Not every woman wants to “Lean In” and climb the corporate ladder (with all the long nights and draining travel that might entail) while also trying to raise healthy, happy children at home. Many women, instead, seek a flexible career that provides income and satisfaction while also allowing them to drive to recitals or even to work from home. This type of position may be challenging to find in the corporate world, which leads some women to seek out franchising as an option. In fact, according to the International Franchise Association, in 2007, an estimated 20.5% of franchise owners in the United States were women.
Many franchisors actively seek to recruit women as franchisees and highlight the flexibility of their operation or the home-based nature of their franchise system as big selling points. Women seeking a franchise need to do their homework. There are just as many, if not more, risks for women who are seeking to navigate the road to successful franchise ownership. Here are just five important tips women should keep in mind before choosing a franchise:
1. Be Ready To Work
As I mentioned in a recent blog post, a flexible or home-based franchise is still a business. That means it requires your time, energy, and commitment in order to become a successful venture. In fact, you may come to realize that some flexible franchises aren’t as truly flexible as you thought.
For instance, I believe that a real estate agency can be a great franchise option, especially for women. On the outside, it may seem like the life of a real estate agent affords you a great amount of flexibility, but that often isn’t the truth. You could find yourself taking calls in the evening, or spending your weekends hosting an open house. Sure, you could do real estate part time, but your income would be affected. You must always understand the balancing act that is involved between the time you put into your business and the income you make.
2. Make Sure This Is A Legitimate Opportunity
Unfortunately, home based and part time franchises – the very franchises that are most appealing to many women – often have the highest risk of being duds. What do I mean by “dud”? I mean franchises that are in the business of selling franchises, rather than selling a product to consumers. Dud franchises make the majority of their money from the initial investment of new franchisees rather than from the success of the franchisees. These companies usually provide little support, a poor operating system, and little marketing. As a result, the majority of franchisees wash out, losing a significant investment in the process.
3. See How Other Women Succeed
Just because you aren’t sitting in a cubicle doesn’t mean a glass ceiling doesn’t exist within certain franchises. The best way to determine if your prospective franchise is truly female friendly is to speak with current female franchisees. Your prospective franchisor should allow you to contact current franchisees as part of your discovery process. When you speak with female owners, ask them about the flexibility of the position if that’s important to you and how many hours they put into their business each day, week, and month. Also, ask them if they feel like they have room to grow within the system, such as by purchasing additional locations or taking on an additional territory.
4. Understand The Operating System
The number one complaint we receive from franchise owners at the AAFD is the lack of support from the franchisor in managing and improving the business’s operating system. Women should review how a prospective franchise operates and make sure the system doesn’t have any big holes or obvious flaws. You can also learn more about the operating system in action by speaking with current franchisees.
5. Do Your Homework
The truth is, women must take all the same precautions as any prospective franchisee when considering buying a franchise. This is a HUGE decision, so I strongly advise you to work with a franchise attorney, review your franchise agreement carefully, and make sure you are working with a franchisor that treats its franchisees fairly. It doesn’t matter whether you want to invest $30,000 in a small, home-based franchise or $2,000,000 in a world-renowned franchise brand. You still need to plot your course carefully and make a smart choice.