I’ve been in the franchise industry for several years, but I knew I had found a home when I attended my first World Expo with United Franchise Group (UFG) in 2021. This event, held once every three years, brings all UFG brands together in one place for networking and education. The camaraderie and sense of purpose that permeated the event was contagious, and it was evident that franchising was not just a business venture but a community of like-minded individuals working together to achieve greatness.
Most of all, I loved seeing how many franchisees were women. Our numbers grow every year as we discover the power of franchising to help build the professional and personal lives we’ve always dreamed of while making a difference in other lives too. It’s why UFG created Women in Franchising National Appreciation Day, an annual celebration of all women working in the franchise industry, from owners to employees and others behind the scenes.
Celebrating Women in Franchising
Recognizing women in franchising is essential for developing women in the industry – and building the industry itself. By spotlighting the incredible achievements and positive impact women bring to the franchise industry, we inspire others to express their entrepreneurial spirit through franchising.
We recognize that success in franchising is not about gender but finding the right fit for our business. Yet I see women bringing a more empathetic and influential leadership style to the industry, resulting in transformative changes to how businesses are run. One of the most notable traits is genuine care and focus on the end customer, emphasizing excellent customer service, responsiveness to feedback and a deep understanding of their customers’ needs. This approach increases customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth referrals, fostering strong and enduring relationships with their clientele.
The customer-centric approach is beneficial in industries that are typically male-dominated. One of our brands, the sign and graphics franchise Signarama, is in an industry mostly made up of men. However, we have a lot of strong women within our franchise system who are excellent owners and spokespersons for the industry as well as the brand – like Wendy Graves, an owner in Louisville, Kentucky, who started a group called Women in Signs Etc. and regularly speaks at International Sign Association events to spread more awareness about the women in the industry.
These are the things I want people to think about when they hear about Women in Franchising National Appreciation Day. I’m excited at the chance to celebrate the significant contributions of women in the franchise industry – their achievements, hard work, entrepreneurial spirit and positive impact on businesses and communities.
There’s a lot to celebrate this year. According to Guidant Financial, women now own 29 percent of U.S. franchises, an increase of 25 percent over last year. I see four reasons for this increase:
- Women have more of a “we can do that too” mindset now. We transitioned from home to the workforce and are taking the next step to run and own businesses.
- Women are earning more money and becoming primary household breadwinners, giving them greater ability to afford and own a franchise.
- They’re attracted to the flexibility and work-life balance that franchising affords. It’s been a rewarding journey for one of our Venture X franchisees, Charissa Parsons in Ashburn, Virginia, whose success has earned her a place in our Circle of Excellence. Charissa told me she loves this business because she gets to do what she loves and homeschool her children.
- Finally, I think women appreciate having access to the supportive network of fellow franchisees and industry professionals. Building connections within this community and the mentorship these women owners provide others outside the community breeds more entrepreneurship and motivates more women to become franchise owners.
Women to Watch
Women aren’t just entering the industry but are leading it. Here are just three of the many exceptional women who contribute significantly to the brands of UFG and the industry as a whole:
- Paula Mercer: From starting as our front desk receptionist to her current position as Vice President of Operations for our coworking brands, Paula’s journey has been remarkable. Her dedication and support for franchisees go above and beyond; she is a true mentor in our office. Paula’s invaluable contributions have earned her a well-deserved place in UFG’s Hall of Fame.
- Jessica Fialkovich: A franchisee turned corporate employee, Jessica now owns the largest Transworld Business Advisors franchises in Colorado and Dallas, Texas. Her expertise led her to create Exit Factor, which helps business owners optimize value for sale. Her sharpness and commitment to excellence are impressive; she is a fantastic franchisee and an invaluable asset to our corporate team.
- Michelle Longueira: Having owned an independent promotional products business, Michelle brings unique expertise to her position as Vice President of Operations for our promotional products and branded apparel company, Fully Promoted. Michelle’s dedication and leadership shine as she manages a large team, demonstrating professionalism and ease in her role. She pours her heart into supporting franchise owners and the brand.
We look forward to celebrating Women in Franchising National Appreciation Day with the remarkable group of talented women who are the backbone of our organization and the driving force behind our franchisees’ success. This includes: Rosemary Canty – Brand Leader; Debra Chamblin – VP of Royalties; Meghan Fletcher – Director of Compliance; Kaitlyn Mills – Director of Human Resources; Mariana Pasol, Director of Operations; Hailey Whitfield – Corporate Controller; Donna Wichman, VP of Operations; Carrie Dresner, Crystal Welch, Colleen Brace, and Susana Hands – Regional Vice Presidents.
Join us in celebrating all women working in the franchise industry on October 14th using the hashtag #womeninfranchising as we acknowledge the incredible achievements of women franchise owners and their valuable contributions to our business community.
Taylor Gregory is Director of Marketing at United Franchise Group (UFG), the global leader for entrepreneurs. She joined UFG as a Franchise Development Representative, where she learned the fundamentals of the franchise industry. Gregory has also served as Director of Franchise Development for all UFG-affiliated brands.
Rate of Woman-Owned Franchises: Guidant Financial 2023 Small Business Trends
Growth in businesses owned by women of color: Guidant Financial Women in Business