Sherry McNeil, CEO of the Canadian Franchise Association
Before becoming the CEO of the Canadian Franchise Association, Sherry also worked with restaurants and franchised businesses all around Canada. From Pizza Hut to Dairy Queens, she has been to every corner of Canada. She started working part-time at a Petro-Canada station as a student and now, she is the authoritative voice of Canada’s franchise community, the Canadian Franchising Association (CFA).
What are your thoughts on being a female in the franchising business? Do you think women should pursue a career as a franchisee?
Women should absolutely consider pursuing a career as franchise owners.
In the past ten years, there has been a 30% increase in Canadian women-owned businesses combined with a federal government commitment to double these businesses through a $2 billion program. According to a report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), supporting women in business ownership and closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship can add up to $150 billion to Canada’s GDP by 2026.
While this is a step in the right direction, the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women in the workforce. At the beginning of the pandemic, women between 25-54 experienced more than twice as many job losses as men and have seen a slower reemployment rate by 50%.
With all that being said, and with reopening plans becoming a reality, there needs to be a collective effort to restart the economy with women entrepreneurs at the forefront.
The franchise business model is an attractive and powerful way for aspiring business owners to overcome some of the challenges of launching a new small business. Some of the benefits franchising offers to include:
- A proven business concept and existing customer awareness of an established brand;
- A tried-and-true system of operations, with initial and ongoing training from the franchisor head office;
- A stronger position when applying for business loans;
- Ongoing support from the head office team;
- An established supply chain and mass purchasing power from suppliers;
- Access to the knowledge and experience of a network of other franchisees;
Franchising is about being in business for yourself but not by yourself. Franchisees and franchisors are much stronger together than they are as individuals.
What are the most important things for aspiring female entrepreneurs to learn about starting their own franchises or small businesses?
Anyone who is interested in running their own business as part of a franchise business model needs to consider a few key things. They need to do their research or due diligence and really learn everything they can about that brand and the specific market.
It is important to find a brand that you can envision being involved with every day. A brand that suits your lifestyle, your financial goals, and your personality.
What are some of the misconceptions you’ve heard about becoming a small business franchisee? And what is do you think the most difficult thing about being a small business franchise is?
One myth is that franchise businesses are corporately owned. What’s being misunderstood is that franchised businesses are locally owned and operated by members of the community. While a franchisee has the support of a franchisor, the business is 100 percent owned and operated by the franchisee.
Approximately 1 out of every 10 people in Canada is employed in a franchised business. If the goal for the #ShopLocal effort is to help keep people employed, then Canadians need to support their local franchised business that is run by one of their neighbors, who undoubtedly needs their help.
What do you think the future holds for franchising as a business?
No business was immune from the COVID-19 pandemic, and all had to adapt. However, franchises are naturally better suited to weather economic storms because of the inherent strengths of the franchise business model. Franchises have an existing customer base, standard processes, and strong brand recognition. Due to these factors, franchising will grow.
We’re seeing the rise of Gen Z. Franchisors who can appeal to new groups like Gen Z will find success. They need to begin planting the seeds with Gen Z and that means reaching them where they are,i.e., TikTok, social cause-based activities, and rethinking concepts to integrate online/digital into brick-and-mortar locations.
If you were looking to buy into a franchise, what would be your top 3 considerations?
A major consideration is understanding the franchisee-franchisor relationship within that franchise system. Do both parties have a history of working together for mutual success? It’s important to understand, personally, what level of support you’re looking for from the franchisor.
How do you feel about the people you met from the franchise support team? Are you comfortable working with these people, especially as you navigate any challenges?
Above all else, follow your passion! There’s a franchise in almost every industry at every investment level. Do you have enough passion for this brand and its offering to act as a brand ambassador for the years to come?