Identifying standards when investing in a franchise
British Franchise Association
Franchising is, undoubtedly, a successful business model and one which consistently outperforms other types of business structures in the start-up stages. Despite the industry’s strong credentials it remains important to conduct your own research and really look into a business’s background to understand not only whether the company is right for you, but also if it is a good example of its type and whether it will deliver what has been promised.
There are many excellent franchise businesses in the market – ones which are transparent, committed to their franchisees and focused on ensuring the longevity of the company. There are, however, a number of businesses that do not take the same approach – which begs the question: how do I tell the difference?
The issue of ethical franchises versus non-ethical ones is the cornerstone of the British Franchise Association’s (bfa) foundation. Established in 1977, the association is the not-for-profit voice of franchising in the UK. It operates to accredit and promote ethical franchising and, therefore, differentiate the good operators from the not so good. For a franchisor to be a member of the bfa, they must pass a strict accreditation process which looks at all aspects of the franchise operation to make sure it is proven, protected, ethical, sustainable and free of ambiguity and misleading statements.
What does bfa membership mean for the prospective franchisee?
The association has over 350 franchised businesses in membership that have been positively accredited as ‘good’ franchisors. Whilst membership of the bfa does not provide any warranty as to the likelihood of a franchisee achieving commercial success, the confidence that it can give you is invaluable – when a business is putting itself forward for close and careful scrutiny, it is demonstrating its commitment to investing in an ethical and sustainable business model. As with any business venture you must thoroughly investigate every franchise proposal before committing yourself.
When looking at a franchise business and whether they are bfa accredited, it is helpful to understand the three of levels of membership which can be achieved:
- Full Members: Full Members of the bfa are established franchised businesses with a proven trading and franchising record. They are prepared to have their reputation examined by the bfa, and have an established network of franchisees.
- Associate Members: Associate Members of the bfa have proven their ability to launch and support at least one franchised outlet for 12 months, and are now in the business of building their network. The franchisor will be investing in support and development. There will be few franchisees whose experience you can research and the business will have been tested over only a short period of time but there will be evidence of its ability to establish a solid network.
- Provisional Listing: Provisionally Listed companies are at the beginning of their development in franchising although the franchise may be at the pilot stage. There is a real business up and running where end products and services are being sold successfully to consumers. The franchise agreement is sound, and by joining the bfa the company has committed itself to develop the business in accordance with bfa industry standards.
Franchising remains one of the most successful forms of starting your own business, with extremely high success rates and much more security than starting out on your own without a proven system, support and brand. It opens up countless opportunities for people looking for a new start. Becoming a franchisee is a serious business option and one that requires hard work, lots of enthusiasm, dedication and business acumen. That is not to say that there isn’t a suitable franchise business out there for everyone, but you do need to choose carefully.