What are franchise associations?
Similar to other industries and businesses there are numerous franchise associations that represent the interests of both franchised businesses and franchise sellers. These associations provide a variety of services to the industry, who are their members, and work to promote their interests to governments and the greater community. In the United Kingdom there are three main franchise associations representing franchised businesses: the British Franchise Association, the Approved Franchise Association, and the Quality Franchise Association. The Quality Franchise Association is a not for profit franchise association with support for franchisors at the heart of everything they do. The QFA provides benefits amasses for member franchises, free franchise advertising on top franchise directories, discounts, social media exposure to name but a very small few. There is also a fourth association based in Washington DC responsible for coordinating the global lobbying of the industry, the International Franchise Association.
These associations are responsible not only for lobbying but also engage in accreditation and certification of best practices. In many ways they also serve to help the industry self police, improve its ethics, and maintain an overall high level of conduct.
What are the benefits of franchise associations?
As stated the franchise associations exist to provide services to member franchises and franchise buyers. Some of these services, and their purposes could help you in your decision about what franchise you will choose to buy.
- Accreditation – Both the British Franchise Association, and the Approved Franchise Association offer accreditation for franchisors. This means they pre screen companies looking to become members of their organisation and scrutinise their corporate practices with respect to consumers and their franchisees. The Quality Franchise Association also has an accreditation process but unlike the other two that follow the European Code of Ethics the QFA has it’s own code of conduct called the QFA Code of Conduct. The QFA Code of Conduct is a code written by experienced UK franchising professionals including franchise lawyers, consultants & Franchisors with real business experience.
- Certification – When interacting with franchisor companies it is highly recommended you look for industry certification of the professionals you end up dealing with at that particular business. The BFA offers a QFP program, or Qualified Franchise Professional, where they certify the individuals’ skills and experience in operating a franchisor. The more certified the professionals in your franchisor, the more likely it is to be better run, thereby improving your chance of success. The Quality Franchise Association also offers a professional certification called Verified Franchising Professional ( VFP ). The VFP is purely based on an assessment of the individuals experience within franchising & is awarded to the individual. Once certified an individual can maintain their VFP certification even if the franchise they work with is not a QFA member.
- Advice and Publications – Franchise associations are a great place to look during your due diligence on franchising. The BFA has a library of publications and documents for would be franchisees. These publications detail key questions to ask, legal implications, if franchising is right for you, financing and much more. The Quality Franchise Association provides free legal guides, franchise buyers guides, telephone support from experience franchising professionals & free seminars & events for prospective franchisee’s & franchisors.
- Quality Listings – Franchises who have joined these organisations are subject to meeting certain quality standards. These listings are frequently updated, so you can check if the franchise you are planning to buy is in good standing.
What information & advice can I obtain from franchise assocations?
Considering their primary purpose are to research, inform, and represent the franchise associations have provided a huge library of advice for would be franchisees and franchisors. If you own a business and you are looking to turn it into a franchise, they have information for this too. We have read through the immense library of information provided, and created a list of the top features to look for in doing your due diligence before buying a franchise.
- Code of Ethical Franchising – Once you have determined the sector of franchise business that is of interest to you, and have chosen a short list of potential franchise sellers, check to see that they have subscribed to the code of ethical franchising. While this is not a guarantee of success in business, it does help to know what franchises a third party a third party has screened. In the UK there are currently two code of ethical franchising. The European Code of Ethics & the QFA Code of Conduct.
- Finances and Financing – Understand by working with a team of financial professionals including your accountant what you can afford to invest in a franchise business. This also means looking for a bank that understands the type of business you are about to start. The British Franchise Association has a number of major banks they accredit as specialists in understanding the unique needs of a franchise buyer in banking. The QFA also boasts an impressive network of finance companies & other partners to assist both potential franchisees & franchisors.
- Yourself – Understand what you like to do. If you do not enjoy the business or its products this is a recipe for failure.
- Market Research – An entrepreneur reading this will see Franchise UK frequently mentions market research throughout our pages of advice. This is because it is one of the most important factors to business success, and cannot be understated. If the market is not there the business will fail. It is important to double-check your franchisors market research by doing some of your own.
- Research –Check your franchisors references. If the franchisor will not provide references it is because they are probably not reputable.
- Gain Advice – Be sure to obtain professional advice. This means your accountant, lawyer, and friends who are business owners should be consulted to double check your math.
- Your Gut – Lastly and most importantly, the decision to start a business is not something to be rushed. Take your time to do the math, and if the opportunity looks good but you do not “feel the business” then investigate other opportunities.