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In the Media

We are often the source that the media will seek for a comment or an article on situations that affect franchises or franchising. The following are some of the articles which were published in the National Press.



Making the life changing decision

Every year hundreds of people make the life changing decision to give up full time employment for the chance to be their own boss by investing in a franchise. Hot on the heels of National Franchise Week, and last weekend's highly successful National Franchise Exhibition at the Birmingham NEC, no doubt many more people will be thinking about joining them.

With a proven business concept and a franchisor to provide training and support, franchising is now recognised as one of the safest routes into business ownership.

For extra reassurance, prospective franchisees are strongly advised to look for their ideal franchise among the members of the BFA, an organisation that can also provide expert help and advice on becoming a franchisee.

BFA business development manager James Eades said: "BFA members have demonstrated a strong commitment to ethical business format franchising and excellent standards of practice, which provides additional peace of mind to prospective franchisees."

Karen Perkins, 35, has run a Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Club franchise in Suffolk and surrounding areas for the last six and a half years. In her franchised area she runs 22 classes every week.

Before joining Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs, a full member of the BFA, she worked as a business development manager in the financial services sector.

She said: "Although it was a good job with excellent prospects, and a company car, the banking industry was starting to change and I knew it was time to move on."

Karen also liked the idea of working for herself in an environment that would be much more people orientated. She was already familiar with the Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Club having followed its revolutionary `Hip and Thigh Diet` since 1988.

"Knowing that the diet worked, and the prospect of teaching exercise - something I loved Ð helped me make up my mind that this was what I wanted to do."

After completing the initial training programme and becoming a qualified exercise to music fitness instructor she launched her franchise and has had no regrets about her life-changing decision.

She said: "The best thing about running the franchise is that it fits into your lifestyle. I now have two instructors working with me, they are great friends as well as colleagues and together, we make a great team.

"I've also managed to combine caring for my five-year-old son with running the business. I like the fact that I choose my life and that someone else doesn't plan it for me. I work when it suits me and my family, which at the moment includes running classes four evenings a week."

The BFA has developed a seminar programme for prospective franchisees, focusing on the key information to be considered when evaluating a franchise. This includes developing the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to assess and prioritise franchise opportunities, to understand the franchisor's requirements and assessment criteria, and to fully appreciate the franchisor-franchisee business relationship.

The BFA is the home of ethical franchising, with a membership base of 287 franchise brands covering 13 industry sectors. For more information visit www.thebfa.org.uk

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Doing a job that interests and excites you

If you are tired of working for someone else and long to be your own boss, doing a job that interests and excites you, then it is definitely worth a look at the many opportunities that franchising offers.

With National Franchise Week, sponsored by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, just around the corner, now is an ideal time to start exploring the possibilities that the £9.1 billion UK franchise industry has to offer.

Many people have already taken the plunge, giving up unsatisfactory or stressful jobs to become successful franchisees.

Franchising enables talented business people to enter the world of self-employment and own their own business, yet with the support of a trusted business model.

Scott Badcock spent 15 years working in banking and finance before deciding to try something new. He gave up the city rat race, with its long hours and increasing stress levels, to become a franchisee with Benjys Delivered, operating delivery routes around Leamington Spa and Warwick Benjys Delivered operates from a fleet of vans, which are run by franchisees and use the latest technology to transform into retail sandwich outlets within 30 seconds.

Mr Badcock said: "Working in the financial sector was challenging, but I found it increasingly difficult to get any job satisfaction. I decided to look into franchising; one of the best options if you are looking to branch out on your own.

"I had no previous food retail or catering experience, and was looking for a simplistic business model that was straightforward to follow, yet delivered results. When I went to the British Franchise Exhibition, Benjys Delivered stood out a mile."

He was also drawn to the fact that Benjys is an associate member of the BFA, which provided additional reassurance when he made the decision to invest. Having launched his franchise in January, he is now making plans for expansion, which will include investment in two more vans.

Franchising represents a broad range of business sectors, all of which can offer significant advantages over an independent business start up. However it is important for prospective franchisees to carry out their own thorough research of the market and of any franchises that interest them before making a decision to invest.

The BFA, which can offer a wealth of information and advice on becoming a franchisee, and point people in the right direction for help with everything from franchise agreements to raising finance, should be their first port of call.

