Top tips for first time franchising from the bfa

Want to be your own boss? Franchising could be the answer for you. But how do you get started? 

Pip Wilkins, head of operations at the British Franchise Association, offers her expert advice and top tips, explaining why now really is a great time to get involved in franchising and invest in a franchise.

is it a good time to go into franchisingWhy is now a good time to go into franchising?

Franchising performed remarkably well during the economic downturn, growing both revenues and employment by 20% between 2008 and 2013. As the economy is predicted to continue its recent growth, the sector can be expected to continue its exponential growth. The diversity of business opportunities in franchising is now very high, so whatever your passion and skill set, there’s something for you.

What do you believe the main benefits of franchising to be?

The opportunity to be part of something bigger, running your own business but with training, support and expertise to call on whenever necessary, is a significant advantage. Being able to access the experience and back-up of head office and other franchisees in the network is invaluable, and means that being self-employed doesn’t have to mean being on your own. A reputable franchisor will be able to show evidence of their success, and have a training programme in place to help new franchisees to replicate it.

How do I choose the right franchise for me?

Start with introspection: why you’re looking to run your own business, your goals, what you are passionate about and enjoy, and your top skills. That should help focus your search and match you with suitable businesses. After you’ve got some ideas in mind, it’s research, research, research – you can never do too much. It’s critical to perform due diligence, look carefully at the business and what its franchisees do on a day-to-day basis, understand what the opportunity is, find out what you can on the history and standing of the brand and the people behind it.

Why does the bfa choose to work with The Franchise Exhibitions?

The bfa is first and foremost a standards-based organisation, representing ethical franchising. Therefore it associates itself with brands that can demonstrate a knowledge of and commitment to good franchising practice. By working closely with The Franchise Exhibitions organisers, we can ensure that only brands that adhere to these guidelines and receive accreditation are present at the shows.

What does this accreditation mean, and what significance does it have for visitors?

It reassures visitors that these are the only events where the trade body representing the sector has taken a snapshot assessment of each exhibitor, members and non-members alike, against a range of criteria – such as the franchise agreement and financial performance – allowing only those brands that can satisfy this process to be put in front of them. Each year there are companies that cannot meet those standards that are turned down for bfa membership and as exhibitors.

Why is visiting a bfa-approved event crucial to the research process and understanding if it is the right time to go into franchising?

The British Franchise Exhibition is an excellent way to start researching, with a combination of informative seminars and the chance to meet face-to-face with a wide variety of accredited franchisors and advisers, across a number of business sectors. Speakers at the bfa’s exhibition seminars are all longstanding experts in their field, providing outstanding access to a wealth of information, and the bfa team are always on hand to provide objective advice.

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