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Your bfa questions

We ask Paul Stafford, PR Executive of the British Franchise Association to answer your most burning questions in relation to the importance of the bfa

Q: How important is the British Franchise Association (bfa)?

A: The bfa is the UK’s only voluntary, standards-based organisation that exists to support, promote and grow ethical franchising practice. It does this through its work with all stakeholders in the franchising industry, as well as with the Government, other public organisations and senior business leaders.Because it is a not-for-profit public body, it can be relied upon to provide completely objective advice and information to those considering investing in a franchise; one of the bfa’s main roles is to help potential franchisees recognise the good franchises from the not so good, before deciding whether or not to invest, as well as to help businesses involved in franchising to secure their own position amongst the ‘good’.

The bfa also accredits professional advisers to the industry (such as legal, financial or accountancy practices), who must demonstrate significant expertise and experience within franchising to become bfa members – which assures their clients that they are specialists and extremely knowledgeable in their field.

Outside the UK, it is recognised as one of the world’s leading national franchise associations, and takes a leading role in both the European Franchise Federation and the World Franchise Council (of which it was a co-founder).

Q: What is the benefit of signing up with a bfa member?

A: For a franchisor to be a member of the bfa they must pass a strict accreditation process, which looks at all aspects of the franchise operation to make sure it is proven, protected, ethical, sustainable and free of ambiguity and misleading statements.

bfa membership can give you confidence that a business has chosen to put itself forward against the Association’s codes of business practice and has passed this accreditation – not all do. It is not a guarantee of success and it should not replace your own research, but it should give you confidence that a brand’s franchise owner support and general operations are sound.

Q: Should I only work with bfa members?

A: It isn’t true to say that non-members do not necessarily follow good franchising practice, and should be avoided; but it is absolutely true to say that those franchises within the Association have satisfied the criteria for membership by demonstrating their viability as a business, as a franchise, and therefore as a potential vehicle for success for a prospective franchisee. Some franchise brands will never be able to pass these checks, while many others have tried and failed to do so.

A franchise brand may have a good reason for not joining the bfa – but if they are not members, any potential franchise owner should be absolutely sure to ask them why they are not, and be fully satisfied with the answer they receive.

Becoming a franchisee is a significant investment, emotionally and in terms of time as well as financially, and having an independent verification of a business’s practices is one way to give you the confidence that your investment is with a business that will allow you to achieve your goals, not damage them.