BFA business development manager James Eades said: "Buying a franchise is a serious commitment, and the most successful franchisees are those that fully research not one but several different franchise opportunities, enabling them to choose the franchise which best suits their own personal and financial aspirations.

"The BFA has developed a seminar programme for prospective franchisees which provides the key information that should be considered when evaluating a franchise. We will be running free seminars on this subject throughout the National Franchise Exhibition."

National Franchise Week, the highpoint of the franchise calendar, starts on October 3 and culminates in the National Franchise Exhibition at the Birmingham NEC on October 7 and 8.

For more information visit www.nationalfranchiseweek.co.uk or www.thebfa.org.uk

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Take a closer look at franchising

In the run up to National Franchise Week, now is the time for anyone who is thinking about a change of career, or running their own business, to take a closer look at what franchising has to offer.

With a turnover of £9.1 billion, the franchise industry encompasses a vast range of franchise opportunities, representing all business sectors, which can offer significant advantages over an independent business start up.

Instead of starting from scratch on their own, franchisees are buying into a tried and tested business concept with an established brand name, that offers comprehensive initial and ongoing training and support available, and a network of like-minded franchisees who can provide additional help and support.

Choosing a British Franchise Association member provides added reassurance. BFA business development manager James Eades said: "BFA membership should be one of the first things you look for when considering buying a franchise.

"All BFA members have subjected themselves to a robust accreditation process and can only join the BFA if their franchise offer is ethical, viable and is a proven business system."

Thousands of people have already made a career move into franchise ownership and are reaping the benefits. When Jeremy Mumford, 50, was made redundant from his position as director of a City investment bank he saw it as an opportunity to do something different.

In 2002 he took on the Colchester franchise for Swisher franchise, a provider of washroom cleaning and sanitation services, and a full member of the BFA. He said: "Although I'd never run my own business before and had absolutely no knowledge of franchising, I found the thought of being in control and making my own decisions very appealing.

"I researched numerous franchises, but was eventually impressed by Swisher. The staff were very helpful and open, and I was particularly impressed by their attitude to ethical selling - I detest high pressure sales Ð and also liked the potential of being able to building a viable business quickly."

Having no previous knowledge of the cleaning industry or washroom sector he was also attracted to the extensive training that the company provided. In addition to sales and service training Swisher also provide ongoing business training, which covers specific topics such as managing staff, customer care, marketing, and profit and loss.

"The day to day support is excellent and other franchisees in the network are always willing to talk and help each other," added Mr Mumford.

Two years on, he has exceeded the goals set out in his original business plan, success that was recently recognised when his Swisher franchise was nominated as a finalist in the New Company category of the Colchester District Business Awards 2003.

He said: "My short term goal is to achieve a turnover exceeding £500,000 and high net profits in line with the rest of the network. I would sum up my experience with Swisher as great and something that I would definitely do again."

National Franchise Week starts on October 3 and culminates in the National Franchise Exhibition at the Birmingham NEC on October 7 and 8. For more information visit www.nationalfranchiseweek.co.uk or www.thebfa.org.uk

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Assessing franchise income

People are attracted to franchising for many reasons, not least because it eliminates many of the risks and uncertainties of starting up in business independently.

A proven system, a sound support infrastructure, and perhaps most appealing of all, insight into potential earnings based on the performances of pilot schemes and existing franchisees.

But how reliable are the projected turnover and profit figures frequently offered by franchisors? For members of the BFA, they must stand up to rigorous scrutiny, but even so, the responsibility for establishing their feasibility in any territory lies with the individual prospective franchisee

BFA business services manager James Eades said: "Projected earnings figures for full and associate BFA members must be proven to be achievable, but they are only a guideline.

"Prospective franchisees must draw up their own business plan based on figures that relate to their territory and circumstances. The best advice is to speak to as many franchisees in the network as possible and ask them how their business performed in the first year, whether or not they reached the projected figures, and how support was provided by the franchisor."

Cathryn Hayes, head of franchising at HSBC Bank, says prospective franchisees need to study the figures in detail.

