Self-employment in franchising by Rik Hellewell, Managing Director and Founder of Ovenu.
It was encouraging to read the latest statistics on the trends in self-employment within the UK, which highlighted the entrepreneurial spirit of British commerce. It also raises another significant point about the viability of franchising as a means of self-employment, which has helped realise many people’s dreams of becoming their own boss.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that the level of self-employment in the UK increased by 21 per cent to 4.6m in 2015, up from 3.8m in 2008, with this level rising by 730,000 people.
It also stated that more than 4.7m workers were self-employed by the first quarter of this year, buoyed by the overall employment rate rising to a record high of 74.2 per cent.
Self-employment is certainly on the rise, as is evident in the research, and franchising is definitely a sustainable form of self-employment. A franchise offers the added benefit of ongoing support, as opposed to starting out from scratch, and while a franchisee is attached to their chosen franchise, they are free to operate their business as they see fit.
The sector, as a whole, is in a very strong position and the most recent, franchise specific research from the British Franchise Association (BFA) and Natwest complements the ONS’ findings perfectly.
It was revealed that the number of people in the UK employed as a direct result of franchising is 621,000, of which 321,000 are in full-time employment, and a record 97 per cent of franchisee-owned units reported a profit. Furthermore, the economic contribution that franchising offers to the UK economy has grown by 46 per cent over the past 10 years to £15.1 billion – up 10 per cent since the previous survey in 2013.
Failure rates, in comparison to SMEs, were also reported down and more than half the respondents claimed an annual turnover of £250,000, according to the research.
The beauty of operating a franchise is that the franchisee receives comprehensive training throughout, as well as advice from the franchisor, which is readily available and usually only a telephone call away.
At Ovenu, I am in regular contact with our scores of franchisees from across the UK and internationally – whether it is over the phone or email – and I operate an ‘open door’ policy. Prior to anyone joining our organisation, I give all prospective franchisees as much time as they require, answering their questions, getting to know them and meeting them in both a social and professional capacity.
Throughout our annual AGM weekends, we lay on a host of different activities and workshops, which are designed to provide the Ovenu franchise network with the opportunity to meet fellow franchisees, share best practice and develop new ideas they can take back with them, as well as present to them new marketing techniques, including digital and social media, and advice from professionals from different sectors.
Satisfaction rates between franchisors and franchisees are also at their highest level, according to the BFA’s research. Of those surveyed, 91 per cent said that they are ‘mainly’ or ‘definitely’ satisfied with their franchisor.
Not everyone is cut out for self-employment, that’s a fact, but franchising does offer an opportunity with an established brand and a comprehensive training package with ongoing support.
Redundancy can also lead to change and force someone’s hand into a new job if they aren’t prepared for retirement and franchising is ideal for those who have received a healthy redundancy package, but still require a steady income, or people who need to make a living and would like to enter self-employment.
There are plenty of viable opportunities in franchising, which provide an ideal route into self-employment; the industry is in a good place right now, not to mention the healthy relationship that is being enjoyed between a franchisor and its franchisees.
Rik Hellewell, Managing Director and Founder of Ovenu, talks about the 'cost effective' truth about franchising.