Franchising  – The ‘safer’ route to self-employment.

Franchising  – The ‘safer’ route to self-employment.

Off By Ed Hanna

After years, if not decades, Serving in the Military, it can be daunting deciding what to do next and finding somewhere you can use your skills and settle into a satisfying, long term career.

Maybe you are considering setting up your own business and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, did you know there’s a ‘safer’ way of doing it? According to our latest national franchise survey, (a new one is due out in January 2024), fewer than 1% per year close due to commercial failure.

What is a franchise?
If, like many, you hear the word ‘franchise’ and think of either Star Wars or possibly McDonald’s, then you’re not alone; many successful franchisees had never heard of franchising before they bought theirs, and it hasn’t harmed their business success, so don’t worry if this is the first time you are reading about it.

Franchising is a growth industry. At last count in 2018, there were approximately 48,600 franchised units and approximately 20,000 franchisees working in the UK, many of them ex-Service personnel, just like you. So, while it may be new to you, thousands of your former colleagues, like Stephan van Niekerk (featured), are already working hard, building successful franchise businesses to support them and their families.

How does a franchise work?
A franchise is a business agreement between two parties, the franchisor and the franchisee (you). The franchisor owns the core business, possibly one they founded themselves many years ago or even a national brand you’ll have seen on the high street or a smaller one you may know of through reputation. 

To grow their business, they decided to franchise it, allowing individuals like you to use their idea, branding and reputation to build your own successful business. It’s a win-win situation: the franchisor grows their brand and you get to buy into a fully established business with a great reputation and full support.

Choosing the right franchise
As the largest and oldest franchising association in the UK, with over 300 franchisor members who between them have untold numbers of franchisees, it’s safe to say that the BFA has an unprecedented knowledge of franchising and experience tells us that choosing the right franchise is key to your success.

Franchise choices
Do you want to be out in a van, selling car parts, putting up estate agents’ signs, running sports classes etc, or be based in an office recruiting commercial drivers, running children’s tutoring classes or a domiciliary care company? This might be quite an easy decision for you – but still warrants some thought.

Taking that thought process one step further, do you want to be ‘doing’ the job yourself or do you want to employ staff to do the actual day-to-day jobs while you run the business as a ‘management franchise?’ 

Know thyself
Be honest with yourself. Are you truly a ‘people’ person, suited to face-to-face contact with the public, or are you better working with strategy and data? Are you fit enough to do a manual job, or after years of Service and possibly injury, like Stephan, would a mainly desk-based role be better for you?


BFA standards
Sadly, there are still many rogue franchise brands out there so we would strongly advise you to visit our website to see the 300-plus franchise brands that have met our strict standards for membership and pledged to abide by our code of ethics. Do huge amounts of research, read The BFA Magazine on our website, Elite Franchise, What Franchise and Business Franchise Magazine for expert advice on buying a franchise safely.


Success Story

Stephan van Niekerk joined the 3rd Battalion The Rifles in 2006. He was injured in 2009 while on duty in Afghanistan and was medically discharged in 2013. He is now a franchisee with Platinum Property Partners.

Why franchising?
The power of having the support from those who have done it before, the tried and tested model and reduced risk than starting on my own.

I found a Platinum Property Partners franchise through a friend who’d attended a franchise show. He invited me along to the franchise discovery day.

I have always been interested in property but what really sold it to me was the people involved and the transparency they demonstrated on the discovery day. We got to meet the founder and ask questions, as well as having the chance to meet existing franchise partners and look at a real-life example of the franchise. The energy was great and there was a real sense that everyone was there to support each other.

Why do Veterans make good franchisees? 
We know how to operate in a team environment, as well as understanding the importance of sharing knowledge and being reliable. We have a good sense of problem-solving and resilience when it comes to challenges. We also know how to follow instructions and have a good work ethic. As we go up the ranks, we learn how to manage teams of people and projects, as well as how to work effectively with other individuals and organisations.

What’s your advice to Veterans looking at franchising? 
As always, do proper due diligence to find the right fit for you. But transferring from a Military environment, I’ve found that franchising is a safer way to invest your money and get into the world of business, while you find your feet in civilian life. It’s been a great way to build a secure foundation for me and my family and that allows me to explore other opportunities.