SME: Guide for buying a franchise

By Oryana Angel    

Starting a business can be nerve-wracking for even the most seasoned entrepreneurs. Franchising, on the other hand, offers a slightly more nurturing environment one which is becoming increasingly appealing to women.

“Franchising provides lots of ways to instil confidence and reassurance in people who may have never owned a business before – that is appealing to a lot of women,” says Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) executive director, Steve Wright.

“For women, very often it’s just a question of confidence and not capability,” he adds.

At the moment, some 15 per cent of Australian franchises are run by women, equating to around 10,500 of the 70,000 odd franchises in Australia a number Mr Wright hopes will increase over the next

few years.

“We see there is a strong opportunity for women to get into business ownership through franchising in a way that is probably more accessible than the broader business market,” he says. The support mechanisms that are provided by the franchise brand make it more attractive to women, he adds: “This means the franchisees do not have to be able to do everything required to run a successful small business.”

Women are also generally relationship focused, he says, something critical in maintaining a winning franchise.

“The franchise will not be successful unless there is a constructive relationship with the franchisor and franchisee,” says

Mr Wright. “A lot of successful franchise owners are husband-and-wife teams.”

Supporting the bid to encourage more women into the area, the FCA has set up Women in Franchising, a group within the organisation which provides training and encouragement for women in the industry. One of the group’s major events is the annual Franchise Woman of the Year award.

Recipient of last year’s award, Sara Pantaleo, CEO of Italian restaurant franchise La Porchetta, has been an inspiration for many women in the industry. Under her guidance the company has developed from a family business into an international franchise with some 80 businesses in the group.

“Today, our franchisees see me as the main leader in the business and they respect me as an individual,” says Ms Pantaleo. “Gender doesn’t matter. I have a strong belief that women can get that respect.”

With around 15-20 per cent of the restaurant’s franchises run by women, men still drive the majority of the businesses however this is something that is rapidly changing.

“Women love our food,” Ms Pantaleo says. “Our customer demographic is female skewed.”

The business is also attractive to women because of the increasing number of systems in place: “They don’t necessarily need to be chefs themselves, they just need to hire the right people,” Ms Pantaleo says.

Her advice to other women thinking about getting into franchising: “Believe in yourself. Don’t allow anyone to tell you that it matters whether you are male or female. If you believe in something, go for it”.

Other successful female Australian franchisors include Boost Juice Bars founder Janine Allis, Fernwood Women’s Health Club creator Di Williams and Deb Shugg, who overcame enormous adversity to start her Award Bookkeeping franchise and become one the country’s pre-eminent female entrepreneurs.

Article from The Daily Telegraph, May 2011.

Related articles you might be interested in reading