Women and franchising – a successful combination

Whether you’re a mum looking for a part-time business to fit around your family or an ambitious businesswoman looking for a new challenge, the franchise sector has opportunities to suit everyone.

With the female unemployment rate reaching a staggering 1.09 million, according to the Office for National Statistics, now is the time for women to secure their futures and obtain their financial independence, both of which can be achieved through franchising.

With over 1,500 franchise opportunities in the UK, which range from baby groups to business consultancy and can be run as part-time or full-time businesses, there is a franchise out there to suit everyone’s skills, background and budget.


Investing in a franchise opens the door to a range of benefits including the ability to work flexible hours, job security, financial independence, control over the growth of the franchise and a route back to work after having a family.

Yet, only 26 per cent* of all UK franchise owners are female and while the number of new female franchise owner recruits has increased to 25 per cent*, not enough women are taking advantage of the opportunity investing in a franchise presents.

Two women who have embraced the benefits that franchising has to offer are Tracy Townend and Jo Stone (both pictured top), mothers and franchisors of baby swimming class franchise, Puddle Ducks.

“We met at antenatal classes in 2001 and over the next year became firm friends and spent a lot of time together enjoying swimming with our new babies,” recalls Tracy. “The idea for Puddle Ducks soon hatched and after much planning and research, classes began in 2002.


“After building Puddle Ducks for several years, we realised that we had a successful, fun and replicable business model,” continues Tracy. “We were teaching invaluable life-skills to infants while enjoying a fabulous work/life balance. We knew this magical combination would interest other people, so franchising was the natural answer.”

Over the last few years it has been recognised that more women are taking an interest and entering into the world of franchising, which is why more organisations have been created to specifically assist women seeking guidance and advice on franchising.

Clive Sawyer, Chairman of Encouraging Women Into Franchising (EWIF) says: “Starting your own business can be a daunting prospect. At EWIF, we inspire, educate and support women who are considering or who are already involved in franchising.

“Women make brilliant franchise owners as most of them have the ability to prioritise their workload, follow a proven and successful franchise model, and take a hands-on, personal approach to their business. Franchising also offers women the opportunity to find the best work/life balance for them and start their own business with confidence and support.”

While franchising can provide you with many benefits, joining a franchised network and becoming your own boss is a big decision, so be sure to identify your expectations and thoroughly research the franchise opportunities you are interested in before committing.


“Be clear about what makes you happy and create a wish-list including what you enjoy, ideal hours, location, investment and so on,” advises Tracy. “Then, franchise research is critical, find out how many franchise owners are in the network; are they happy and successful; what’s included and what return can be expected? Most franchisors have a prospectus and offer Discovery Days which are very useful.”

Written by Tiffany Brooking

*NatWest bfa Franchise Survey 2011