Franchising is a form of business expansion where an established company allows a franchisee to open and operate a new branch on its behalf. In exchange for using the company’s brand name and product/service, the franchisee pays the franchisor an initial set-up fee, plus ongoing costs. The franchisee also benefits from training, support, marketing assistance and other resources from the franchisor.
Social franchising works in a similar way, except it relates specifically to social enterprises who are looking to grow. It allows charities and non-profit organisations to expand the reach of their operations in new locations through a traditional franchise model.
The main difference between traditional franchising and social franchising, however, is that the primary goal of social franchising isn’t to boost the organisation’s profits, but to maximise the positive impact it makes in society. (Like any business, of course, a social enterprise still needs to make a profit in order to survive.)
This positive impact on society could be anything from improving the wellbeing of the local community to tackling environmental concerns. Here at The Franchise Company, we’ve worked with social enterprises from all different sectors including mental health, education and children’s services. Over the last three decades, we’ve helped numerous social organisations franchise successfully.
Social franchising is a relatively new concept. It wasn’t until the mid ‘90s when social enterprises began to adopt a franchising model as a method of expansion. Because of the unique and complex nature of the issues that social enterprises serve to fix, there can be a wide variety of social franchising models. Some franchisors may want to maintain a high level of control over their franchisees and keep the funding centralised, while others may want to give their franchisees more independence and encourage innovation.
Whatever the model may look like, a social franchise will want to ensure that their overall mission is being fully realised by their franchisees.
Maximising your social impact. By expanding your organisation into new territories and sharing knowledge, information and practices with franchisees, you’re able to benefit more communities, improve more lives and achieve your overall objective as a social enterprise.
Achieving strong and financially-stable growth. Although increasing profits isn’t the main reason behind social franchising, doing so can help your organisation expand effectively while attaining financial sustainability and longevity.
Easier to raise funds. Being part of a strong social franchise network increases your chances of attracting investors/donors and securing funding for future expansion or endeavours.
Quicker and more affordable way of expanding without compromising your brand. If you were to expand into new locations without using a franchise model, the cost will not only be much higher than, but you’ll be growing your organisation in a way that creates distance from the frontline.
Less risk. Studies show that franchises have higher rates of success than start-ups, primarily because they offer the franchisee a tried-and-tested blueprint, along with the added bonus of training, support, marketing, brand recognition and other resources.
Best of both worlds. Social franchising allows your enterprise to reap the benefits of growth (economies of scale, more bargaining power) while still enjoying the perks of being an independent organisation (nimble operations, effective communication).
The first step of our process is assessing whether social franchising is a suitable option for your organisation - not just in the short term, but in the long term, too. There are many factors that we take into consideration based on our expertise, experience and up-to-date industry knowledge. If social franchising doesn’t make sense for your enterprise, then we won’t recommend it. At The Franchise Company, we always give honest and impartial advice.
If we believe that social franchising will help your organisation grow in a successful and sustainable way, then our next step is to fully understand your brand. We’ll look into everything from your finances and operations to marketing and competition, giving us a full and clear picture of how your organisation works.
This information then allows us to tailor a bespoke franchise model for your organisation. The model will be designed to maximise the impact of your organisation’s mission and achieving long-term financial sustainability while maintaining the integrity of your brand values.
Once we’ve created a personalised franchise model for your organisation, we then produce the correct paperwork. This ensures that all parties involved are on the same page, allowing the franchisor, franchisees and investors to understand their individual roles, responsibilities and objectives. The documentation includes an operations manual, a franchise agreement, a franchise fee structure, a training programme and a territory analysis.
We’ll also assist you with producing marketing and recruitment materials to promote your franchise and attract franchisees. Finding the right franchisees is crucial to the success of social franchising. You need to find people who possess the necessary qualities, desire and trustworthiness while sharing your passion for your organisation and its mission.
Once our assessment, planning, documentation and recruiting phases are complete, it’s time to pilot your social franchise. We recommend starting out with a small number of franchisees (between 1 and 3) to help establish a strong foundation of franchises. We’ll support you through the entire process and even create a feedback loop between you and your franchisees to improve operations, strengthen relationships and identify and resolve any issues.
