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Women in franchising: the rise of female entrepreneurs

Property has always been and remains a heavily male dominated sector. Historically, the franchise industry has been the same, however as the franchise sector broadens and funding becomes more accessible, the dynamic is starting to shift, with more and more women entering the industry and starting their own businesses. Winkworth is no different.


Whilst the percentage of male franchisees dropped from 78% in 2005 to 70% in 2019, the number of female franchisees in the UK has been steadily growing for the last 25 years. 30% of the 40,000 franchise businesses in the UK are now owned by women, which is a higher percentage than the 18% of female owned businesses across other small and medium sized firms in the UK according to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

Winkworth has been actively encouraging women to join the franchise for years but since shifting the new franchising team to a female led one, the business has coincidentally seen a real increase in female applicants looking to join the network. In the last two years 12% of Winkworth applicants were female however 30% of successful new franchisees who joined the network were women. “These are really encouraging statistics,” comments Winkworth’s operations manager Gina Piper, “as although people might think 12% is still rather low, the calibre of women we speak to and meet is very high, resulting in a high conversion rate.”

Women now have more opportunities than ever to join franchising. There is more support for females with organisations such as the British Franchise Association (BFA) and Encouraging Women into Franchising (EWIF) who offer dedicated networks, training and finance opportunities specifically for women. In January this year RBS announced they had set up a fund to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start or scale up their businesses. They also stated that 60% of the fund will be allocated to female led businesses.

“In the last five years we have seen the number of female franchisees in the network increase by 54%,” comments Gina. “In 2015, 11% of the franchisees in the network were women whereas today women make up 17% of our franchisees.”

The women in the Winkworth network join for various reasons. “Some women have young families and thrive off the flexibility they can have by owning a franchise,” Lucy King, Head of talent comments. “Other women have simply hit the glass ceiling as managers or directors of large corporate estate agencies and are looking for the next step in their career.”

“Franchising offers men and women alike the opportunity to own an independent business with a lower risk than going it alone,” explains Gina. “The model is a sustainable one and coupled with the back-office support systems that Winkworth offer to all franchisees, it’s an attractive and often very prosperous route to becoming a successful and sometimes multiple, office owner.”

Winkworth is actively seeking more women to join the steadily growing network of offices throughout the UK. If you would like to know more about any of the opportunities Winkworth currently have available, get in touch with the new franchising team today.

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