Women in Franchising
In recent decades, increasing numbers of women have found a business home in the franchise sector.
In 2008 the International Franchise Association (IFA) estimated that the total percentage of women operating franchises around the world was about 25%, excluding a further 17% of franchises being operated by both men and women as business partners. A similar study conducted in the United Kingdom years earlier, found that 10% of all companies established between 1975 and 2000 were franchises owned by women.
On closer inspection it becomes clear that this is partly the result of the greater number of opportunities becoming available for women to join the franchise sector. Franchise organisations such as the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA), as well as established women’s groups and associations, now offer workshops, seminars, mentoring programmes, as well as funding opportunities for women who want to own a franchise.
In today’s market, there is also a much greater variety of franchise concepts available for women to choose from. As a result, women no longer predominantly work in and own more feminine-type businesses such as those in the beauty, children and health-related industries. The current franchise market offers opportunities across all categories of business and you can find successful women operators in all of them.
Women’s skills, interests and personality traits all play a key role in the growth of the number of female franchisees and franchisors. Among the most prominent skills and characteristics that make women such sought-after prospects for the franchise business are:
- In general, women are great organisers, know how to prioritise well, and have superior attention to detail.
- Women can also think fast, know how to improvise, and can adapt quickly to changing circumstances.
- A dominant trait which is prevalent among women is strong networking and communication skills.
- As business owners, women tend to be more conservative when it comes to finances, and are more prepared to start small and grow their enterprises over time.
- Women’s often excellent people and networking skills, are ideal for the franchise business model, which relies heavily on communication and building relationships with franchisors, other franchisees, as well as clients. By developing longer-term relationships, a businesswoman may experience fewer ups and downs in her business.Generally, women also work well as members of a team, because they are aware of how their actions affect employees. They also understand the importance of not pursuing rapid business growth to the detriment of a pleasant working environment.
- Other characteristics at which women excel are being well organised, the ability to multi-task, setting priorities and planning ahead.
Benefits for women
Owning a franchise can offer women a certain measure of freedom, while providing the opportunity to grow, both personally and professionally.
The franchise business model will appeal to women who enjoy a combination of collaborating with others and working independently.
As part of a franchise system, a woman can tap into the group intellect inherent to a franchise concept and exchange information with other franchisees and the franchisor. In this way, she can benefit from the ‘power of the brand’ as well as a proven business model, to achieve success for her business, while remaining in control of her own destiny.
Owning a franchise also allows women more flexibility in their schedules, which may make it a good option for those with families.
A word of caution, however, while being a franchise owner may give you greater flexibility to balance being a mother with being boss, being an entrepreneur usually comes with a heavy and time-consuming workload that can spill over into evenings or weekends.
Nevertheless, here are some benefits to consider:
- Women who have temporarily taken a break in their careers to have children may feel left behind in terms of industry knowledge, particularly advancements in technology. Franchisors offer training, support and experience, to ensure that you have the skills required to set up and run the franchise successfully.
- Sometimes women returning to the workforce after a long absence may discover that their previous job category has become obsolete, or they may be re-employed in a more junior position. In these instances, franchising may provide you with a new career path.
- The greater flexibility which your schedule allows as a franchise owner may result in a better balanced life, especially if you have a family.
Here are a few categories of franchises that may particularly appeal to women, but there are many others to consider:
- Health and beauty franchises predominantly target female customers and offer women the chance to keep up to date with new technology and treatments.
- Children-orientated franchises can be very rewarding and includes a wide variety of options ranging from teaching and entertaining to fitness and health.
- Business consulting franchises are ideal for women with a high level of professional ambition and an interest in the business world.
- Cleaning franchising is a booming industry that is recession-proof.
- Health care franchises. The population in many western countries is ageing, but financial independence means that this is a growing industry.
- Property and estate agent franchises include traditional letting and estate agencies, or ancillary service like legal services, etc.
Women may find it easier to obtain financing for their franchises because they tend to take fewer risks when setting up a business. Because they often start out with lower levels of venture capital, it can be to their advantage when applying for loans from financial institutions.
Although all the factors mentioned could be to a woman’s advantage when choosing to enter the franchise arena, it is important to mention that franchising is more about finding the right fit than fitting a specific gender role.
Traditional gender roles do not determine whether you should pursue your passion and turn it into a business. Having the necessary finances available to fund the initial stages of a franchise, is the same basic requirement for everyone.
The same can be said for the hard work and commitment required for setting up and running a successful franchise in a competitive business environment. And, above all, maintaining that delicate balance between your professional and personal life is vital to ensure that you don’t end up resenting your endeavour.