She said: "You will need to ensure that any profit and cash flow forecasts provided by the franchisor are based on realistic assumptions. For example, if typical sales are shown as £3,000 per week, ask how many customers this relates to. In a coffee shop, the average customer might spend £3.00, so you will need 1,000 customers to reach that sales figure, whereas in a specialist hi-fi shop, you might only need three customers spending £1,000 each.

"Ask the franchisor what the figures are based on - are they an average of all the existing franchisees or an average of franchisees in their first year of trading? For a new start up, this is important, as you are unlikely to reach the sales levels of more established franchisees. And don't forget to look closely at matters such as how the franchisor takes its income and what other fees may be payable."

Any projected earnings offered by a franchisor must also be viewed in context with the number of hours needed to be spent working on the franchise and the number of staff required.

Someone who intends to work alone on a less than full time basis can't expect to achieve a six-figure projected turnover figure based on someone working full time and hiring staff.

Even so, some of the figures can be very enticing. The best advice, says Richard Holden, head of franchising at Lloyds TSB, is to seek professional advice before making any decision.

"There is no substitute for carrying out thorough independent research," he said. "That includes your own, and that carried out by a professional accountant. If the figures appear too good to be true, it may that they are. This is one very good reason for choosing a BFA member, as you have the reassurance that their figures have been carefully vetted and proven." But even where projected earnings are proven to be achievable, they are only projections, and not guaranteed.

The BFA is the home of ethical franchising, with a membership base of 287 franchise brands covering 13 industry sectors. For more information visit www.british-franchise.org.uk

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Getting a head start

Some of the most successful franchisees had no previous experience or knowledge of the franchise industry.

But a growing number of franchisees are giving themselves a head start by virtue of having already worked for the company as a member of staff.

There are obvious advantages to this; someone who has worked as a store manager for a high street retail franchise, or as a driver for a domestic services operation, will have a good grasp of how the business operates, how much time and effort is required to make it a success, and the level of support provided by the franchisor.

Adrian Bartlett became a franchisee for furniture care specialist Safeclean, a full member of the BFA, having originally worked for several years as a Safeclean technician in Sutton Coldfield.

Just 18 months after taking on the franchise, which covers the areas of West Bromwich and Dudley, he is expanding the business to include areas such as Stourbridge.

It was working as a technician and seeing the Safeclean franchise system at first hand that gave him the incentive to become a franchisee.

He said: "I researched a number of other franchises, but felt that many of them were quite restrictive. It just didn't feel to me as if I was going to be running my own business. With Safeclean there is a bit more scope for doing things your own way, but with the reassurance of having the full back up and support of the franchisor."

A prospective franchisee with knowledge and experience of the franchise they plan to invest in is also likely to be looked upon more favourably by the banks should they need to raise finance.

Franchisors, too, can see advantages from recruiting new franchisees from within the network, but insist that it is a process that has to be managed carefully.

Safeclean franchise director Craig Henthorn said: "It is happening more regularly, perhaps as an indication that people are becoming more entrepreneurial nowadays, and it is encouraging. However it is not something we undertake lightly.

"The circumstances must be right, not just for us and the prospective franchisee, but also for the franchisor who has employed them. Recruiting new staff can be a challenge, and we would want to ensure that the franchisor was happy with the situation."

BFA business services manager James Eades said: "We are seeing one or two examples of employees becoming franchisees. An employee who is thinking about investing in a franchise is in an ideal position to see the running of the business, warts and all, and that can only help the decision making process. "They are better placed than someone from outside the business in terms of identifying whether they have what it takes to succeed with that franchise, and they can quite literally put themselves in their boss's shoes before they make a decision."

The BFA is the home of ethical franchising, with a membership base of 287 franchise brands covering 13 industry sectors. For more information visit www.thebfa.org

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Franchising and corporate social responsibility

Businesses that invest in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity can reap significant rewards in terms of brand awareness and market opportunities. Franchises that can engage their entire network of franchisees in CSR activity stand to gain even more.

"By their very nature franchises stand to gain considerably from CSR involvement," said BFA business services manager James Eades. "The franchisor can get involved in CSR activities to raise brand awareness at a national network level, while the individual franchisees who take part in these activities help to raise brand awareness at local level."

