By the early 1970s franchising had started to show what it could really achieve in the UK, with a number of very successful businesses using ethical franchising as a sound and secure way to expand their business and offer numerous opportunities for people to own their own business.
However, as with every good idea, there are always those who want to capitalise on the benefits, but not commit to the best practice. It was for this reason that in 1977 eight franchise companies came together to form their own Association, the British Franchise Association, which would represent ethical franchising – based on formal criteria for membership and a code of business practice.
By the mid eighties the bfa had grown and developed, but already recognised the need to encapsulate the professional advisors from the industry into the Association. This would not only allow the industry to bring the professional advisors into the same fold with regards to best practice, but it would also allow potential clients to identify those advisors working to bfa standards. Therefore, in 1985 the Affiliate membership was created for professional advisors in franchising, which included banks, solicitors, consultants, media and various specialist suppliers.
As the UK industry grew and the international stage became more important, the bfa continued to grow both its membership and influence. By 1994 the bfa, along with a number of other international colleagues, founded the World Franchise Council, providing a formal platform for all major franchise associations around the world to share knowledge, and advise on international matters.
In recent years, the biggest development was the release of the bfa’s “One Vision” document in 2008. This outlined a better representation and more bespoke standards for Affiliate members and the engagement of franchisees into the Association as members in their own right.
In 2010 two franchisees were appointed to the Association’s Board of Directors, the number of Affiliates on the Board was increased from one to three, and a new set of standards was produced for Affiliates, which would be specific to six major disciplines. Additionally and very importantly, the bfa also gained the ability to start building a register of franchisees and ultimately offer those franchisees a membership of the bfa.
At the start of 2011 production of the Franchisee Register commenced and the membership offering for franchisees was outlined to the existing members of the bfa. By late 2011, the bfa had taken on a dedicated manager to make the Franchisee Membership a reality, so that it could be delivered in 2012. At the 2011 AGM a third franchisee was appointed to the Board of Directors. Franchisee Membership was launched in June 2012, to the thousands of franchisees of bfa Member Franchisors.