Read About the Officially Fabulous Franchisors
Tomorrow the British Franchise Association will be hosting its much-anticipated annual Franchisor of the Year Awards; honours that recognise which established and new franchisors in the UK are the best in categories such as brand awareness and franchisee recruitment. Such factors are of huge importance to any franchisor, and cannot be established successfully without rigorous and often expensive procedures.
20 franchisors were chosen as finalists, and here we summarise the bfa's statements on why they decided the following 10 stood out amongst the large number of entrants. Click on the links to see each franchise's profile.
Agency Express: this provider of 'For Sale' boards for estate agents is up for the most craved award of all: Franchisor of the Year. The main reason for its nomination is growth. The property market may have been hit hard during the financial crisis, but Agency Express's combined network turnover has grown by an incredible 122% during the same amount of time. This increase is thanks to franchisee support (such as head office helping with each franchisee's invoicing and credit control) and investment (for example, the management software is continuously being improved to help franchisees carry out paperless, on-the-go operations). These services come at no extra cost to the Agency Express franchisees.
Autosmart: this is the UK's largest manufacturer and supplier of professional vehicle cleaning products, and it has been nominated for the Franchisee Recruitment Award. Autosmart wants long-term franchisees only, and consequently its recruitment process is thorough, based on over 30 years of experience. The newly refined process includes a face-to-face interview, a discovery day, and a 'try before you buy' day. Autosmart judges its recruitment process not on the number of new franchisees it brings into the network, but by how happy and successful they are.
Bright & Beautiful: this domestic cleaning franchise is aimed at women, giving them the chance to take on a management position in a recession-proof industry. Nominated for the new award 'Emerging Franchisor of the Year' – the pilot franchise is no more than five years old – it has seen rapid growth in just a few years, but has still been able to keep up with the franchisee support required by keeping a strong infrastructure and introducing new panels. Launched by a mother, it allows franchisees (who come from all backgrounds) to keep a healthy work/life balance and still make a good profit.
Expense Reduction Analysts: five years ago this network of advisors decided it needed to undergo a complete culture change and place its franchisees at the very centre of the company's future. A Franchise Advisory Board, comprised of seven franchisees, was set up to form a strategic plan which focused on the success of current franchisees, rather than increasing franchise sales. Now new franchisees enter an Expense Reduction Analysts Academy which provides special support for the first 12 to 18 months after a franchise is launched; a new marketing system has been introduced to enhance sales; and free training is provided to all franchisees on a quarterly basis. The results? A surge in turnover and a nomination for the Franchisor of the Year Award.
InXpress: InXpress makes deals with major courier firms all over the world to provide SMEs with reduced postage rates. This UK franchise went international in 2006, and thanks to its efforts to learn each new country's culture and laws, its international training specialist who travels the world to meet with franchisees everywhere, and the fact that transactions are all done via ecommerce, it now operates in 15 countries, across six continents. This has earned it to be nominated for the Award for International Achievement.
Kumon: this franchise, the UK’s largest supplementary education provider, used to rely mostly on word of mouth to get attention. In 2012 a new strategy was formed – one that targeted the internet and specifically tablet- and mobile-based searches. Nominated for the Brand of the Year Award, it has had a complete online rebrand: redesigning its website to increase traffic, introducing a popular blog, gaining fans through social media, and successfully portraying its values to consumers at local and national levels.
Mail Boxes Etc.: two years ago, the number of franchises that this large company (retailer of delivery, postal and print and copy services) was selling had plateaued, and a new franchisee recruitment strategy needed to be established. Cue extensive reviews by internal and external sources, a change in how the right franchisees were found, and a nomination for the 2014 Franchisee Recruitment Award. Now recruitment is much more open and flexible with a special team giving leads full attention and options such as having a discovery day, or speaking to any franchisee they choose. Franchise sales went up 50% in six months, with recent recruits all ahead of their business forecasts.
Right at Home: the elderly population in the UK is growing rapidly, and so is Right at Home. This care franchise, nominated for Emerging Franchisor of the Year, is run by the former bfa Franchisee of the Year Ken Deary, who has 20 years' experience in the franchising sector and knows how to operate a network. Having seen success in the US, Ken brought Right at Home into the UK market in 2010 and with an excellent ratio of 1:6 head office staff to franchisees, with strong new training programmes always being developed, and emphasis on a high quality care service, this franchise is growing at a rate of 10 new starters around the country per year.
TaxAssist Accountants: as an accountancy service this franchise has recently seen challenges in the form of numerous changes to tax regulations, and HMRC resources being cut. Support has been critical for keeping franchisees ahead of the curve, and success in the form of a new Training Academy means that TaxAssist Accountants has been nominated for Franchisor of the Year. The franchisee intranet support site has been completely rebuilt, and marketing and technical helpdesks launched to help with growth strategies.
The ZipYard: many of us now recognise the striking yellow and black logo of The ZipYard, a tailoring franchise which is up for the Brand of the Year Award. It was introduced to the UK only three years ago, and every new franchisee's introductory package includes a comprehensive brand manual to ensure that consistency and standards are maintained across the network’s local marketing collateral. PR campaigns have also been extensive, including features such as local mayors or MPs unzipping new stores rather than cutting ribbons, and staff dressing up as the children's character Mr Zippy.