If your pilot is successful, we can help you continue to grow your network of social franchises. From training resources and franchisee recruitment support to marketing assistance and coaching/mentoring, we can provide you with the necessary guidance and support to expand even further.
Ireland is a fantastic place to franchise your social enterprise. In addition to boasting a rich history and vibrant culture, Ireland is home to a thriving franchising sector that has gone from strength-to-strength in recent years. According to the Irish Franchise Association, the franchising industry in Ireland is worth approximately €2.5 billion and employs 43,000 people in full-time jobs, with many more in part-time work.
While many other industries have struggled over the last decade-and-a-half, Ireland’s franchising sector has enjoyed a continual increase in job creation figures every year since 2006 and is currently growing at a rate of 12% per year.
Despite continued uncertainty over how Brexit will play out, the future looks bright for Ireland’s franchising sector. With Ireland’s GDP expected to grow by 3.1% in 2020 (which follows a 5.6% increase in 2019), this bodes well for its 2,500-plus franchisees who currently operate on its shores.
Whatever the nature of your social enterprise, Ireland welcomes franchises from all different industries and countries with open arms. British organisations currently dominate the market, accounting for more than a third of the industry. Franchises from further afield -- including the USA, Australia and the Far East -- have also enjoyed success in Ireland in recent years. Homegrown franchises, meanwhile, make up roughly one-fifth of the market.
As a social enterprise looking to franchise, you’ll find a deep pool of suitable franchisees to choose from in Ireland. A recent survey by a leading accountancy firm found that 40% of the population expressed a desire to work for themselves. Many of these people are sales and marketing professionals who possess the necessary skills and qualities that franchisors are looking for.
However, despite its many positive aspects, Ireland isn’t without its problems. There are currently 760,000 people living below the poverty line, which equates to 15.7% of the population. There are also urgent concerns regarding housing and healthcare. As a result, there’s a real opportunity for social organisations to make a positive, life-changing impact in Ireland.
"The franchising industry in Ireland is worth approximately €2.5 billion and employs 43,000 people"
We’re currently working with Junior Einsteins Science Club, a social enterprise based in Dublin that provides exciting, engaging and educational STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programmes to children. Through a wide range of programmes, parties, camps and shows delivered in a safe, structured and stimulating environment, Junior Einsteins Science Club’s aim is to nurture children’s natural curiosity in science while developing their skills and confidence.
Since their launch in 2014, Junior Einsteins have engaged with more than 500,000 children across Ireland and beyond. This level of impact and success is why they were nominated for Children’s Franchise of the Year at the 2019 Irish Franchise Association Awards and why founder Tracey-Jane Cassidy won the First Prize International VOOM 2018 Richard Branson Virgin Media Business Award.
With our help, Junior Einsteins Science Club are currently looking to expand their reach through social franchising and enrich the lives of many more children through their science-based programmes.
Since launching in 1991, The Franchise Company has helped over 200 businesses and organisations from a wide range of sectors franchise successfully.
As one of the UK’s leading voices on social franchising, our founder Julie Waites is one of the UK’s leading voices on social franchising and has been asked to become a trustee with the Social Enterprise Academy, an international social franchise network. Julie is passionate about helping social enterprises expand their operations and improve their positive impact in society.
With extensive experience in both social franchising and international franchising, we’re uniquely equipped to help your organisation expand into Ireland. It may be a close neighbour of Britain, but Ireland has its own franchising regulations -- not to mention social, cultural and economic differences -- so it’s important that you seek advice from the experts.
As BFA-accredited franchise consultants, we’re here to help you successfully launch and operate a social franchise while giving you honest, straightforward and trustworthy advice every step of the way.
If you have a social enterprise and want to set up a franchise in Ireland, contact one of The Franchise Company’s trusted advisors today.
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Accredited by The British Franchise Association, with over 30 years of experience in Franchising