A successful franchise organisation will always have one eye on its franchisees’ individual business success, and the other on the growth of the network as a whole
This year has forced many people to re-evaluate their working situation, and re-prioritise what is important for them. After such a turbulent year, now is the time to look after our mental health, and for many, this may mean a step away from employment in its traditional sense. This is probably especially true for women.
After furlough, redundancy, or perhaps months of trying to juggle a nine-to-five job with childcare, many women will be taking stock of their work-life and considering the jump into entrepreneurialism to become their own boss. As the report by UN Women late last year highlighted, it’s women who have seen their ‘unpaid’ workloads increase the most - meaning housework and childcare - and this may have shone a light on inflexible working arrangements. The pull of being more in control of your own work-life balance and career future is a strong motivator.
Of course, going your own way can also be a very scary leap of faith to take, which is where franchising can offer a safer path. The proven business model and instructional framework, training and ongoing support offered by an established franchise can make the leap from employment to running your own business much easier to make. If you are a risk-averse person, then it’s far more likely that you’ll stray from tried and tested career paths with these safety ropes to hand.
But what happens when, some years into your new franchise set-up, you perhaps start to feel as though you’ve learned all that you can learn, reached a plateau with the business and are starting to get itchy feet? Do you sell up? Embark on a new franchise journey? Create your own business without the franchise safety net? Return to employment?
This is where a franchisor that works collaboratively with its franchise network to spot and foster individual potential in order to grow the business as a whole is key to both franchisee and network success.
As franchisees grow into experienced business owners and the day to day operations become old hand, their ability to spot areas for innovation and growth increases. Harnessed correctly by the franchisor in a mutually beneficial way, this experience and bigger picture thinking can be applied across the network to everyone’s benefit: Franchisees find new personal growth opportunities and revenue diversification, while franchisors can develop the network offering and have the power to stop experienced business owners from walking away to pursue new goals elsewhere.
Busylizzy has a number of examples of franchisees who have mastered their local business potential and gone on to work with the central management team - either alongside their local club role or as the next step on their personal career path.
Michelle Lane joined us as Busylizzy Reigate and Horley club owner from her previous role as a Water Babies franchisee. Given her experience of running a successful franchise elsewhere, it was quickly evident that she had a lot to offer in terms of her mentoring and leadership skills, and we were delighted to appoint her as managing director of the Busylizzy network last year.
“I have relished the opportunity to use my transferable skills and experience to help other club owners in my new role as MD,” Michelle states. “It has been extremely rewarding to be able to tailor the role to my working style and ethos while continuing my own professional development. It has been a great experience of being enabled to achieve success personally, professionally and for the wider team.”
For Rebecca Gray, the opportunity to step up amidst the onset of the COVID-19 crisis last March to take on the management of Busylizzy’s new online service and platform, Busylizzy Live, was a pivotal moment in her Busylizzy journey.
“After launching my club in 2016, I had probably started to reach the point where I had given and gained all that I could,” explains Rebecca. “And then the prospect of lockdown hit me really hard! I couldn’t see a way in which the club could possibly survive. But the massive advantage of being a part of a franchise is that there is a wealth of talent to draw from, and by pooling our resources we were able to put together a brilliant team to present a range of online classes.
“The evolution of Busylizzy as a franchise network has always involved committees of club owners, making us part of the decision making process, connecting us and helping us feel invested in the direction of the business as a whole. The creation of Busylizzy Live was a great example of this and came at a perfect time for me. By being given the opportunity to take on the management of the new service, I had a brand new set of challenges that allowed me to keep growing personally, find a new source of income, as well as guaranteeing continued revenue for my franchise territory!”
Jen Hibberd also joined the network as Horsham club owner at a similar time to Rebecca in 2016 from a former career in corporate PR. After four years of learning the ropes of running a business and growing her club, she has gone back to her PR roots and taken on the role of PR manager for the network, whilst continuing the day to day club management.
“Busylizzy was a great fit for me when I first started managing my club, marrying my personal passion for fitness with my new desire to work flexibly around my young family, and an underlying interest in running my own business. I am naturally a risk-averse person though so the protection of the Busylizzy umbrella was an important consideration for me,” says Jen Hibberd. “I always hoped to be able to harness the skills I’d developed in more than a decade at a London PR agency for the benefit of my own business, and have been really pleased to be able to do more than that by growing organically into the wider PR support role for the network to grow the brand. The role has given me a new focus and challenge just when I needed it.”
By nature of the franchise model, a successful franchise organisation will always have one eye on its franchisees’ individual business success, and the other on the growth of the network as a whole. With the right balance and ability to integrate individual talent into the wider organisation, these two elements can coexist very effectively. Michelle, Rebecca and Jen are all great case studies of how franchisee and franchisor can marry growth opportunities for the network with personal development possibilities.
Julie Clabby is the Busylizzy Family Club founder and Qualified Franchise Professional.