Women in Franchising Part 1


Women in franchising are no longer in the minority, it’s the norm. Over the next few editions, we are finding out what drives women to be in the franchise industry and what changes they are seeing.


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Shift8 General Manager,
Amy Renae

How are women paving the way for other women in franchising?

We definitely have strong leaders, and not just in franchising. It is a very open and sharing industry, even though they (franchisors)
may be from a competitive brand, they are open to sharing stories. To a degree that is what is driving or paying the way for up-and coming, or other women to cut their own career path.

When you reflect on your journey so far, what highlight stands out?
On a personal level, the support from people – everybody really – anyone we cross paths with. In the past when I was a junior consultant, the people I worked with have now moved up in the ranks and hold senior positions in franchising. It’s good to see everyone’s journey from where they start to where they finish up.

On a professional level, going back and finishing education – it’s something I didn’t do. I didn’t place much value on it as I probably should have. It’s not about the piece of paper, it is the hard work and effort that goes into attaining it and the quality things you learn along the way. It’s really assisted me to getting Shift8 to where it is now. I went back full-time over four years (Bachelor of Commerce, Majoring in Accounting) and it’s a very solid foundation to be able to understand the numbers. I encourage everybody to do the same thing. I only graduated a couple of years ago, and it’s not easy being a full-time student with people 10-15 years your junior!

Does Shift8 breed openness and mentorship for women (if, so how)?

We are always very focused on gender balance in team recruitment, we hire the best person for the team and this creates a good energy. Mentorship is a ‘watch this space’. I’m quite passionate about this and working on some things to get an official program launched for women in mentoring.

What benefits does being involved in franchising like Shift8 is, compared to say operating in a ‘conventional’ corporate job / environment?
I guess there is a lot more responsibility, that is the reality. You are responsible for other people’s livelihoods. I go over and above; I always did in any role. It is an evolutionary process at work and you never want to rest on your laurels. Keep working on it, going to education seminars and learning from other people’s journey– it’s never ending, you have to keep striving for greatness.What additions

would you like to see to the franchise industry to support women progressing into senior roles?
The biggest thing is the mentorship. Through some of our partnerships in the industry I come across a lot of young up-andcoming ladies. I can see they have the same passion, drive and enthusiasm as I did of a similar age. When I think back to when I first started my journey into franchising many years ago, I didn’t know the options available. With the Women in Franchising committee we try to create those relationships between others. And, as the chair, I want to take it to the next level.

Cooking the Books, Sales Business
Development Manager,

Kiri Hawes

How are women paving the way for other women in franchising?
Franchising has more women than most other businesses. There are a lot of women behind the scenes and support staff that people maybe don’t look at – whose names are also on paper. Often the wife is just as heavily involved in business, she does most of the work anyway! In practice they seem to be everywhere.

When you reflect on your journey so far, what highlight stands out?
The highlight for me was before I got into this role – I was an apprentice chef. The first competition I did was at state level,
as opposed to regional, and I was surrounded by men. While we might be a minority, we are actually better! We take our job very
seriously and we can surpass most of our male colleagues.

Does Cooking the Books breed openness and mentorship for women (if, so how)?
We’ve had a number of women in the business, especially in our development team. This is unusual for software companies. Instead of hiring a female developer, they have a female developer program. I’ve always worked on the mentality of, ‘the right person for the job’ and I always looked at capability. We have made it clear regardless of their background or upbringing we live in a multicultural society and value women. I come from a male dominated industry, both me and the CEO are ex-chefs and our sales staff are ex-chefs – no-one put us down for being female.

In your role within Cooking the Books, particularly in liaising with female franchisees\franchisors, what are some positive industry changes you are seeing?’

Women have been really getting the confidence to turn around and say, “I won’t stand for it (i.e. Kiri examples one story of a female advised to co-sign with a man, “to make you look more legitimate”) – it’s a massive positive change. I know I’ve personally gone into places extremely paranoid, especially C-level meetings full of major franchisors, thinking, “As a female will I be taken seriously? Will it be a whole bunch of men?” Now, the retail zone it is predominantly women in those high-level meetings – it is changing now.

What additions would you like to see to the franchise industry to support women progressing into senior roles?
I think the management of the actual franchise. There needs to be some sort of transition, learning skills to operate your own business, a step out of being employee to employer. If any women are unhappy in their current workplace, franchising is something
they should consider. Especially if they’ve been thinking of starting their own business. You have the support, there is not as much risk, and you have more backing behind you.

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Australian Skin Clinics Franchisee,
Zoe Gilliand

How are women paving the way for other women in franchising?
Women have more pressure on them in terms of family and things like that; potentially stopping them from pursuing dreams they may have. I have a very supportive husband and if he wasn’t helping me, I definitely wouldn’t be able to do it. What a franchise should offer is a work-life balance, that is a reason for a franchisee to get into it.

The whole reason I did this was, I worked in the corporate world for 19 years and, my little son got sick in intensive care. I was sitting in hospital thinking, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” At that point I sat next to his hospital bed looking at businesses for sale. I always thought franchising was a good model and this particular franchise popped up. I knew nothing, sent them a message, and they got back in an hour. That was in April, and I opened up in September!

When you reflect on your journey so far, what highlight stands out?
For me, I actually feel like I am pursuing what I want to do and I am making a difference in people’s lives, I never felt like that in a corporate job. People walk out happier than when they walk in. Even though it is a franchise, I wanted to treat staff the way I always wanted to be treated. I really love that I get to do that. It also gives me flexibility, even though it is hugely busy (Zoe has a 4yo.and 2yo.). It certainly is a lot more work than you imagine it would be; but it also gives me job satisfaction and that does not compare.

Does Australian Skin Clinics breed mentorship for women (if, so how)?
There are a lot of women in this business. I was involved in the Optus franchise, and there was a lot more men in there. Australian Skin Clinics are very supportive of women and very supportive of me trying to attain some balance with my family.

What benefits does being part of a franchise like Australian Skin Clinics offer, compared to say a ‘conventional’ corporate job?
The job satisfaction is a big one, the fact you are doing something for yourself. In a big company I always thought, “What am I doing this for? What is the actual point of this?” Here we are really making a difference to people’s lives. I had a client with a melanoma scar on his head, he’s been getting treatment and seeing the results.

What additions would you like to see to the franchise industry to support women progressing into senior roles?
In terms of owning, the really hard thing – and the main reason people don’t all rush out – is the access to finance. So helping people secure finance with banks. There are a lot of talented people out there, who would do a fantastic job, but don’t have the cash to do it.