With over 20 years’ experience under her belt...
To my mind franchising is neither an industry in its own right nor in fact a business
Rather it is one of the fastest and most consistently successful methods (a marketing concept) for distributing products and services, with over 560,000* people employed and a market turnover in excess of £13.7 billion* p.a. (* source: 2013 NatWest/bfa franchising survey)
It is a crazy mixture of conformity and individuality and combines the very best elements of big business and small operation. To be successful a franchisee must comply with the franchise system and yet such compliances will enable the franchisee to achieve a level of self-fulfillment
The phrase 'in business for yourself, but not by yourself' really does capture the essence of franchising
If you simply opened your own business you would be totally responsible for EVERYTHING but in a franchise the franchisor offers you experience, knowhow, proven operation methods, marketing tools, sales training, technical guidance as well as corporate identity, trademarks and the brand.
Moreover, as an independent you have no best practice to hold on to; no comparisons to make; no 'club like' environment and no-one ready and able to help - now!
A quote from the book 'Growing Pains' accurately differentiates between running your own 'independent' business and a franchise when it states that running a business is:
'about as easy as navigating uncharted waters in a leaking rowing boat with an inexperienced crew while surrounded by a school of sharks.
The crew might be glad to know that others before them have made the voyage successfully and to hear (and learn) of the lessons that other voyagers learned in the process'
The essence of franchising is that it is a licence to operate somebody else's proven business system
The magic of franchising is that it combines local knowledge, dedication, an individuals' own skill set and their ambition with the intellect, business systems, head office resources and drive of a high profile national (or international) organisation