Suzie McCafferty is the CEO of Platinum Wave Franchising – an international, independent, BFA-accredited franchise consultancy firm, established in 2010. She is heavily involved in all things franchise and also - a happy SmartPA client! We caught up with her to talk all things Partnership, franchise and why SmartPA is a great choice for your future...

"I’ve been in franchising for 20 years and I love it, so it would be easy to pen a one-sided love letter to it. Instead, I’m going to try and explore it objectively.

Many people dream of having their own business one day, but the reality is that you have to first have a great idea for a business and then determine how to run it profitably, followed by finding sufficient funds to launch your, as yet, unproven new venture. Of course, for the true entrepreneur this is half the appeal (and how most franchisors start out) but for the slightly more risk averse, franchising offers the opportunity to own and operate your own business with the benefit of a proven business model, recognised brand, training, support and myriad additional benefits that may include anything from bespoke software to a supportive network of franchisees sharing best practice.

In 2018, NatWest and the British Franchise Association produced their latest report on the health of the UK franchise industry. Given the painfully high failure rates for independent startups, the report makes attractive, if not essential, reading for anyone considering going into business for themselves.

Here are some of the highlights:

  •       The annual contribution of franchising to the UK economy is £17.2 billion
  •       There are 48,600 franchise units in operation
  •       The total number of people employed in franchising in the UK is 710,000
  •       93% of franchisee-owned units reported profitability

If the majority of business start-ups close their doors before reaching year 5, then 93% of franchisee-owned units reporting profitability is a staggeringly impressive statistic.

From the point of view of someone considering investing in a franchise model, here’s some great opening advice – do not invest in someone’s great idea, invest in a proven business. Franchising is all about the replication of a successful business. Now, that’s not to say you should only consider a franchise that’s been around for 20 years and has 100+ franchisees, simply that you must only invest in a franchisor who has built a viable business, created a strong brand, proven their business model and marketing systems, properly documented all the relevant systems and procedures and then provides you with comprehensive training and ongoing support - just like SmartPA’s Partnership opportunity.

So, would you make a good franchisee - are you a born entrepreneur or are you prepared to follow a strict model dictated by someone else?

We meet prospective franchisees all the time who consider themselves as natural entrepreneurs – I think we all like to think of ourselves as being entrepreneurial, but does it make you good franchisee material? Assuming you’re happy to follow a system, then there’s the question of what you hope to achieve from having your own business. You need to be very honest with yourself about your motivations if you’re going to choose the right franchise. If your goal is to make millions, then make sure you are choosing a franchise model that can provide you with that kind of earning capacity. If you want a business that allows you to choose your own hours, giving you the freedom to work around your family commitments or hobbies and interests, then similarly you need to choose a brand than can accommodate this. Both examples absolutely exist, you just need to make sure you and the franchisor are on the same page. SmartPA can offer you both in spades, with guaranteed income and flexible and remote working as standard.

So – invest in a franchise or go it alone? It all comes down to how much you value the things you’ll get with a good franchise that you don’t get on your own: training, ongoing support, an existing brand, proven business model, national marketing, being part of a network of like-minded individuals all doing the same thing you are, and the speed with which you can get to market. Are all those things worth the franchise fee? Only you can decide, but if the bfa NatWest report has it right, it sounds like a high percentage of existing franchisees would say it was the right decision for them.

If you are a SmartPA Partner or think if becoming one, I can happily tell you they are one of the brands that I certainly consider an ethical and feasible operator. We use two SmartPA’s in our business – three if you count holiday cover! Their model is proven, and they are laser focused on supporting their Partnership community. They also have a very thorough recruitment process and they understand the attributes that make a successful SmartPA Partner. However, remember than they can’t make it work for you – you need to be committed, work really hard, and follow their model!

As I said at the beginning, I’ve been in franchising for 20 years and I love it. And yes, perhaps, overall, this was a little biased, but I really do hope that franchising can play a positive role in your future like it has mine.

Seek and take good advice.

Always trust your gut.”

About the author:

With nearly 20 years of first-hand international franchising experience, Suzie is a well-known personality in the franchising world. She has been a Judge for the bfa’s Franchisor and Franchisee of the Year Awards and is the longstanding Chairperson of the Scottish Franchise Forum. Platinum Wave is also the long term joint sponsor of Scottish Franchise Week with HSBC.

Having franchised her own printer cartridge business from a single retail shop in Edinburgh to a network of over 70 franchised outlets across 6 countries from the Caribbean to the Middle East, it is fair to say Suzie’s consultancy comes with an authenticity that is hard to match. Prior to founding Platinum Wave, Suzie was the Franchise Director and Board Member of national recruitment franchise and £30m turnover franchise network Select Appointments.

Suzie is also a Non-Executive Director with two of the UK’s leading franchise brands, Right at Home UK and Premier Education Group.

Platinum Wave was named Service Provider of the Year at the 2016 Best Franchise Awards, based on direct feedback from its clients, in 2018 they won the Customer Service Award at the inaugural bfa Affiliate Awards, and this year were named Service Provider of the Year by EWIF.

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