From employment to empowerment: here’s what women need to know to be successful in franchising
Sonja Brummer planned to put her degree to use teaching physical education. But, with state budget cuts hitting school districts, it became clear she needed an alternative. “I knew that the budget cuts would make it difficult for me to get a job as a teacher and that they were leading schools to cut out physical fitness,” said Brummer.
While in college, Brummer worked as a coach for Amazing Athletes, which had just started franchising. She decided to forgo the teaching credential program and make the leap into business ownership. Sonja Brummer is far from alone. The International Franchise Association is seeing more and more women entering franchising. And for good reason. Women often bring unique qualities and perspectives as business owners that bolster their success.
Rhea Lana’s, a children’s clothing consignment event business, has exclusively female franchise owners. “They understand the strength that comes from being part of a high-achieving team. Because of this dynamic, they work hard to find solutions that meet the needs of the team and organization, even if it means great sacrifice for themselves,” says Rhea Lana Riner, founder and CEO. Tony Lamb, CEO of Kona Ice, which has nearly 75 per cent of its franchises co-owned and operated by women, say: “From a business perspective, they are organized, responsive, creative, and excellent at marketing the business. Women want to leave their community better than they found it.”
“For women looking for work/life balance, franchising offers a number of innovative concepts”
Franchising also offers women benefits they may not find working in a more traditional job. Susan Maranhao, a Wild Birds Unlimited franchisee since 1990, previously worked for the city of Boston. “The major negative to working in the public sector is that more often than not, you are not in control of your career path,” said Maranhao. “I wanted to have a stable future and to not have to worry about whether or not I was going to have a job come the next election.”
Similarly, for women looking for work/life balance, franchising offers a number of innovative concepts that offer flexibility and the support necessary to be successful. Andrea Joyce, a franchisee with Dream Vacations, says: “I work from home, so if my son has a sporting event, doctor appointment, or another activity I want to attend, I can schedule my hours around it.”
Clearly, franchising can be a tremendous opportunity for women to forge a path to meeting their personal and financial goals. But franchising is still not without its challenges. Franchise Business Review has surveyed hundreds of thousands of franchisees. Based on our research, there are five key things to consider before investing in a franchise.
1. Ensure you’ll get the support you need
One of the major benefits of franchising is entering into a proven system. Find out exactly what the company’s training and support program entails, not just as you ramp up to opening but once your business is well established.
“What I most appreciate is that my franchisor and I work well together,” says Wild Birds Unlimited’s Maranhao. “I receive a high level of support from my Enterprise Coach. She helps me establish both revenue and operational goals each year and then I work on a plan to achieve them.”
2. Look for a progressive brand with a vision
Make sure the franchise brand you’re considering has a vision for the future: How does it evaluate its position in the marketplace? Does it constantly look for new and better ways to serve its customers and gain new ones? Think about your personal goals and how they align with the goals of the organization. FBR’s CEO Eric Stites points out: “When you look at the top-performing franchisees in any system, it’s not the brand’s vision, prior work experience or specialized skills that set them apart, but rather, a clear, personalized vision for their business and what they want to get out of it.”
Michelle Rowan is president and COO of Franchise Business Review, an independent research and consulting firm specializing in franchisee satisfaction and analysis.
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