CSR activities range from employee volunteering schemes and fundraising campaigns, to sponsorship of local community groups and often involve management and staff.

Last month (June) four representatives from BFA full member Swisher in Scotland took part in the WaterAid Munro Challenge 2005.

John Ross from Swisher Central Scotland and Mike Heriot from Swisher Edinburgh, along with their two sons Iain Ross and Iain Heriot, took part in the challenge to raise £300,000 for WaterAid, a charity dedicated to providing safe domestic water to the world's poorest people.

The four were among 3,109 climbers in 589 teams who reached the top of most of the mountains over 3,000ft in Scotland, England, Wales and the Republic of Ireland on the same day - a world record achievement.

The same month, two people from Swisher Bournemouth took part in the Walk for Life in aid of Cancer Research. One of them was Swisher Development Director and BFA South West Regional Chairman Marilyn Keen.

She said: "As an ethical franchise Swisher has always encouraged corporate office and the network to get involved in charitable activities and community involvement on both a national and local level.

"It not only enhances their business reputation and standing within the local community, but also helps to raise general awareness and financial contributions to a wide range of charitable causes. As a leading franchisor, we feel it is our way of giving back to the community."

Sponsorship of the Milton Keynes and Border Counties Youth Football league is proving a worthwhile venture for Castle Estates, a full member of the BFA, who recently presented the youngsters with their end of season shields and trophies. Managing director Neil Hollingworth said: " As a national company working within the property industry, we feel it is very important to support the communities in which we are assisting to find homes for. This one way of showing our commitment to the local communities."

If the Milton Keynes sponsorship pilot proves successful, Castle Estates plans to promote the concept of youth football league sponsorship to its 50-strong franchise network on a national basis.

James Eades added: "Some of our members have been actively involved in local community and educational projects for a number of years, and have realised the benefits it brings to their brand image on a local and a national level." The BFA is the home of ethical franchising, with a membership base of 287 franchise brands covering 13 industry sectors. For more information visit www.thebfa.org

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A lifeline for people facing redundancy

Investing in a franchise could prove to be a lifeline for people facing redundancy, if feedback from a recent BFA seminar organised for redundant Rover workers was anything to go by.

In a joint venture with the Learning and Skills Council and Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, the BFA presented a number of free half-day franchise seminars for 43 ex-Rover employees last month.

BFA business services manager James Eades said: "The purpose of these special seminars is to inform Rover workers about franchising and the many opportunities that the industry could offer them. Everyone who attended had expressed an interest in self-employment and they all found the seminars useful and informative."

Among those attending the seminar, several said that the event had made them think carefully about their future and consider franchising as a realistic way forward.

Others admitted that they had little knowledge of what franchising was or how diverse the industry could be, which prompted a large number of questions. Redundancy has traditionally proved to be a good source of prospective franchisee candidates, and because of the ongoing difficulties experienced by many franchisors in finding suitable candidates it is generally viewed in a positive light.

Figures from the 2005 NatWest/BFA franchise survey showed that last year six per cent of new franchisees had been made redundant or were unemployed immediately before taking up their franchise.

Mr Eades added: "Many franchisees enter the industry through redundancy because they have spent a long time working for someone else and want to realise some of their own dreams. Franchisors often look for people like this with life skills and self-motivation because they make great franchisees.

"With 88 per cent of all franchisees claiming profitability, franchising is a great option for Rover workers who want to take control of their future and become their own boss."

The seminar programme looks at topics such as the relationship between the franchisee and franchisor, the advantages and disadvantages of franchising, and the role of the BFA.

Issues such as raising finance, understanding the franchise agreement and seeking expert legal advice, and assessing the available training and support provided by the franchisor are also covered.

The aim of the seminars is to establish whether franchising is right for an individual, regardless of their industry background or employment status, and to help them develop the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to assess and prioritise franchise opportunities.

Underpinning any successful franchisee appointment is a clear understanding of the franchisor-franchisee business relationship.

BFA communications manager Johanna Roughley said: "While franchising is a great opportunity to enter the world of self-employment, it is important for anyone considering becoming a franchisee to remember that while they will be their own boss, they must follow the system the franchisor had set out in the operations manual.

"The franchisor has thoroughly researched the market and knows how the product or service works in that particular market."

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