Age is no barrier in franchising

It's said that franchisors ignore millennials at their peril but the older generation has just as much to offer

Age is no barrier in franchising

According to research by AXA Wealth, more than 500,000 over-55s in the UK have been considering setting up their own business. It’s a far cry from the popular perception of people winding down, ready for their pipe and slippers.

Interestingly, another study from PRIME, the charity that supports older business starters, shows that companies launched by people aged over 50 have a 70% chance of surviving their first five years – compared to 28% of businesses started by under-50s.

In the UK franchise sector, we have seen older franchisees achieving great success, often after a career in a completely unrelated field. The 2015 bfa NatWest survey indicated that the average age for a new franchisee has remained fairly static at 41 but nearly a fifth of new franchisee recruits were over 50.

Some of the advantages that older franchisees can bring include the experience and contacts gained from years working in one or more sectors. Regardless of their previous work history, nothing can replace experience in dealing with colleagues, customers, offering great service and dealing with problems. And, more often than not, over-50s will be in a stronger financial position than younger people who are looking to buy a franchise.

Over the last few years, the bfa HSBC Franchisee of the Year Awards have had a category for ‘olderpreneurs’ – franchisees aged over 55. Last year we saw three fantastic finalists who have moved on from their previously successful careers to build their own businesses through franchising:

Mike Guerin has 13 McDonald’s restaurants across Bristol and Wiltshire, employing over 1,000 staff. He is one of only two franchisees to twice be awarded the McDonald’s Three Legged Stool award in recognition of his success. Guerin launched one of the early McDonald’s apprenticeship schemes in 2008 and eight of his current management team come from the very first programme that he ran.

Fran McLean operates a £1m-turnover business with six Pitman Training centres across Scotland, employing nearly 20 staff. She has pioneered Pitman Training initiatives including payment plans for students and flexible diploma courses. She is also using her centre to host exams as an additional revenue stream and this now makes up 10% of Pitman’s business across the UK.

Sue Caulfield overcame severe illness and a divorce to build her successful Metro Rod franchise in Oxfordshire. Despite these challenges, Caulfield has grown her business consistently and now operates six vans with nine staff and is set to turn over nearly £750,000 this year.

Franchising has plenty of success stories where older franchisees have clearly demonstrated age is no barrier. Without a doubt, career experience can make business ownership a considerably smoother journey.

Cathryn Hayes
Cathryn Hayes