Fruit Bars to Healthcare: Women Leaders Rising in Franchising

It isn’t so obvious from a glance down the aisles of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center for the recent Franchise Expo Midwest where it appears that men outnumber women about 8 to 1. But more women are entering the entrepreneurial world of franchising.And for good reason.“The reason more women get into franchising is women are sick of seeing others get promotions, so they want to take charge and be self-sufficient,” says Effie Katris, a coach with the The Entrepreneurs Source, a franchised consulting company.[bctt tweet=“More women, like President & CEO of Happy & Healthy @LindaKamm, are entering the entrepreneurial world of franchising. And for good reason. #womenleaders” username=“takeleadwomen”]According to the International Franchise Assoication, “30.6 percent of franchised businesses were female-owned compared to 32.8 percent of nonfranchised businesses in 2012.” That is their most recent study and it also shows, “Franchised businesses were more likely to be equally male/female-owned than nonfranchised businesses – 14.8 percent compared to 10.7 percent.”More recent numbers show even bigger increases for women.“Franchise experts report a rising trend in women entering the world of franchising. Between 2011 and 2017, female franchise ownership jumped by 83 percent, while male ownership only increased 13 percent, according to FranNet, the US based franchise consultancy,” writes Fiona Simpson in Forbes.Linda Kamm is the president of Happy & Healthy, a Florida-based franchise company that has 60 franchisees in 25 states, plus Hong Kong and London. Launched 27 years ago, there are now nine product lines that include fruit bars, snacks and more. Women are the biggest consumers, Kamm says.In her experience, “In the beginning, as 2/3 men, now it is closer to 50/50,” Kamm says.Hahn March is the president and CEO of Signal Health Group, a franchise operation with six franchisees in Indiana that offer non-medical home care, light housekeeping, personal care and skilled medical care services, a doctors at home housecalls service, and hospice. She launched the business six years ago and at the time, not a lot of women were getting into franchising.At first, March says she was reticent about often being the only woman in a meeting or making a pitch.“You walk in and don’t let them walk all over you,” March says. “You have to have that confidence and know everything and they respect you.”Moving to the U.S. from her native Vietnam at 19, March says, “For me I have to work very hard because of the way I look and the way I talk.”Diversity among franchisees is increasing, according to the IFA. The 2012 report states, “30.8 percent of franchises were owned by minorities, compared to 18.8 percent of nonfranchised businesses. Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and “other” minorities had a higher rate of ownership of franchises than nonfranchised businesses in 2012.  Asians owned 11.8 percent of all franchises, compared to 6.3 percent of nonfranchised businesses. Hispanics owned 10.4 percent of all franchised businesses, compared to 7.2 percent of nonfranchised businesses. Blacks owned 8.0 percent of all franchised businesses compared to 4.7 percent of nonfranchised businesses.”For all entrepreneurs, and particularly for female and minority entrepreneurs, lending is easier to attain for a franchise than for a startup. “From a lending standpoint, franchisees are more attractive,” says Ana Simpson, director of the Veterans Business Outreach Center of the U.S. Small Business Administration.“Franchising offers the power of a track record,” Simpson says. “It’s a power system. And with franchising, you will get more favorable lending terms than for a startup. And many franchises have relationships with financial institutions.”Franchisees also have support on many levels from the franchise— for marketing, organization, hiring, structure, sales and much more.Cassandra Hughes has owned a Dream Vacations franchise for six years. “The best thing about franchising is the continual support. You have the opportunity to be creative, but have that structure as well.”According to the IFA, there are more than 733,000 franchise establishments in the U.S. that support nearly 7.6 million direct jobs, $674.3 billion of economic output for the U.S. economy and 2.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.Ed Teixeira, Chief Operating Officer of Franchise Grade and founder and former President of FranchiseKnowHow, writes in Forbes, “Based upon a report from Franchise Business Review, child services are the leading franchise sector for women franchise owners where 51 percent of franchisees are women. Travel and hospitality has an even split between male and female owners, and retail (43 percent), fitness (39 percent), and sports and recreation (36 percent) round out the five sectors with the highest percentages of female ownership.  Home care services continues to be a strong franchise category that appeals to female franchise candidates.”Some observers say women are best suited to franchising for reasons related to personality and affinity.[bctt tweet=“Some observers say women are best suited to franchising for reasons related to personality and affinity. #womenentrepreneurs” username=“takeleadwomen”]Simpson writes in Forbes, “Women generally have strong communication skills, are good networkers and take a collaborative approach to working. These are traits which not only make them excellent franchisees with the key skills to engage their target market and grow their businesses, but which also mean that women are likely to be drawn to the idea of joining an established franchise network and working as part of a team, being in business for themselves but not by themselves.”[bctt tweet=“Being in business for yourself doesn’t mean you have to be in business by yourself. #WomenFranchisers #Teamwork” username=“takeleadwomen”]“There are more than 5,000 franchise concept models in the U.S.,” says Katris, who started in franchising five years ago because she did not want to go into her family’s restaurant business.“You can find something you want to do,” Katris says. “And franchising can help you find resourcing you might not find on your own.”