Reasons more women are becoming franchisees
The number of franchises in South Africa is growing by the year, and it’s likely as many as a third of them are now run by women. The figure’s vague and could be much more – as many more are run as male-female partnerships. In fact, FranNet has calculated this total and partial ownership factor as 41% in the US.
What is clear is that women ownership is increasing: according to a 2017 report from the International Franchise Association (IFA), the number of women-owned franchise businesses has increased by half globally since 2012 to make up 30.6% of the market, compared to 20.5% in 2012. The number of franchise networks targeted specifically at women is also on the increase.
In South Africa, women own an average of 25% of all franchised outlets. However, this figure is much higher in certain sectors such as the health and beauty sector, where women own 81.7% of all outlets and education, where women own 80.5% of the franchises.
Many women opt for franchise ownership for precisely the same reasons as their male counterparts, but there are some characteristics of franchising that especially appeal to aspiring female entrepreneurs.
Working mothers have a special challenge in balancing their careers and family responsibilities when doing a straight 9-to-5. Depending on the franchise, many offer a flexible model that is family friendly and allows owners to work only 10 to 20 hours a week on their business, handling strategic development, marketing, payroll, and such, while delegating the rest. We (www.whichfranchise.co.za) have often warned against absentee owners, so this delegation needs to be extremely carefully managed. One option may be to bring the family into the business or to structure profit sharing or incentives for managers.
A lack of good support can leave many aspiring female entrepreneurs on the sidelines. The single major appeal of franchise businesses is their unmatched and proven support systems. Franchise systems take great pride in offering help finding real estate, store layout, marketing, management training, human resources and purchasing.
Women entrepreneurs report difficulties in securing loans for their small business startups – and on average receive loans well below the average of male-owned businesses. Franchise systems often offer assistance to franchise candidates to help them secure business loans to open their franchise operation, or sometimes provide the loan themselves. They help candidates draft a business plan to secure a loan from a commercial bank, and often considerably simplify the loan application process.
Becoming a franchisee gives men and women the same opportunity to thrive
Women are also drawn to franchising by bad experiences in the general workforce. Women are underrepresented at almost every level of corporate South Africa, a ratio of inequality that worsens at virtually every rung from entry level to the C-Suite. For instance, women hold 20% of board seats at Fortune 500 companies, while 5% of S&P 500 companies have a female CEO, according to FranNet. This is unlikely to be much different in South Africa. Women wishing to be fairly valued are likely to find franchising appealing because there are no glass ceilings.
Women are widely acknowledged for their superior relations with customers – often thereby outperforming male owners. It is something they enjoy and direct customer interaction draws women to franchising.
Women also have three inherent attributes which make them successful franchisees:
- Better organisational skills
- Higher propensity to follow policy and directions