May the Fourth (Force) Be With You – harnessing the power of a franchise network

Pip Wilkins, CEO of the BFA (British Franchise Association) delves deeper into the superpower that is the franchise network

Harnessing the power of a franchise network

Three BFA member franchisees reveal the help they’ve given and received and the ultimate benefit the network has given to their franchise businesses.

Although franchisors are generally quick to point out the power of their franchise network (which simply describes all the franchisees as a group) time and again we come across new franchisees who say they didn’t quite understand the enormous benefits the network would bring to them and their business, until they experienced first-hand.


With some franchising experts referring to the network as ‘the most valuable asset in the business’, you’ll now see that the commonly used hashtag #FranchisingStrongerTogether isn’t just about a franchisor supporting a franchisee, it also means franchisees supporting each other.  So how does a new franchisee make the most of this extraordinary support network? We spoke to three BFA member franchisees who have all given and received advice from the network as they grew their new businesses. 


“Invaluable support”

Fay Burrell, a franchisee with children’s swimming lesson franchise Puddle Ducks says: “As a franchisee, obviously the support of the franchisor is there and is so useful, but having the support of franchisees who have first hand experience in what you may be struggling with is just invaluable.  Knowing you are part of a supportive network is so reassuring.  We all are individuals and have expertise in many different areas and skills sets from previous roles etc, so even being one of the longest established franchisees, still being able to ask one of my fellow franchisees for support with something they excel at is so useful.”

Recruitment and management advice

Faye explains: “We have a franchise forum on Facebook where we can post questions or ask for support in something, or we can contact Duck HQ who will recommend a franchisee to help in a particular area.  I have recently been involved with some sessions on team recruitment and management as I have a strong and loyal team and have given some recommendations to new and existing franchisees. We are a fab bunch who always help out whenever we can.”

Ed Reid is now a master franchisor with TAB (The Alternative Board) having joined in January 2010 as one of the brands first franchisees and has embraced the supportive network ethos since day one.

Ed Reid

Emotional and tactical support 

“When I first started my TAB franchise, there were only two other franchisees operating in the UK at the time. So, because the network was so new, which I was obviously aware of when I signed, I knew that after my initial training, I was going to be relying on the franchisor giving me huge amounts of time and support on a one-to-one basis, and I got that.  I was also encouraged to spend time with each new franchisee as they came on board, and the mutual support we were able to offer each other was incredible. Some of it was tactical (for example, what was working well for each of us in our launch phase), but a lot of it was emotional support as well. We rode the rollercoaster together of the highs and lows that come with the early days of any business. Key to this was being honest with ourselves, and our peers. There’s often a lot of bravado involved at the start, and we all benefited more once we established that a level of vulnerability was key to developing truly trusting relationships.”


Grant Attwood, franchise owner of Right at Home North Somerset, reflects on the support he received, the questions he asked and the reciprocal help he now gives back to support his franchise network.  

Develop your own internal network

“At the beginning it was great to be surrounded by peers, some who were just starting out like me (occasionally a shoulder to cry on) and others who were many years into their journey, who were able to provide suggestions, advice, and inspiration. I soon developed a network of people who I got on with, were helpful, and whom I was pleased to listen to and help in return.”

Recruitment, growth and legislation 

Grant says: “The types of advice I still might ask my peers are ideas for boosting recruitment, business growth, bouncing around ideas for new processes, or trying to fully understand and get to grips with new pieces of legislation.  I think I did understand that having a network of peers would be very helpful to me, as the old saying goes “it can be lonely at the top”, but I was pleasantly surprised with the network, people seemed happy to make the time to speak with me when I needed help – we understand we are not in competition with each other but are here to all grow the brand together.’

As Fay, Ed and Grant have said, an active franchise network can be a support emotionally and commercially when it comes to starting your own business. When you are doing your due diligence and talking to franchisees, ask them about their network and the support they give each other. Do they use their online forums to chat and connect or are they only used by head office to share information? Try to talk to a selection of franchisees, from older to newer to see how much support they still give and receive. If the answer is ‘not a lot, I’m pretty much on my own’, then you may want to look for a more supportive brand. The happiness and effectiveness of the network cannot be underestimated and should be supporting each and every franchisee on their commercial journey; make sure you choose a brand that ticks all those boxes.

To find out more about the 300+ franchisors whose businesses have passed our rigorous auditing process to be accepted as members visit our website 

Pip Wilkins
Pip Wilkins