There are over 700,000 people employed in the UK franchise industry with 37% of franchisees now being female (up 20% since 2015.) Winkworth has also seen a rise in female franchisees joining the network and can report that 31% of franchisee recruits in the last two years were women. Below we speak to some of the inspiring and hardworking women to join the Winkworth network in the last 12 months as business owners, in celebration of International Women’s Day.
“This percentage increase in women enquiring about owning their own business is colossal,” comments Operations Manager Gina Piper. “It’s really encouraging to speak to so many strong, business minded females and certainly exciting to see them become successful Winkworth franchisees in an industry that is still perceived to be heavily dominated by men.”
21% of the Winkworth network is currently owned by female franchisees, an increase of 61% since 2014, when only 13% of the network were owned by women.
Winworth’s most recent female franchisee to join the network is Lucy McIlroy, who bought the Bath office with her partner in October 2018. Lucy has worked in the property industry in and around the famous Georgian town for over 20 years. After having children, Lucy returned to work full time and at that time meant being in the office from 8:30am to 6pm, which she found very difficult with two boys under the age of four. “Unfortunately, the management I worked under at the time were not very flexible with regard to part time working and were concerned about creating a precedent for other women in my position,” comments Lucy. “I knew and respected Winkworth as a London based company and was attracted to their fresh views on estate agency. The franchise model was a very attractive way to own my own business. Working for myself means I can work in a more flexible way, so I am there for the children.”
Donna Pearson became a shareholder and franchisee of the Winkworth Canterbury office in 2014 before buying the business from her partners in its entirety just over a year ago. Donna has never personally experienced any problems being a female in the property industry. “I have always been assessed more on my knowledge and expertise and always felt supported,” she explains. She does however echo the consensus of issues faced by female business owners. “The property industry isn’t without the normal difficulties of balancing work and personal life with children as you climb up the ladder. You do have to work hard to gain respect amongst your peers and you need to know what you’re talking about.”
Nikki Kooner has owned a number of successful bars and restaurants with her husband for several years and got into the property industry in June 2016. They opened the Winkworth Northampton office in September 2018. “I gave up my career in London when I had children to focus on my family who are my number one priority,” explains Nikki. “Now as a working mother to a six-year-old daughter, it’s important for me to be successful and independent. I want her to look up at me and feel she can do it all, which is what I am striving to do. I feel really proud.”
Kylee Cates opened Winkworth Poringland in Norfolk with her partner Jamie Moore in March 2018, and being in her twenties, is one of the youngest female directors in the network. “I haven’t been part of Winkworth for that long, however every day when I drive to work and see our for-sale boards, it reminds me of how much we have achieved and how far we have come in such a short period of time,” Kylee explains. “Jamie and I have a two and half-year-old daughter and I wouldn’t be the first to admit that owning your own business and maintaining a good work-life balance is incredibly hard. I think you have to adjust to the fact you have to be prepared to make sacrifices every day, but the outcome is very rewarding.”
“I feel privileged to be in the position I’m in now,” adds Lucy McIlroy. “There are about 50 sales and lettings agencies in Bath and I would guess only 5% or 10% of those are run by women.” When asked what advice she would give to women wanting to climb the career ladder today, Lucy said “Find a company that treats women equally. Does that company have a healthy proportion of women in the role you aspire to? Often estate agents have a healthy number of women, but they’re employed in admin roles or HR and marketing.”
“I’m encouraged by the influx of female applicants and thus new franchisees that have been joining the Winkworth network over the last few years,” comments Dominic Agace, CEO. “Estate agency has historically been very male dominated, but I’m delighted that our franchise model can cater to anyone who has the drive and enthusiasm to succeed, coupled with the support from all the departments in head office.”
If you would like to know more about owning your own Winkworth office, get in touch with the new franchising team today.