PAUL STAFFORD OF THE BRITISH FRANCHISE ASSOCIATION EXPLAINS WHAT MEMBERSHIP OF THE ORGANISATION MEANS FOR PROSPECTIVE FRANCHISEES
The British Franchise Association has almost 300 franchise brands in membership that have passed its strict accreditation. While membership of the bfadoes not provide a guarantee of commercial success, the confidence it can give prospective franchisees is invaluable. So what does it mean?
You’ll see companies promoting themselves as members of the bfa at three different levels - full member, associate member and provisionally listed. It’s important to understand what those distinctions mean. Primarily, the levels differentiate the length of time a company has been franchising and its network maturity as follows:
These are long established businesses with a proven trading and franchising record, often with a nationwide network of franchisees. They’ve demonstrated longevity, success and the extensive support infrastructure required to sustain their franchisees.
Crucially, the business has grown to a size where it is sustainable purely on the management service fees it receives from franchisees - it doesn’t need to sell any more territories to be profitable.
Associate members of the bfa have proven their ability to launch and support at least one franchisee for a minimum 12 months and are usually actively building their network. The franchisor will be investing in support and development.
There will be franchisees whose experience you can research, with associate members having growing networks in operation. The business will have been tested in the marketplace over a shorter period of time than a full member, but there will be evidence of its ability to franchise successfully and
These are companies at the beginning of their development in franchising, with at the very least a successful pilot operation in place for 12 months or longer. There is a proven business up and running where end products and services are being sold successfully to consumers.
The franchise model has been developed in conjunction with recognised experts and by joining the bfa the company has committed itself to develop the business in accordance with bfa standards and ethics.
The bfa encourages franchisors to upgrade to the next membership level as their network matures, reflecting their growth and experience in the sector.
GAINING BFA MEMBERSHIP
It’s also important to note the big similarity in the three levels - all bfa members have demonstrated their knowledge of and commitment to ethical franchising practices and procedures.
The bfa looks broadly for evidence of ethical franchising in four key areas when accrediting brands:
* The business needs to be proven to work - not just the idea on paper or in someone’s head - with evidence the product or service has a market and will sustain a profitable business.
* It needs to be transferable and teachable, which means it can be run in multiple locations by multiple independent operators using the same system, brand and quality.
* The franchise is structured and operated in accordance with the principles set out in the European code of ethics for franchising, which includes best practice guidance on advertising, recruiting and franchisor-franchisee relationships. The franchise agreement must also be fair to both parties and comply with UK law and European Community law.
* All information on the business that is material to the franchise proposition and contract is disclosed without ambiguity to prospective franchisees - and any financial projections and earnings forecasts shall be objective.
The franchising industry has grown significantly over the past 30 years and continues to do so. The bfa continues to distinguish only those brands with the highest standards, meaning you can rest assured you’re in the right place to explore the opportunities on offer. It also provides informative, objective advice - use it to find out what you need to know.