Why franchising works for women

The flexibility and support offered by franchising makes it the perfect fit for women, says Nigel Toplis, managing director of the Bardon Group

Why franchising works for women

Over a third of all of the franchisees currently running their own businesses within the Bardon Group‘s quartet of brands are women. And, if you take into account the many females working alongside their partners within Recognition Express, ComputerXplorers, KallKwik and the ZipYard, that number is far higher.

Franchising is an attractive proposition to women because of the business support available and the flexibility it provides to better balance work with family life. Buying a franchise means you can enjoy all the benefits of being your own boss, safe in the knowledge that you are buying into a proven business model that will back you all the way.”

Women join the Bardon Group at every stage of their working life, from leaving full-time education to following redundancy or early retirement. “

Sorcha Thomson from KallKwik Romford first started working in her parents’ franchise as a Saturday girl when she was just 16. After she finished college, she entered the business full-time and 25 years on she’s now running the printing and digital output company.

“This business has always been part of our family life,” says Thomson. “I grew up in it and as soon as I was old enough I wanted to get involved. Since I have been at the helm we have had a new energised focus. We’ve seen fantastic growth and for me the high point is seeing it progress.

“Even though I know the business backwards it’s reassuring to know that the head-office team is there to offer support and advice when I need it. The flexibility owning my own business provides is also very important to me. Little things like being able to pop home at lunch time to let my dogs out make the world of difference.”

Work-life balance is certainly an important aspect of family life. Jude Parker co-owns ComputerXplorers North Yorkshire with her husband Andy. Before buying the franchise she was head of marketing at a company turning over almost £100m. As they both reached 50 it was time to look at what they wanted out of life.

“I wanted something that had structure but that would also let me be entrepreneurial,” explains Parker. “Most importantly, the business needed to offer added value and real job satisfaction. We wanted to do something that gave something back to the local community. We’d also spent years working in commercial jobs that left little time for anything else so we wanted a better work-life balance as well as financial gain.”

Biology dictates that it is women who have children. Whether or not a mother decides to work after having babies is very much a personal decision but franchising provides the opportunity for people to combine looking after a family with running a business. Marie McConnell co-owns the ZipYard alteration and tailoring centres in Altrincham and Wilmslow with her husband Richard. She has a four-year-old daughter so owning a franchise offers her a good level of flexibility and at the same time allows her to put her passion for fashion to good use.

“Franchising has been great for me,” says McConnell. “I have taken something that I am interested in and used a proven model with ongoing support to establish a highly successful business in the local area.”

Before opening his first ZipYard outlet, McConnell’s husband Richard was a driving instructor. “I hardly ever saw him because of the long hours,” says McConnell.”

That’s all changed since the couple have taken on their franchise. “Owning our own franchise has given me the flexibility to manage my working life along with raising a family,” she adds. “Now the business is more established we both have the luxury of taking more time off to spend with the family, whilst at the same time building up a profitable business.””

For Jan Chidley at Recognition Express Hull and East Riding, the decision to set up her own business came when her three children had reached senior school age. It was time for her to build a career in her own right so at the age of 40 – and after a lot of research – she bought the promotional goods and clothing franchise. “

“It was both scary and exciting at the same time,” says Chidley. “I wanted to keep work and home life separate so chose to rent office premises that were halfway between home and school. I had never been in a working environment before. I bought myself a whole new work wardrobe and when it came to office skills I was like a dinosaur. I wasn’t computer literate and couldn’t even send an email. The children showed me the basics – and from there I taught myself.”

Eight years on, her children have now all left home and, as an ’empty nester’, Chidley has entered a new phase in her working life. “With our youngest daughter now on a foundation year before going to a top London drama school I have been able to take the business up a level,” she says. “Whilst year-on-year I have exceeded all my own goals as well as the targets set by my franchisor, having more time to spend in the business has helped me deliver significant results.”

Franchising undoubtedly ticks all the boxes for working women. With so many options to choose from and a franchise to suit every lifestyle, it provides a real opportunity to build a solid business underpinned by ongoing support.”

Nigel Toplis
Nigel Toplis