The last 10 years has been a period characterised by huge change – economic, people migration, globalisation, cultural and frankly change is only likely to be more prevalent going forward.
On the business front we have seen a growing ‘ sophistication’ of the customer.
Customers no longer defer to the supplier – they are more knowledgeable, they’ve become more demanding and they expect a higher level of professionalism and value for money from suppliers.
In business terms this has meant investment in new products and services and the creation of more energy in the marketplace.
On the other side of the coin however, we’ve seen the constant displacement and redundancy of employees as manufacturing finds a cheaper cost base and technology develops at a pace most of us can’t keep up with.
One of the grest advantages of Franchising – and there are many – is that franchising offers an ideal vehicle for the ‘recycling’ of large numbers of individuals.
Franchising is the perfect home for individuals who want to work for themselves AND want to create personal wealth which is directly related to the effort they are ready to invest in.
That is franchising offers the right people the opportunity to be in control; to get rewarded directly for their own efforts and to create a level of security not available when working for others.
Theoretically, franchising is an ideal business ‘partnership’ – because it offers substantial benefits to all involved.
With a franchise the franchisor offers experience, know-how, proven operation methods, marketing tools, sales training, technical guidance as well as a corporate identity, trademarks and the all-important brand.
Because there is this extensive support structure available franchisees come from a wide range of backgrounds and previous experience, and running a franchise is conducive to a variety of transferable skills, including project management, marketing, operations and sales, and the franchisor is there to help if you need to boost any skill sets.
It is this marriage of the skills, work ethic and ambition of the franchisee with the system, tools and structure of the franchisor that makes franchising the success it is – an industry worth over £15 billion and employing more people than the combined UK armed forces!
And yet franchising could be even more successful, employ even more people and establish even more businesses.
My frustration with franchising is not that franchising only accounts for circa 9%-10% of retail sales in the UK compared to 45%-50% in the US; nor that we still see some failures in UK franchising; nor that use the word ‘franchising’ to describe everything from a rail network to a football club.
My frustration is that franchising is not the first port of call for universities and colleges teaching business courses.
We lecture students about how to start up their own business – about taking responsibility for researching their market, for investing in their brand, for planning their market campaigns, for designing collateral and marketing programmes and yet we see most educational establishments effectively ignoring a system that does all these things for the start-up business person!
So there is little recognition in academia for franchising (with the notable exception of Lancaster University I might add) – what about in government?
Well you would think that local government would promote franchising as a matter of course – as a genuine means of regenerating their towns and cities for here is a system that is designed to enable ordinary Joans and Johns to build their own business within a proven structure with all the ‘corporate’ back up and support that individual start-ups simply don’t get.
In my experience, the best you get from the local government is a blank and confused look!
Surely then Nigel national government can see the logic?
Well, some MP’s certainly can but frankly it will take more effort (and sustained effort at that) by both MP’s and more importantly by influential members of the franchise community and the British Franchise Association to get the Business Secretary to become significantly interested.
I look forward though to the day when a government reshuffle creates a new post of ‘Minister of State for Franchising’
I am a franchisor and have been in franchising for some 22 years and it is my fervent belief that there is nothing to match good franchising for creating businesses, creating jobs and ultimately for creating wealth and just because academia, local councils and government can’t seem to grasp that doesn’t mean that it is wrong.
Ultimately, of course, it is down to the franchising community to better promote itself to champion the case for franchising to put itself forward when the media want a quote on the plight of small businesses, on how a policy change will affect Britain’s entrepreneurs or how the minimum wage will impact on our 600,000 employees.
Franchising has come a long way in the UK and we have many, many well established franchise brands on the high street and regularly and competently servicing millions of satisfied customers.
BUT, you just feel we could do a lot more!