Pip Wilkins, chief executive of the British Franchise Association, explains what sets bfa members apart from the rest
If you’ve picked up this magazine, it’s likely you’re interested in exploring selfemployment by investing in a franchised business.
It can be daunting to decide which brand is worthy of your investment, both financially and in time. To help you prepare for making this decision, there are a number of questions you can and should ask while carrying out your due diligence.
Asking plenty of relevant questions, requesting evidence of financial projections and seeking legal advice on the franchise agreement will help you build a bigger picture of the franchisor’s company and how it works.
The British Franchise Association was established in 1977. The remit of the bfa is to separate out the bad franchises from the good. This is achieved by carrying out a rigorous accreditation process before any brand is able to become a bfa member.
As the non-profit, self regulated body for ethical franchising in the UK, we also provide impartial guidance to prospective franchisees who are thinking about taking the leap into business ownership through franchising.
bfa membership is voluntary. Any brand that’s within our membership has chosen to be accredited by the bfa in order to join the bfa community and display our logo.
Our accreditation and compliance team evaluate key factors that indicate whether a franchise is profitable, ethical and fair to its franchisees.
These include the franchise agreement, the support and training offered to the franchisee network, evidence of its financial projections, full and fair disclosure of relevant information to prospective franchisees, promotional materials and that it can prove financial sustainability in order to support its network.
Due to the level of detail covered, many brands will not pass their accreditation on the first try. However, their willingness to make changes to their operation to meet the bfa’s standards and their agreement to abide by the bfa’s ethics and rules is testament to their desire to be part of the good franchising community when they pass in the future.
A franchisor displaying the bfa kitemark for ethical franchising is a great start when looking at future investments. Therefore, bfa member brands are naturally more attractive to prospective franchisees, as they have been scrutinised by an unbiased third party organisation.
Members of the bfa are also able to access the range of best practice sharing events and resources for ethical franchising that we provide.
Just because a brand is not a bfa member does not necessarily mean it’s a ‘bad’ franchisor.
Whether or not a brand you’re considering joining is a member of the bfa, we always encourage prospective franchisees to carry out the same thorough research before handing over any money or signing the legally binding franchise agreement.
However, if a non-member franchisor has answered your questions satisfactorily, you may wish to ask why they have not joined the bfa and undergone the accreditation process it entails.