By Yvette C. Hammett
Tampa Tribune, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Franchising can be a great way to explore female business ownership. For women who want to be their own boss but don’t want to start out from scratch, franchise ownership can be a terrific option. According to research conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers and the International Franchise Association, about 25 percent of franchise ownership nationwide is currently in female hands!
A Tampa woman whose career began in the corporate world is now leading other women into franchise ownership through a franchise of her own.
Patricia Deering bought the Tampa Bay territory for FranNet LLC in 2008, learning how to partner those seeking franchise opportunities with companies selling them.
She has found in recent years that more women are seeking their own businesses and franchises are a way to reach that goal without starting from scratch.
About 30 percent of Deering’s clients are women and that percentage is growing, she said. Deering matches about 20 people each year with franchise opportunities.
About 25 percent of franchise ownership nationwide is in female hands, according to research conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers and the International Franchise Association.
As that percentage grows, franchisors are increasingly directing their attention to female entrepreneurs.
“We work with any individual seeking a franchise opportunity and as a consultant, I help them decide what makes sense for them,” Deering said. “It’s not just for women, but more women are looking at business ownership.”
At no cost to the client seeking to buy a franchise, Deering, through FranNet, works with them on a profile that includes their skills, then offers up a variety of franchise opportunities, from food services to handyman, education, electronic repair and tutoring.
“We try to match up based on their skill set and what they are trying to accomplish,” Deering said.
A company called FranchiseHelp.com conducted an informal poll in 2015 to find out which franchises are the focus for ambitious women looking to start their own businesses.
Naturals 2 Go — healthy snacking machines — taps into three long-running trends: healthy snacking, convenience and automated businesses. These machines are often placed at gyms, corporate offices, yoga studios and health-conscious schools.
Kumon Math & Reading Centers also scored high marks. The supplemental math and reading program requires a physical location and a lease for at least five years.
It’s a steady 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. career, unlike many franchises, which allow for more flexibility in schedule.
Cleanpro Carpet Cleaning, for example, allows a flexible part-time or full-time schedule, something many franchise owners seek. It also uses citrus-based eco-friendly products, which appeal to many, according to the FranchiseHelp.com survey.
Bark Busters, a home training franchise, works well for women who have a passion for animals. Franchise owners learn the curriculum and take their show on the road.
Tia Buchanan of Largo searched a bit before zeroing in on Young Rembrandts, a franchise that teaches children how to draw.
For 171/2 years, since the time she walked out of Florida State University with her chemical engineering degree, Buchanan worked for a laser optics company.
She planned to finish her career there, too, where she was involved, among other things, with a program that created crystals for solid-state lasers used by military helicopter pilots to detect rockets coming toward them.
Then, in 2014, her company shut down the local plant and gave employees 60 days’ notice.
“I didn’t really want to get another job in the corporate world,” Buchanan said. “I felt I could do something on my own and that’s when I learned about franchising.”
Buchanan worked with Deering and completed an assessment that determined her style of management.
She tried out several different franchises before discovering Young Rembrandts.
“I learned as much as I could from other franchise owners, bad and good, about the business and the obstacles they’ve experienced. I really liked the support staff and the team.”
For the past year, she’s been teaching drawing to children ages 3-12 at schools, recreation centers, community centers and preschools.
“I’m very happy with my decision and FranNet was awesome. Pat really helped a lot,” both with choosing a franchise and setting up financing.
Denise Jordan of Tampa was ready to exit the corporate world when she decided to look into franchising.
“Pat looked at my skills, personal goals, business objective and my financial goals. She did an assessment and came back with suggestions.”
Jordan ended up buying a franchise for LifeSpring Home Care of Tampa, a home-health agency that provides registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, medical social workers and therapists.
“There is a lot of due diligence, so you need to limit yourself to looking at maybe three franchises,” Jordan said. “You need to determine what they have to offer and how it works. Most put you through a series of phone calls, meetings, webinars and seminars to familiarize you with their product.”
She wanted something in the service realm, not retail.
Jordan bought the LifeSpring franchise with a combination of personal funds and a loan from the Small Business Administration.
“I have seven staff covering primarily Hillsborough County, but I’m licensed in Polk, Manatee and Highlands County,” Jordan said.
“I’m loving my decision.”
Deering said franchises typically begin at $50,000 and go up from there. “Usually, they need to have 25-30 percent of their own money and they need to be able to support themselves while they are growing the business. Part of our service is to connect them with lending institutions.”
Entrepreneurs also need a business plan, a service FranNet doesn’t offer, but will direct those who need it to groups like the Small Business Development Center for help.
“We’re very focused on meeting personally with each client,” Deering said.
What she has found, she said, is that most people looking to buy a franchise are people exiting the corporate world, retiring or being downsized. “More women are in that mid- to upper-management group now, so they have that background.”
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