Why women are a natural fit for the franchise opportunity
More women than ever are stepping into the franchise industry, and as a panel of female franchisees explains, there are more than a few good reasons.
During a session discussion at the International Franchise Expo held at the Javits Center in New York in mid-June, several successful female franchisees and franchisors shared insights and tips on succeeding with a franchise operation, as well as reasons why females boast several skills and traits needed for success.
Women, explained Stacey Mobley, a Dream Dinner franchisee based in Mobile, Alabama, tend to be better organizers and skilled at delegating.
"It's our natural skills at managing, at building relationships," she told the audience, which not surprisingly was mostly women, though two men attended the session.
As Mary Kay Liston, president of the Five Star Painting franchise, noted, women also tend to have strong communication skills — a necessity for franchise business operation.
"We're communicators. We have the gift of that — it's all about relationships," she said.
Communication and relationshi-building are key to success because franchising is all about building strong partnerships, explained Mobley.
Ashley Sawyer, director of franchise development at Burger 21, said most times women are already adept at another critical franchise skill: multi-tasking.
"Women wear a lot of hats," she said, adding that many franchisees want to be involved in their local communities and women tend to do that naturally.
All the panelists agreed women tend to be more passionate, and passion is a mandate to be successful.
"You need to be super passionate," said Shane Evans, co-founder, president and COO of the Massage Heights franchise. "To be successful it comes down to the people and it's not easy and you really, really have to work hard and know what you want," she said.
On the flip side, female franchisees and franchisors can also face unique challenges that their male counterparts may not. One is balancing the business work demand with the responsibilities of family, which many women tend to take the lead on in their families.
"Time is the biggest challenge and we tend to put pressure on ourselves to be all to family, kids and the business," Evans said, adding, the reality is "you can’t do it all."
So another necessary skill is the ability to hire staff whose skills can help better balance the workload.
Women who are interested in running a franchise, or establishing their own franchise businesses, need to do the same homework as male colleagues, the panelists acknowledged. One big step is to talk to franchisees to get insight and determine if the type of franchise is a good fit in terms of lifestyle. That's a critical aspect, noted Liston, as "your business takes on your personality, culture."
In researching a franchisor Mobley recommends meeting with as many people as possible in the organization and getting a very close look at the culture.
"The partnership [between franchisee and franchisor] is very important and you need to have support and trust," she said. "It's not just about the business but the values and beliefs of the franchise."
"You definitely need to be a good fit for one another," Evans said.
Burger 21's Sawyer recommends that potential franchisees actually spend time working at an up-and-running business.
"Go observe and work in the business, in the trenches, as then you’ll see if it's a match with what you want to do," she said. Burger 21 encourages potential franchises to do that in order to get real hands-on experience, she said.
In the end, noted the panelists, the goal is to create a win-win business venture for both the franchisee and the franchisor. If that happens, she said the franchise has a solid footing for success.
"You can create your own destiny, have the opportunity to impact the community. The sky's the limit," said Evans.
Judy Mottl / Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.