The BFA has been at the heart of franchising, so why no longer?

By Emily Price – chief operating officer at the BFA

Companies all over the world are assessing their relevance in today’s markets, ensuring products and services are fit for the consumer and implementing plans, processes and teams that support agile development environments and the British Franchise Association (BFA) is no different.

It is no secret that in recent years the BFA has come under fire for its ‘dated operation’ and to be honest I’d be inclined to agree with the statement.

The challenge for the current BFA leadership team and one we are pleased to accept is the transformation to a business that aligns as the natural strategic partner to any franchisor and their franchisees, delivering strategies that add significant value and facilitating market leading campaigns that put UK franchising on the map and in the minds of the next generation.

What’s our ‘why change’?
First and foremost franchising standards are everything, without them franchising would struggle to maintain the low failure rates, perception would hugely impact people’s appetite to invest and it is highly likely that consumers would think twice about where they spend their money.

That’s not to say that we believe franchisors are not capable of operating to high standards without the BFA, but it is certainly true that many require support and guidance to help them navigate the ups and downs of franchisor network development.

Of the 99 per cent of franchisors applying for membership some require a form of adjustment to their core framework in order to obtain accreditation and many go on to seek advice and guidance throughout the duration of their membership with us.

We don’t just keep our eye on the UK, the BFA sits on both European and global franchise councils to ensure we are well versed in opportunities and threats that arise globally and could impact the UK industry.

The UK developer accreditation has been born out of identification of unethical franchising trends globally, so in order to protect the UK industry we now liaise with international brands looking to enter so they fully understand the landscape and expectations in the UK.

Knowledge is power and with power we can influence
This message is critical to the future of franchising and whether you are a new franchisor, or 40 years into your network development, this is the reason to consider joining the BFA.

We have numerous examples of mistakes being made to the detriment of the industry and this intelligence drives our educational strategies, so what are they?

  • Free online education for franchisees and franchisors to support their knowledge of franchising prior to deciding on investing. This results in higher quality entrants.
  • Classroom and evidenced based training to help franchisee support teams, resulting in better franchise understanding and development structures.
  • High quality member conference programmes which deal with leadership, culture, sales, performance management, digital strategies and everything impacting the success of franchise businesses. Without dealing with the generic business trends franchising cannot expect to compete.
  • Industry surveys to identify trends, and support the strategic decisions of people operating in the sector. We also use this to present franchising in the media.
  • The Franchise Gym is set up to help maximise business performance in franchising, offering franchisors and their networks low-cost flexible solutions during development and change projects. Although in pilot phase this will officially launch this year in September.
  • The BFA, in collaboration with The Franchise Trust have built an employability programme to support different demographics into the workplace to secure a future in franchising. Our members and their franchisees will have the opportunity to support this initiative and see a collective franchise industry reduce UK unemployment.
  • If the BFA’s education could influence the UK’s academic agenda franchising would be in the minds of all youngsters going through this system – so that is what we are doing. An interactive video for school children, college franchise fairs, lecturer sessions in universities and potentially a new franchise module being designed by the BFA and a leading business school – watch this space.

Promotion for all who commit to the cause
The cause is the opportunity to build a strong industry that self protects within the collective to provide enviable circumstances for growth. In order to provide an ethical and fair approach to this there are a few rules:

  • If you wish to be involved you must practice what you preach and support the industry at large, this requires your commitment to the association to further broaden the reach and representation.
  • In recent years we have transformed the PR agenda to communicate not only in franchising but into businesses, sectors and regions to drive a growing awareness. Although we do promote the association through these channels we use evidence based case studies and our member brands to substantiate our messages.
  • Franchise guides have been produced and targeted digital campaigns run to expand reach using only our accredited advisors and franchisors.
  • Our website features numerous materials for people to be inspired by franchising and we are producing more opportunities for franchisors and their franchisees to benefit from the resources and partnerships we are building – our new website will be live in October.
  • This is of course the age of partnerships and this means that we are working hard in the background to create valuable opportunities that benefit franchising and our members – you will see some of our projects come to fruition over the coming months.

Is the BFA team up to the job?
The association’s management team has 80 plus years of experience in franchising both at the coalface as franchisees, leading strategies for franchisors and of course driving standards and education in the industry as confidents, advisors and influencers.

We are on a journey of transformation and want the industry to join us in leading the direction. So in answer to the question posed in the title of this article – the association no longer sits at the heart of this industry, it is at the forefront representing, innovating and leading the way, ready to support the next generation of franchisors, franchisees, business leaders and influencers, and help current members do the same.

My final thought
A quote from Henry Ford, ‘Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.’

www.thebfa.org