IFA awards shine a light on franchise successes

The gala event on April 26th will celebrate the drive and collaborative spirit of franchisors and franchisees in Ireland

Irish Franchise Association 2023 award winners. Last years events was held in the lush surroundings of Dunboyne Castle. Picture: Coalesce

As a nation, we have long been known for our entrepreneurial spirit and hardworking ethos.

But the difficulty in gauging the economic climate of the future can cause many to hesitate before taking a leap of faith and establishing a new business.

This is where the franchise model comes into its own, as, according to the Irish Franchise Association, franchising “can significantly reduce the risk of failure for franchisees against any standalone start-up enterprise”.

The franchisor – or originator of the original business model – will have made all the costly mistakes along the way,so franchisee partners can benefit from not repeating those same mistakes. They will also have developed and documented the methodologies, procedures and policies in an operations manual which is provided on loan to the franchisee partners during the term of the agreement.

Before launching their new venture, the franchisee will undertake a comprehensive training programme, and, as the franchisor will have made significant investment in developing, establishing and promoting the brand, the franchisee will benefit from not having to absorb significant marketing costs, while also being part of a systemised administrative system.

Barry Sisk, Chairperson, Irish Franchise Association

These are some of the many benefits which have enticed thousands of Irish business people to get involved with a franchise operation – in fact, the Irish franchise industry has created almost 4,100 operating franchise units and over 42,920 full-time equivalent franchise jobs.

To highlight this and the achievements of the many hard-working entrepreneurs, a glittering event will take place on Friday, April 26 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Blanchardstown. According to Barry Sisk, chairperson, The annual Irish Franchise Association Gala Evening and Awards is the largest event for the franchising community in Ireland and its aim is “to recognise all that is great about franchising and the people who make it a success”.

Winners will be identified through an established independent adjudication panel, while the event as a whole will provide both entrants and attendees with an excellent networking opportunity, which enables them to be recognised among their peers for excellence in the franchising sector.

Caroline Wallace, vice chairperson of the Irish Franchise Association (IFA), which was established in 1983 and is one of the longest-established trade associations in the country, says that the event aims to shine a spotlight on the many success stories within the sector.

“The new category of awards introduced last year have proven very popular indeed,” she said. “These categories serve to shine a light, not only on franchisors and franchisees, but also the phenomenal people they employ: women and men working on the ground in franchises all over Ireland.

“I think it’s very fair to say that our businesses are only as good as the people working in them, so again this year we’d really like to highlight those individuals.”

As the industry continues to go from strength to strength, Wallace says that it is attracting an increasing number of female entrepreneurs.

“I am a huge advocate of women in business and we have been busy over the past two years working on a ‘Women in Franchising’ initiative within the association and I am delighted to say it is now an established part of our annual events calendar,” she said. “We are encouraging women in franchising in Ireland to use the association as a platform to build relationships with other ladies in the industry and to see the Irish Franchise Association as a welcome place where women can seek support and advice and share learnings and experiences with their peers.”

According to David Killeen, chief executive of the IFA, which is the only self-regulatory body within the sector, aside from having access to the necessary capital, the ideal characteristics of a franchisee include a passion for running their own business, an understanding of the franchisor/franchisee relationship, and an ability to take direction from the franchisor and be happy to work within the framework of the agreement.

“Buying into an established and proven franchise model can provide the ideal platform for someone who is seriously considering starting up in business or transitioning from a corporate life and following their dreams of running their own business ‘for themselves but not by themselves’,” he said.

Once a potential franchisee has carried out a thorough due diligence and satisfied themselves that they are right for franchising and that the model is right for their background, they can further explore with the franchisor what type of franchise opportunities are available - a Single Unit, Area Development, Regional Franchise or Master Franchise.

“Franchising is not just restricted to food or food service, although that sector accounts for 40 per cent plus of the active franchise systems operating here in Ireland,” said Killeen.

“There are a vast array of excellent franchise opportunities available across multiple sectors.”

Franchisees can expect to receive a number of supports, including full initial training, but the IFA boss says that both the franchisee and franchisor need to be fully aware of all aspects of the contract they are undertaking.

“It is important for both parties to clearly understand when signing a franchise agreement that it is a legal contract, binding both parties to the terms as set out in the clauses of the agreement and for the duration of the contract signed, be that three years, five years, ten years or more,” he said.

“It is a legal contract and in the case of a legal dispute ‘the contract is the contract’ and any legal judgements will be based on the terms, irrespective of personal understanding, misinterpretations or misunderstandings that one of the parties might have.

“That is why it is critical for both parties, especially the franchisee, to clearly understand the meaning and implications of each clause in the franchise agreement before signing it.”

“Our remit and mission is to protect, develop and promote ethical business format franchising across Ireland.

As an Association we are genuinely privileged to represent the franchise community and the exceptional franchisor and franchisee entrepreneurs that make up this very special community.” added Barry Sisk, chairperson of the IFA.

For the full list of this year’s finalists please visit www.irishfranchiseassociation.com/awards