The Rise of Women in Franchising

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The Rise of Women in Franchising: A Driving Force in the UK Economy 

 Franchising in the UK has long been a dynamic sector, offering individuals the opportunity to own and operate their own businesses with the support of established brands. In recent years, there has been a notable surge in the participation of women in franchising, both as franchisors and franchisees. This trend not only reflects a changing landscape of entrepreneurship but also brings a unique perspective and skill set to the industry. 

 The numbers speak volumes about the increasing presence of women in franchising. According to recent data from the British Franchise Association (BFA), the proportion of female franchisees has been steadily rising, accounting for nearly 30% of all franchisees in the UK. Moreover, the number of women-owned franchisors has also seen a significant uptick, showcasing their growing leadership and influence within the franchising community. 

 What contributions and strengths do women bring to the franchising industry? 

 In my opinion women bring many different skills to the table, like making customers happy, building good relationships, coming up with new solutions to problems, and being good at talking to people. Women are often really good at creating friendly and helpful atmospheres, which is really important when working together in franchises. 

 Some shining examples of women’s success in franchising is evident in the stories of four remarkable entrepreneurs who have carved their paths in the industry, having worked with Ashtons Franchise Consulting to develop their franchise opportunity. They are all proud franchisor members of the bfa. 

Little Dream Consulting: 

Founded by Jenna Wilson and Fay Smith, this franchise offers sleep consultancy services for families struggling with baby and child sleep issues. They advise tired parents around the UK to help everybody get a better night’s sleep. Working with children from 4 months old up to 10 years old, they use a behavioural approach to provide support to the families. Their franchise model empowers other women to make a positive impact in their communities.

Jenna comments, “Franchising is such an incredibly supportive community and has been welcoming from the outset! There’s also a lot of support for women franchisees like EWIF and EWIB which we have found invaluable.”  

The Party Box 

Owned by Martine South, The Party Box franchise brings joy and excitement to special occasions – it’s a party shop and balloon specialist – catering for every occasion, from birthdays, weddings to planning, design and set up of corporate events. 

“From the moment ‘The Party Box’ came to life in 2013, it was more than a business to me; it was a way of becoming my own boss and in a way that I really enjoyed, being creative daily and inspiring customers”, says Martine. “The journey towards franchising wasn’t just about expansion but about sharing this dream with like-minded entrepreneurs who share our ethos of exceptional customer service and a passion for celebrations. In this journey, the role of women in the franchising industry cannot be overstated. Their resilience, innovative thinking, and ability to foster community and connection are transforming the landscape, making franchising more inclusive and diverse. The invaluable guidance from Phil Mowat, along with the inspiring solidarity from fellow franchisors and the British Franchise Association (Bfa), have been pivotal in our journey. As a woman in this vibrant community, I’m proud to stand alongside other female franchisors who are not just running businesses, but are also building supportive networks that empower more women to step into entrepreneurship. For me, franchising is not just a business model; it’s a community coming together to spread happiness, memorable experiences far and wide, and showcasing the remarkable contributions women can make when they lead.” 

 Fitter Body Ladies: 

Co-owner Alex Knight runs the Fitter Body Ladies franchise. It is revolutionising the fitness industry by offering tailored 28 day workout and diet programmes and personalised coaching for women over 30. Alex’s passion for health and wellness shines through in her franchise, inspiring women to prioritise their well-being and lead active lifestyles. 

 My Window Cleaner:  

As the founder of the UK’s first window cleaning franchise, Karen Prewer has transformed the traditional business concept with My Window Cleaner’s (MWC) innovative franchise model. Its reliability, high standards and commitment to customer satisfaction has earned both the brand and its franchisees a loyal clientele. MWC’s impressive, AI-powered, bespoke IT system has allowed Karen and her team to build an agile and robust franchise network. MWC has been the proud recipient of multiple industry accolades including the BFA’s ‘Best Emerging Franchisor Award’ and the Work Buzz ‘Best B2C Brand Award’ as well as two consecutive ‘Five-Star Franchisee Satisfaction’ awards. 

“I am utterly passionate about empowerment and growth both inside MWC and the wider franchising arena,” says Karen. “It’s a privilege to be a part of a community with so many driven, articulate, and influential female leaders who bring so much to the table.” 

These women-led franchises exemplify the diversity and dynamism of the UK franchising landscape. They not only demonstrate the entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen of women but also highlight the importance of representation and diversity in driving innovation and growth. 

As more women embrace franchising as a pathway to entrepreneurship, it is essential to continue fostering an inclusive and supportive environment where women can thrive and succeed. By harnessing their unique talents and perspectives, women are not only reshaping the franchising industry but also contributing to the broader economy and society as a whole. As we celebrate their achievements, let us also recognise the immense potential they hold in shaping the future of franchising in the UK and beyond. 

Words by Phil Mowat, Managing Consultant at Ashtons Franchise Consulting for The BFA Magazine, The Rise of Women in Franchising, March 2024 edition. 


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