Investing in a franchise is a smart career move for women, Helen Venables, managing director of House of Colour, says
Franchising is becoming an increasingly obvious choice for women in 2017 because many women need the flexibility that comes with having their own business.
Women want to be successful at work and want equal pay, but in addition face constant pressure to be a super mum, perfect house organiser, social genius and expert wife.
While women want and rightly expect equal pay and working conditions, they’re also overwhelmed by what is expected of them and what they expect of themselves - both at work and in society.
Room for improvement
The issues facing women in the workplace are changing and in some ways have improved, but there is still much room for improvement.
Companies can be reluctant to hire thirty-something women because of the implications of maternity leave, so in her twenties a woman can feel the need to be more driven due to the perceived urgency to climb the career ladder if she wants to take time out to have children.
It’s estimated women in Britain lose nine per cent of their wage after their first child and 16 per cent after their second child. Suddenly, having a franchise, where you have your own business, a good wage and ultimately flexibility, with the unwavering support from a formal and established business model in your franchisor, seems extremely attractive.
There’s more good news. Evidence suggests diversity throughout a company boosts turnover, while so many businesses, and in particular franchisors, are stepping up their efforts to recruit and keep women franchisees.
Recruitment is vital
Currently, women run 30 per cent of the 40,000 franchises in the UK. However, we need to drive home the message that recruiting women into the franchise sector is vital.
We also need to accept that women may not follow the same career paths as their male colleagues, particularly in the years when they might want to reduce their hours if they have young children, which has no bearing on their ability or commitment.
Good franchisors offer extensive training programmes to new franchisees, as well as continued support during the day-to-day operation of the business, which is of great value to franchisees who have enjoyed successful careers in unrelated industries.
Franchisors often welcome the wealth of experience someone who has already had a successful career brings to a different business. House of Colour has ex-teachers, marketing and sales executives, media consultants, IT professionals and journalists, as well as those with a fashion background, in its network.
Best of both worlds
Claire Bannister, a House of Colour stylist from Brentwood, Essex, says: “Prior to having my own franchise, I ran a procurement consultancy business, working in the financial services sector in London for 17 years.
“I loved the corporate life, but needed a better work-life balance. I chose a franchise because I wanted the autonomy of being self-employed, while having the support, brand assurance and training a franchisor provides.
“At 44, it was a daunting but very exciting prospect and two years on it’s something I would do again instantly.”
Women are generally good networkers, which is a key skill for franchisees in order to engage with their market and build their business. Many of the franchisors I know say they would like to see an increase in enquiries from women, more than any other group.
Franchising is an exciting, profitable opportunity to develop your own business, but do your research. Don’t just go for the cheapest franchise in the sector you’re interested in. Find out what exactly you will be getting for your investment.
Ultimately, choose a franchise you know you will enjoy. Trust your instincts and work out where your passions and talents lie.
Benefits of being a franchisee
Owning a franchise means you can utilise the experience of a working business plan and gain all the goodwill of a strong, recognisable brand. Put your own spin on things, but utilise the franchisor’s experience and expertise as well.
Franchisors usually offer extensive training to ensure complete confidence in running your business. Every business owner needs a certain level of understanding of accounting, marketing or financial documents. If you’re lacking experience or knowledge in a particular area of expertise, ensure the franchisor offers solid support in these areas.
Running your own franchise can offer flexibility, a healthy work/life balance and low start-up costs, as well as big rewards and the opportunity to grow personally.
A franchise can offer a new career for those who want a change.
6 top tips
- Make sure your franchise location is convenient for customers, has a steady stream of possible business nearby and the demographics of the area matches what you’re trying to sell.
- If you want an exclusive area, make sure there are clear boundaries from other franchisees in the region.
- Every so often, take a look at your competition to find out what they’re offering and provide something different and better.
- The sales and marketing of your product can make or break your franchise. Make sure you analyse the effects of each strategy and see what works well. Check and use what your franchisor additionally offers in terms of marketing support.
- Exceptional customer service is essential if you want to build a successful franchise. This might mean investing money in improving the customer experience and working overtime to ensure you’re satisfying customer demands. You will always notice the benefits.
- Set clear goals and make sure they’re realistic. Have long-term aims for your business, as well as short-term, more modest goals. Don’t go in with the expectation of being an overnight millionaire.