Women are making waves in traditionally male dominated franchise sectors, Lisa Law, national franchise manager at Snap-on Tools, says
Do what you know’ is a phrase often thrown around when considering franchise opportunities, so surely it’s a given that anyone looking into buying a business of their own would opt for an industry they have experience of?
But what if experience of a trade wasn’t as important as good people skills, impeccable time management and a will to succeed?
There is still a common misconception that men are more suited for van, automotive and business services franchises, while women opt for children’s services, cleaning and healthcare.
For many franchisors, passion tops experience, so women with dedication are just as likely to succeed as their male counterparts - no matter the sector.
Savvy franchisors have long since recognised that women are ambitious, hardworking franchise owners with a lot to offer a network. When it comes to appealing to - and developing - female franchisees, understanding what drives them and helping them to utilise their strengths is key. Women can be, and are, every bit as successful as men. Even in sectors that are traditionally male dominated.
Why women are making inroads
Times have well and truly changed and the traditional male ‘breadwinner’ role is long gone. Women can, and do, have it all - whether that’s a career, a family and/or business ownership.
Female prospective franchisees are looking for an opportunity that allows them to fulfil their professional and financial ambitions just as much as their personal ones. And that means carving out new paths in industries and sectors they may not have considered in the past.
Snap-on is a prime example. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a spike in women making enquiries about our franchise opportunities.
It seems that more women now understand that operating a successful business isn’t all about knowledge of the product or service - although that is important - but much more about skills and attributes they naturally possess for things like customer service, relationship building, team leadership, multitasking and organisation. All of which are far harder to teach than product specifications, systems and processes.
Those franchisors who place more emphasis on their training programmes and support structures, regardless of sector, will have no doubt discovered it’s an aspect that women find particularly appealing. Now that women know they can be taught all the skills they need and will be supported throughout the life of their business, everything is an option.
Take the automotive industry again. It’s estimated that still only 10 per cent of the automotive workforce in the UK is female which, despite being an increase of 125 per cent since 2011, means the majority of the women who have been making enquiries to Snap-on have little to no experience of the tool trade.
That causes no issues, as we teach our franchisees everything there is to know about our products and services. All we ask for is someone who has great people skills, with the ability to build relationships with customers. Some of our most successful franchise owners had never stepped foot in a garage before joining us - that goes for our male franchisees too.
How can franchisors attract more women into their industry?
Women want to earn well, be successful and often want the flexibility to work around their family, now or in the future.
The franchise industry as a whole is getting better at promoting the achievements of women and talking about the particular skill set they bring to any business. But brands looking to address the male to female balance in their networks or attract more women business owners need to continue with more of the same.
Attracting women to a traditionally male dominated industry is about communicating the support and training offered, from the very beginning. It’s about recognising the strengths women have - empathy, assertiveness, adaptability and good time management skills - and explaining how these qualities will complement the existing business model.
Men will often feel comfortable approaching a franchisor with 50-60 per cent of the required skills, confident that they can learn the rest later.
But from my experience in franchise recruitment, I’ve found that women tend to think if they don’t have 100 per cent of the required skills, they can’t do it. Women will question their own ability from the outset, often removing themselves from the process, before it has even begun.
It’s often a confidence thing and that’s why franchising is so great for helping to support, encourage and empower women to realise they can do it and do it exceptionally well.
Breaking down barriers
Women don’t excel in male dominated sectors because they’re women. They would excel in any sector; the difference is they are now empowered to break down previous barriers.
Quite simply, women make great franchisees. They tend to be process driven, are often used to juggling many different tasks at a time, can lead with both heart and mind and collaborate with others well.
These are sweeping generalisations and, of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but women tend to be more resilient than men and can assert themselves more diplomatically too - especially in matters of business.
Women are hard workers, with a desire to succeed that shouldn’t be underestimated. In my experience, women are just as competitive in business as their male counterparts.
Because they are usually great communicators, they are actively sought out as assets to any customer facing franchise. Brands that promote and encourage success, at all times, will testify that the women in their network will strive to achieve that success.
A franchisee should be hard-working, with a positive attitude and the motivation to succeed. The way I see it, women fit the bill just as much as men do. I encourage women to challenge the status quo by looking into those ‘male dominated’ franchise opportunities - you might know more than you think.