The British Franchise Association (bfa) has opened its doors to franchisees as voting members for the first time in its history.
The Franchisee Membership programme is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and the bfa says it will offer the UK "a new level of business collaboration amongst thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises".
In addition to the opportunity for election to the board of the bfa, franchisees joining the bfa can access new interactive training, advice services, cost-saving benefits and a variety of resources. Membership is deliberately limited to only franchisees of bfa member companies, which have already been accredited as ethical and credible franchise networks by the bfa. Its membership covers over one-third of the UK’s 40,000 franchisees.
The bfa says the franchising industry employs almost 600,000 people and contributed £13.4 billion to the UK economy in 2011. It adds: "It remains an extremely resilient market, with 91% of franchisees showing profitability last year and business success rates considerably higher than non-franchised alternatives."
Sir Bernard Ingham, President of the bfa, said: “This pioneering change, which has been in consultation and development for several years, has been something close to my heart since its conception. This has required existing members to open up the industry’s representation to franchisees, which entails a significant level of trust in both the bfa and franchisees. I have never been prouder of this industry than I am now, seeing such a positive, inclusive and progressive development come to fruition.”
Brian Smart, director general of the bfa, added: “By engaging franchisees directly we are able to further strengthen the ethics and standards of the industry, which has always been at the heart of our work. This has been echoed by the support and enthusiasm of our franchisor and professional advisor members, who have fully embraced this collaborative process, including the recent appointment of three franchisees to our board of directors.”