Franchising is no longer a man’s world. As of 2019, women own or co-own over 35% of the franchise outlets in the U.S. – around 265,000 – according to the Franchise Business Review research firm. And in some industries, such as interior decorating, they far outnumber their male counterparts. A June 2018 Forbes article reported that back in 1995, the proportion of women-owned franchises was less than ten percent. By Sherri Wehner
Franchising is no longer a man’s world. As of 2019, women own or co-own over 35% of the franchise outlets in the U.S. – around 265,000 – according to the Franchise Business Review research firm. And in some industries, such as interior decorating, they far outnumber their male counterparts. A June 2018 Forbes article reported that back in 1995, the proportion of women-owned franchises was less than ten percent.
To gain a better understanding of why women are out-pacing the average growth, I interviewed two colleagues who collectively have close to 30 years of experience in franchising. Here are a few excerpts from my interview with Ashley Thomas and Susan Kothe of Gallagher Franchise Solutions.
Wehner: Why do you think women do so well in franchising?
Thomas: From the start franchising gives you all the tools and support necessary to succeed and I find women to be more willing to use them. Plus as women, we tend to place a high value on relationships. Working in franchising allows us to develop lifelong friendships because of all the franchise networking we have. And that’s pretty cool.
Wehner: What are some of the most successful traits of female franchisees you’ve worked with in your career?
Kothe: Most women I’ve worked with are very personable and easy to talk to. That goes a long way when you’re running a business. Also I find that women are much more likely to take advice about things they may not know a lot about, like insurance which is my field. You’d be surprised at what a difference that makes in being successful, or not.
Wehner: What kind of opportunity do women have in franchising, that they may not have in other industries?
Kothe: Definitely a support system. The other owners in your franchise are like a family. Striking a work/family balance is a little more achievable.
Wehner: What advice do you have for other women considering owning a franchise?
Thomas: Prepare to be overwhelmed, but know you’re going to love it every day. Don’t be afraid to use your franchise system to guide you. Not only do they want you to be successful, but they need you to be successful. Trust their guidance.
From my own experience in franchising, I’ve learned there are many reasons women succeed in Franchising. Here are a few:
Communication skills are critical when it comes to collaborating and networking to grow your business, and women are often thought of as the fairer gender where this is concerned. And franchisors love a good communicator.
Women tend to be highly focused on organization and can prioritize well with a keen eye for detail. These are great skills for a franchise owner, especially in the early days of operating a new business, when the ability to model the franchisor’s operating plan is a make-or-break factor.
Owning a small business is a fast-paced situation, with changing dynamics in customer trends, franchising requirements and technology. Women typically have the ability to think quickly and adapt when necessary. Definitely a strength for keeping your business afloat.
Franchisors want franchisees who are ambitious, but also willing to follow the rules. Going all the way back to their school days, females outperform males early on because they are more likely to follow the teacher’s directions (The Atlantic, 2014). The desire to follow the rules follows women into their careers, making them far more likely to successfully adopt the franchise business model.
Almost every small business requires a keen ability to deal with people and often times an owner’s emotional intelligence is just as important as their location, cash flow or even their product line. Studies have shown women have higher levels of empathy and trust, which are proven to be important business strengths. When used properly, women can leverage these skills to attract new customers and keep them.
All research suggests that women will continue to spur growth in franchising for years to come. As Thomas and Kothe agree, dreams of business ownership are achievable for anyone, regardless of gender, race or beliefs. You just have to be willing to take the risk.
– Sherri Wehner
Sherrie Wehner is a leading brand and marketing strategist, having created several successful retail and B2B brands throughout North America and Europe. As Principal and Chief Strategist for Wehner Marketing Group, she works with franchisors and franchisees to help them create successful revenue-generating strategies.
Designed with you in mind, Gallagher Franchise Solutions is committed to supplying you with solutions that make it easier for you to protect your business, care for your people and grow your profit. As the preferred franchise insurance provider, Gallagher’s proprietary 3P promise – Protect, People, Profit – encompasses business insurance solutions designed to meet your industry’s needs and your franchise’s exposures. Through our insurance program, Gallagher guarantees that each participant’s insurance coverage meets the minimum requirements of your franchise agreement. We also track all certificates of insurance for both you and your franchisees, allowing you to focus on your work at hand. Visit franinsurance.com to learn more.