Operating a franchise across international borders is about to get a whole lot easier
Earlier this year we held an international symposium where country representatives from all over the world congregated to find out more about cross-country franchise development. Lots of insight and expert advice from international franchise professionals was shared and it became very apparent that franchising is booming.
The World Franchise Council survey on the economic impact of franchising worldwide provides compelling evidence to back this up: the United States presents the global franchising industry’s largest economic output at $674bn and this is followed by France at $284bn and Japan at $214bn. These three regions alone have 6,635 franchise systems represented with over a million individual units in operation.
As an active member of the World Franchise Council, I often discuss international challenges in franchising and as a council group we review opportunities and initiatives that could effectively deal with these. One of the key difficulties for international franchisors is identifying which region to expand into and how best to do this. The bfa is proactively dealing with this challenge by piloting a new membership category that can support international expansion into the UK.
When designing the framework, great consideration has been given to ensure current standards are maintained. In order to qualify for the category, international brands should have an established, successful network in their current region of operation. This will form a baseline accreditation proving the franchise’s ability to effectively onboard, embed and support a network in an ethical way. Additional areas of compliance will be required in relation to the UK landscape assessment and subsequent development of foundation documents.
The opportunity for the brand is that they are committing to set up and operate according to bfa standards from an early stage. The member will be able to engage in all current member benefits but won’t be listed or receive their logo until they have their first year trading evidence. The aim is to provide guidance in the early days to help navigate the rocky terrain when piloting. Once 12 months of evidence of successful trading in accordance with the UK model can be provided and they have successfully passed a review, the member will transition to the provisionally listed category.
In order for the UK franchise industry to build a strong reputation, we take very seriously the impact that educational awareness can have. Our expanded membership to cater for international brands entering the UK market means that we can guide and influence people when they most need it. This ensures that franchisors are operating in accordance with the expected standards of the bfa to develop successful networks that can stand the test of time. In the long run, we should see more great examples of success across the franchisor and franchisee community as a result.