The new year is approaching, and it’s a good time to consider starting membership in a new network. There are quite a few associations and groups relevant to franchisors and franchisees in the UK, and here we provide a list of short descriptions of each one.
The franchisee network – for franchisees, this is obviously the most beneficial group. Networking with other franchisees in your brand allows you to learn from their experiences, and provide them with advice in return. While the franchisee networks may not all be as sophisticated as, say, Subway’s US franchisee organisation, many franchisors run conference calls or regional events where their franchisees can mix and knowledge can be pooled. If such a facility isn’t in place, it is something that you as a franchisee should consider suggesting to your franchisor. It is important to remember that those you network with don’t necessarily have to be from your franchise; all franchises are run on the same principles and exchanging ideas with those from other sectors can also be beneficial.
The British Franchise Association – this is the UK’s main self-regulating body for franchising. Membership of different levels is available to franchisors, who must meet strict criteria in order to be accepted into the association. Factors of assessing include franchise structure, following the BFA code of business practice, and how long the franchise has been operating. The reasoning behind this is that the association will help potential franchisees to choose a decent franchisor, and ensure that good franchises are accredited with the strong reputation that they deserve. The BFA also offers advice to those who are considering franchising their business, or to those who want to become a franchisee.
The Approved Franchise Association – launched just last year, this is the BFA's competitor. It prides itself on being fresh, both in the way that it operates and in the way that it supports the growth of the franchise industry. Services provided include guiding and accrediting franchisors, and advising and supporting franchisees and potential franchisors.
Encouraging Women into Franchising – accompanied by a pink website, this does exactly what it says on the tin. Three methods are used: 1. encouraging women to become franchisees 2. encouraging women with businesses to franchise them; and 3. encouraging franchisors to take on women as franchisees. Meetings are held, newsletters are sent out, and awards are given.
The Federation of Small Businesses – while this organisation focuses more on independent businesses, membership is still granted to individual franchisees. The federation’s main target is to act as a pressure group on behalf of the UK’s self-employed and small businesses, promoting and protecting their best interests at both regional and national level. It does this by putting pressure on MPs, the government and the media. Benefits to members also include legal and tax protection.
The Irish Franchise Association – when UK franchises are looking to expand abroad, the first country they consider to is usually the Republic of Ireland. Membership of this association is available to any franchise that operates in the country, even if it originated/is based elsewhere. This is the only representative body for franchising in Ireland, and its mission is similar to the BFA; to promote ethical franchising and help the industry to grow.