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Why more women should become franchisees

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We’ve heard that the future is female, and when it comes to franchising, we’re seeing that shift. According to Franchise Insightswomen, especially Gen Z and millennials, outpace men in seeking information about franchising, and today a third of franchises are owned by women.

In the 50 years US Census Bureau has tracked women-owned businesses, growing by a whopping 3,150%, with women owning more than 13 million businesses today. When I first got involved in franchising 30 years ago, I can’t remember a woman’s franchise brand, and there were very few female franchisees. Today there are examples of both, and their success is helping more and more women to make a career out of franchising.

Related: Here Are The 7 Traits You Need To Get Rich In The Restaurant Industry

Why franchising appeals to women

Many of the reasons franchising appeals to women are the same as the reasons it attracts men. Franchising gives women the opportunity to be their own boss while having the support and systems offered by a franchisor.

For women, franchising is also a way to narrow the gender pay gap that still exists in corporate America. Working women will earn by 2022 82 cents for every $1 that working men earn (the gap is wider for minority women). Female franchisees earn 90 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn.

Franchising often offers women a better work-life balance than traditional careers. Women can choose a franchise that has hours that coincide with school hours, for example, or brands that do not have weekend hours. With a general manager on site, owners are also free to set hours that work for them. The franchising model gives women much more flexibility about their schedules than working as an employee for another company.

“So many women left the workforce during Covid and are looking for something that offers the flexibility of franchising,” Pamela Fazio, a 20-year franchise veteran and current CEO of Duff’s Cake Mix, say. “I expect more women to turn to franchising. It allows them to be successful while also having the time to focus on themselves and their family.”

Related: Now is a better time than ever to get this type of financing for your franchise

Successful women in franchising

Today, examples of female franchisors and franchisees abound in the industry, and their success is fueling a new generation of women to join the franchise ranks.

In 1997, friends Dena Tripp and Debbie Shwetz started operating Nothing Bundt Cakes from their Las Vegas kitchens. Today, the popular dessert franchise has more than 430 locations in the United States and Canada. Shwetz left the company when a private equity firm invested in 2016, but Tripp stayed until this year, when the company sold.

Stacy Brown created a great chicken salad recipe and then figured out how to make new versions of the classic recipe, and in 2008 the Chicken Salad Chick was born. Today, the franchise has more than 285 locations. Brown is passionate about helping other women achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. She helps mentor and train employees, helps women develop business ideas and created the Chicken Salad Chick Incubator.

The success of these women and others like them is inspiring a new generation of franchisors. In 2022 Christine Cutlip, founder of Savannah Seafood Shack, began her franchise journey and she now has one of the strongest unit economies in the restaurant industry. In 2019, Ghazal Quershi started to give its franchise Idea Lab Kids International, and today it has 93 locations. At only 29 years old Toastique founder Brianna Keefe has four business locations and 37 franchises of her health-conscious cafe, either open or slated for 2023.

While many female entrepreneurs are expanding their businesses through franchising, even more entrepreneurs are attracted to become franchisees. According to a 2020 Women in Franchising report, from 2018 to 2020, women consisted of: 41% of new franchisees.

Related: Are You an Ideal Franchisee? Here’s how to find out.

Industry support

One of the most difficult hurdles for franchisees is finding access to finance. There is a funding gap between men and women, just as there is a gender pay gap. Entrepreneurs who are men 20% more likely than female owners to be approved for a business loan.

To encourage more women in franchising, several programs such as the SBA Loans for Underprivileged Entrepreneurs and the Office of Women’s Business Ownership can help women in raising capital. There are also national grant and loan programs to help women get funding, and today more and more people are using crowdfunding platforms to fund their franchises.

Lauren Fernandez, Chicken Salad Chick franchisee and general advisor to FOCUS Brands, is now helping other women succeed in franchising with Full coursea company that provides education, advice and investment to women who want to grow a business.

Since 1996, the International Franchise Association has helped push women into franchising through its Women’s Franchising Committee, and in 2002 launched the Franchise Network for Women, which helps women learn from other women in the industry. Because restaurants are a big part of the franchise industry, the National Restaurant Association helps women through its Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance.

With the resources available to women today, coupled with a path paved by the first generation of successful female franchisors and franchisees, the future for women in franchising is bright.

Disclosure: I am the CEO of Fransmart, a franchise group that partners with Duff’s CakeMix and Savannah Seafood Shack.

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