Pip Wilkins, CEO at the British Franchise Association (bfa), writes about the benefits of franchising for working mums.
It can be tough trying to find that balance of being a mum and having a career that suits your ambitions. With both of them being full-time jobs, it’s not easy. According to the Office of National Statistics, there are around 133,000 more women with young children in full-time employment in 2017 than there were in 1997.
Although the government has started to catch up to the needs of working parents by providing double the amount of free childcare from 15 hours to 30 for some parents of three and four year olds, it sometimes isn’t enough.
This is why franchising, especially as a franchisee, has become such a viable business model for women. It can provide the two components that every parent desires – a work/life balance and challenging and rewarding work.
Franchising has never been healthier, as shown by the latest bfa NatWest survey, proving that even in the toughest of times (such as the impending uncertainty over Brexit), it can not only survive, but thrive!
Starting any business can be terrifying, though with franchising you won’t be alone. With any good franchise you’ll receive training and support from both the franchisor and head office, not to mention the wider network of franchisees who were also once in the same boat as you.
This is one of the main attractions of franchising – mistakes have already been made in the past, and you will join a model that has been rigorously tried and tested.
Members of the bfa have to go through a tough accreditation system to ensure that their business model is tried and tested and they adhere to strict criteria in order to be a member. While taking on a franchise which is a member of the bfa doesn’t guarantee success, it does mean you have peace of mind that the company works ethically and in your interests.
Just because a company is not a bfa member, this does not mean they are unethical, but those with bfa membership are guaranteed to have gone through a strict process to check out their model.
In a lot of cases, people go into franchising seeking a business opportunity that will work well with their family commitments. This is especially true for women who realise that the career they had is simply incompatible with being a mum and that they cannot go back to their usual routine.
One woman who went through this is Tamsin Brewis [pictured], who is now a franchisee business owner of Water Babies in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. She came to realise that after having kids her previous career in marketing had put a strain on her ability to be a mum.
She says: “Before Water Babies, I worked for a field marketing company and I was forever commuting and away from home. I had two young children and I felt we were all missing out. Like so many other mums, I wanted to spend more time with them. I made what was, at the time, a pretty risky decision and changed career paths.”
Being a franchisee has now given her the freedom she needs to be a businesswoman, a mum and have time for herself. “Even after all these years, I’m still grateful for the flexibility being a franchisee allows me, so I might pop out for a gym class at lunchtime, before driving back to the office and carrying on with the day. I’ll never take that for granted.”
“I always said the reason I started the business was to spend more time with my family and I’ve definitely achieved that. Although I’m always here, there and everywhere, meeting with parents, managing my team or planning fundraising events, I now have the ability to plan around my family and our commitments.”
While men and women both make excellent franchisors and franchisees, each can bring something different and valuable to the table. Leah Dancy founded Barking Mad, a dog sitting franchise, and knows the value of female business women and what they can add to the table.
She says: “Women tend to be very supportive and inclusive, which is why women make excellent franchisors because they put people at the heart of what they do.”
She has made sure that Barking Mad helps their franchisees in every way they can, ensuring that not only are they achieving their best in the workplace, but are taking time out for themselves and their families.
“We handle bookings and enquiries when they are away,” she adds. “We have a system in place to help them take on part-time staff. We have also put in place a traffic light system which is colour coded so they can each spend enough time operationally, on marketing, on strategy, on the business and on themselves.”
Whether you are raising children or running a business, you will always need support. After all, you need people you can trust with both of your babies! Sue Hills and Sarah-Louise White are two women who know how valuable having a partner to help out is.
They created a successful Caremark franchise together in the Mid-Sussex and Crawley area and continue to build on their success. For Sue to achieve a work-life balance, she knew it was about having a loyal team.
“From the very beginning, I always planned to have a business that would continue to operate in my absence. To achieve this, I knew I needed a loyal and happy team to work alongside me.”
Having children and grandchildren meant she needed someone who would be able to make sure she could close down her business mind when off-duty, and having Sarah meant that she could do just that. Sarah says: “It’s important to me that Sue feels supported enough to take time away from the business when she needs to, and I know she has every confidence in me.”
The British Franchise Association (bfa) knows the importance of celebrating women in the workplace, and have held an annual Empowering Women in Business (EWIB) event that takes place at the Nottingham Belfry on November 15th.
The event aims to not only celebrate the successes of women in business and allow inspiring females to tell their stories but to empower women to overcome obstacles that they face in the workplace through working on themes throughout the day to inspire and to create debate. It’s the perfect place to network with like-minded women, build relationships and move forward on your own business journey.
For more information, follow the link here.
*The British Franchise Association (bfa) defines and enforces the ethical standards for business format franchising in the UK. Established in 1977, the Association is a self-regulatory body run by its members to champion the growth of the UK franchising sector. Promoting best practice through education and training, the bfa is a passionate advocate of excellence in the whole franchising community.