Why Franchising is Attracting More Female Owners

By Diana Mead

Women are owning more franchises today than ever before and the growth of female ownership is only accelerating.

Between 2011 and 2017, female franchise ownership jumped by 83 percent, while male ownership only increased 13 percent, according to FranNet.

While women hold only 20 percent of board seats at Fortune 500 companies and only 5 percent of S&P 500 companies have a female CEO, women now own or co-own 41 percent of all franchises.

So why are women finding more success in franchising than in corporate America?

“In my experience, I have found that women, who have made good money and are highly educated, are reaching a place where they’d rather take control of their own destiny rather than letting someone else be in charge of it,” said Mike Hall, president and owner of FranNet Carolina. “For me, I’ve seen about a 25 to 30 percent increase in women owners during the past few years. I would expect that to go up in the future.”

In addition to taking their careers into their own hands, other women see franchising as a family-friendly business that allows them more flexibility to balance their home and work lives. Shelly Sun, chair of the International Franchising Association and founder and CEO of franchisor Brightstar Group Holdings, which provides home and healthcare staffing services, told Entrepreneur, “They felt they were losing out on opportunities at work because they were trying to care for parents and children. Not that they weren’t willing to work, but they couldn’t do a straight 9-to-5,” she says. “It was very difficult to not face a significant glass ceiling if you weren’t willing to put your family to the side.”

Women are also drawn to franchising by bad experiences in the general workforce, or sexism as a consumer. Robin Manier bought an Honest-1 Auto Care, a franchise billed as a “female-friendly” auto care business after sexist service during an oil change.

Female representation is still unbalanced across different franchise industries, the five sectors with the lowest female representation being automotive, home services, business services, cleaning and maintenance. Even at lower rates of ownership, women are still having an impact in these industries.

Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of O2E Brands, the banner company for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and other home service franchises said, “We have 247 franchises in our system, across four brands. The number of women franchise partners? 18. This imbalance is typical for people looking for careers in what are sometimes called “dirty” service industries, like the ones we provide. But that doesn’t mean men are more likely to be successful in our system — far from it.

“Our female-lead franchises are among the topperformers. In fact, they are disproportionately more successful than the men. Part of their strength is that they can relate to our customers — who are primarily women — in a different way than our male franchise partners.”

Women, on average, do have more difficulty securing franchise funding than men. As a recent Entrepreneur article detailing the rise of female franchise ownership found the average SBA loan given to a female franchisee acting as the sole owner in 2017 was $568,475, compared to the $729,093 typically granted to male franchisees. The article points to a chicken and egg question: “Are small loans causing women to open low-capital franchises, or do women gravitate toward such franchises because they know it’s easier for them to get smaller loans?”

The good news is, female funding is increasing at a higher rate than male funding, indicating that the women are catching up. Between 2013 and 2017, the average SBA loan granted to female franchisees has increased 22.5 percent compared to a 5.7 percent increase for male franchisees.

As female ownership continues to grow, more and more franchisors are searching for qualified female franchise owners for their systems. Some franchisors are even getting creative with their outreach. For Women’s History Month, 7-Eleven is holding their second annual franchise giveaway. The winning woman will be able to choose any of the company’s corporate-operated 7-Eleven convenience stores franchise fee-free.

As a women-owned business, OnePoint Franchise Accounting applauds the growing base of female franchise owners and the positive impacts these shifting demographics are bringing to the entire industry.