalists and winners in the bfa HSBC Franchisee of the Year awards. Last year’s overall winner was Janis Anderson, MD of Caremark Aylesbury and Wycombe, home care providers, with a special judges award going to business coach Shweta Jhajharia of ActionCOACH London.

In the franchisor awards, Lee Dancy picked up the HSBC Award for Franchisee Support for Barking Mad, the franchise she founded which matches host families with treasured family pet dogs when their owners go on holiday.

So if these stories of successful women in franchising inspire you, could you consider becoming a franchise owner yourself? Franchising offers a structure and brand to work within, with support and training at the outset and on an on-going basis. Many women like the support and help that franchising can offer, enabling them to concentrate on making their business a success.

So, what do you need to consider when looking at franchising? The most important thing is to make sure that you do your research and ask the right questions. Once you have chosen the one for you, start looking at the financial aspects, as you will need to ensure that you can afford to buy the franchise you are interested in, and set up your new business.

There are a wide variety of franchises available, so whether you want to work with children or animals, the care sector, fast food – on your own or running a larger business with staff – franchising has something for everyone.

HSBC's guide, Starting a Franchise Guide, includes a comprehensive list of suggested questions to ask franchisors and existing franchise owners and you can download this on the web site.

EWIF : Encouraging Women in Franchising

EWIF was formed in 2009 by Clive Sawyer, owner of franchise consultancy Business Options.
Clive was of the opinion that not enough was being done to support women considering franchising in the UK at the time, a time when women were seriously under-represented in the industry and when most of the information available was being written by men, for men. When he added to this the research that men and women look for support and information in totally different ways and after consultation with a host of experienced franchising names, EWIF was born.

EWIF has three missions; to encourage women to buy a franchise organisation; to encourage women to consider franchising their existing businesses and to help franchisors address any gender imbalance they may have and recruit more women into their businesses. In 2012, Louise Harris, Franchise Director of Wilkins Chimney Sweep, and Louise Bruce, MD of franchise specialist PR company, Big Red Box PR, took over as co-chairs of EWIF, regionalising it and updating the website and social media offerings. EWIF now has approximately 60 franchisor, franchise owners and service provider members and, aside from the annual meeting (26 Sept 2014, Warwickshire) and the EWIF Awards, runs quarterly meetings in four regional centres across the UK, London, South, East and North organised by dedicated EWIF members.

It holds its London meeting in The Houses of Parliament and was recently invited to HM Treasury by Nicky Morgan MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Women, to a meeting to discuss what more the Government can do to encourage women to become entrepreneurs.

Louise Harris said:"We are absolutely delighted by the growth and extended reach of EWIF, but with the most recent bfa survey revealing that the number of women entering franchising is actually falling, we are far from resting on our laurels. We believe the best advertisement for franchising is our members, hard-working business-women and men running ethical, sustainable businesses. One look at the winners in our 2014 NatWest EWIF Awards shows the outstanding talent and professionalism of women in our industry today and EWIF will continue to shout about franchising and the incredible business opportunities it can offer to women, in the months and years to come."

Louise Harris,

Franchise Director of Wilkins Chimney Sweep
Women, like men, have a particular way of working and processing information and encouraging women into franchising should be tackled no differently to advertising or marketing a product to a female audience.

Although a subject too big to tackle here, the psychology of appealing to a woman shouldn’t be ignored and our industry does so at its peril if it chooses to ignore the subject. Does your franchise differentiate between the two sexes? Do you deliver one message hoping to attract two audiences?

Having recently attended a group of mixed and female-only networking events, I was struck by how collaborative women are and while they are just as intelligent as their male counterparts, I frequently heard about their need to ‘toughen up’ and ‘be bolder’, yet these women were already successful in their own rights.

Is this why franchising works for so many women? Is it because, provided with a model to follow they can be successful without the fear of failure and with a strong guiding hand?

It is interesting to note that a Government study of female entrepreneurship identified that while fewer women actually applied for funding for a business, 70 per cent of those women who did apply were successful, compared to 56 per cent of their male counterparts.

The report states that the female applications were stronger, better informed and more confident, which blows the confidence theory, but makes us ask, are women confident enough but simply ‘risk averse’?

It seems that to attract women the emphasis needs to imply minimal risk, so a proven business model, with evidential proof of trading success must surely be one route to market, as is telling your target audience in a manner that women find appealing. Over to the marketeers...

Missed Part 1? Read it here >>