Women in franchising
Pip Wilkins, CEO of the British Franchise Association (bfa), explains what it takes to be a successful female franchisee, talking to three inspirational women from Bright & Beautiful
It has been 50 years since the ladies of Dagenham threw down their tools at the Ford plant in their frustration at unequal pay. This act of solidarity paved the way for the 1970 Equal Pay Act and is still considered instrumental in pushing forward women’s rights. This is made evident by the increasing number of women who are now in franchising, taking the initiative to be in charge of their own careers. While women are still not achieving equal pay to their male counterparts in many industries, franchising seems to be becoming the clear choice for women who wish to attain equal pay and career growth. Female entrepreneurs contribute a huge amount to the economy, and have so much to offer as business owners, which is why we need to see more women take that journey into small business ownership.
Being a leader
Both men and women possess the same qualities to lead a business. Toni Hibbert, a franchisee at Bright & Beautiful, an award-winning domestic cleaning service that was established in 2007 after founder Rachel Ray couldn’t find a cleaning service she liked, believes she brings her own brand of leadership to her business, saying; “There are many ways to get the same results in business and maybe there is a false belief that you have to be ‘tough’ to get things done. I know that I have had to work very hard and find a resilience to keep going so I am confident that whatever happens I will be successful.”
Jo Vowerg, a franchisee recruitment manager for Bright & Beautiful, says: “While we’ve evolved over the past 10 years and now have more and more men and couples joining our network, the Bright & Beautiful brand was inspired and informed by our desire to empower women, a value that remains just as strong today. Perhaps because we have always been a company led by women for women, our ethos has always been a very supportive, sharing and inclusive one; all values that we know women value.”
What it takes
What will it take for anyone who is looking to buy and run their own business? It will always take the same components; resilience, determination, and a willingness to improve, something that Toni agrees with, stating: “You need to be open to learning and self-development and be prepared to make a few mistakes along the way.” However, not everyone is the same, and people joining franchising come from all walks of life, each being able to bring something different to the table, which is echoed by Claire, she says “We all have different life and career experience and many of these skills are transferable to operating as a franchisee. Drive, motivation and a desire to succeed are key, along with communication and maintaining relationships.” A successful leader is someone who believes in the team they have and builds others up, a sentiment echoed by Claire Pearson: “Leading by example is vital for anyone in a leadership role. Believing in, trusting and empowering others is rewarding as is seeing others grow in confidence as you work with and guide them. Good communication, sharing goals and providing guidance are also key.”
It’s hard going it alone, which is why it is important to surround yourself with a supportive and trusted team, Jo knows this is vital to her success: “I work closely with my team, communication and clarity are vital for any form of flexible working and have been key to making it a success for me and the wider Bright & Beautiful team.” The more you communicate with your colleagues, the more you can enjoy running your own business,
The journey into franchising has been a positive one for these three women, who believe that it has opened up more opportunities for them to use their skills and business acumen.
The bfa celebrates women in business every year with an annual, women-only event that champions women, with key speakers, specific themes and discussing the issues of today. This year, it is held at the Nottingham Belfry, branching out past franchising and into business in general, titled Empowering Women in Business and focusing on the key themes of leadership, culture and well-being. Up to 200 women will be in attendance, in what is one of the key events on the bfa calendar.
To find out more or to book, go to the bfa website here.