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Sep, 15 2009

Women in retail franchising

The Indian retail industry is the largest among all the industries and the industry has undergone enormous growth in the past one decade. Retail in India has evolved rapidly because of ever increasing consumer spendings and with the stepping up of global

The Indian retail industry is the largest among all the industries and the industry has undergone enormous growth in the past one decade. Retail in India has evolved rapidly because of ever increasing consumer spendings and with the stepping up of global players investing in this sector.

Observing the latest retail trends, it is ascertained that most of the brands to the highest degree are opting for franchising as a mode of expansion. The increased trend of retail franchising has sprung a rise in women managers and entrepreneurs in corporate sector. Women are becoming more and more visible in domestic and international spheres of retail. Indian retail is being looked upon as a catalyst for boundless opportunities for women. The sectors which throw opportunities for women franchising in retail include: jewellery, bags, apparel, home décor and cosmetics to name a few.

Scope for women

Franchising is the order of the day. The franchise industry is growing at 40 per cent annually in India. Apart from being a great mode of expansion, it has also generated enormous business opportunities for women. Talking about the growth of women in franchising, Dipali Goenka, Director, Welspun Retail Ltd (WRL) said, “At WRL, it’s our continuous endeavour to create various opportunities for women pursuing their entrepreneurial spirit. Today, women are breaking free of their shackles and are striding  to achieve their independence. More women have the desire to become self-employed, and franchising opportunities at WRL provide this benefit with lower risk and low start-up capital than most established business ventures. Franchising option provides higher flexibility for women entrepreneurs, thus allowing them time to manage the business within their own lifestyles”. Combined with the eagerness and desire of women to be independent, franchising holds a great fortune for many women. Women now have become more career focused with a desire to flourish on all fronts.  In the words of Saurab Nanda, Executive Director, Nature’s Essence, “Franchising is definitely a boon to all, as it helps in rapid expansion as well as risk sharing. The opportunity and risk is well balanced between the producer and the retail investor”.

Women are now more educated than ever before with a great deal of corporate experience. More and more women are getting to know the benefits of owning a franchise business. According to Pawan Gadia, Vice President, Ferns ‘N’ Petals, “Today, women have really taken over in so many professions and have proved their worth. So far as the franchising business is concerned, it is very favourable for a woman to take up the franchise business of a renowned and well established brand, as the company has the complete support system to develop franchise structure of their brand. So, a woman gets a protected circle around her business where she can grow with the brand in true sense”.

Men Vs women

The role of women in economic development is inimitable. More than ever, men and women, both have been working together, swapping ideas and sharing thoughts. So the question lies in who is better? Who understands things better? Answering the question Goenka said, “Women are very sensitive to verbal and non-verbal cues in conversations, so they tend to have a clearer picture of how customers feel. Since doing up a house is considered to be a woman’s prerogative, they are much more likely to connect to the consumers requirements. Similarly, keeping employees happy and productive is one of the top tasks of a franchise owner. Women are good at gauging employees' satisfaction with their jobs, and their excellent communication skills can win over employees who are unhappy”. Adding to, Govind Raj, Vice President, Retail and Marketing, Tanishq says,  “We have had very good experience with the women who run our stores and have found them to be extremely capable of running stores, in some case even better than the men!”

Behind every successful woman there are challenges which they face in highly competitive business environment. According to Sahil Malik, MD, Da Milano, “Since we are into a product which is entirely women oriented and they understand fashion, so I feel women may understand the product better”. All businesses have challenges but women, because of their gender have additional challenges, that their male colleagues are less likely to encounter. Moreover, they need to balance between their personal and professional life. In the words of Gadia, “Yes, of course, a woman is a homemaker and has a close relation with flowers. So a woman understands flowers business better than men as there are always emotions involved with the flowers they sell.”

Franchisor’s support

As a franchisee it is important to know what kind of training and support will be provided by the franchisor. With regard to franchisor’s support,  Govind Raj said, “We provide complete assistance in training of staff, designing of stores, project management and establishment of stores. Thereafter, support in running and growing sales of store is also given to the franchisee”. Almost all franchisors provide support to their franchisees in terms of training for all business operations in order to put the best foot forward in ensuring regular growth in business. According to Akhil Duggar, CEO Marketing, Madame, who also support women franchises, “For us, there is no policy difference between the company stores or the franchised outlets except the financial part. We hold our SMART (Self Management and Retail Training) Programme on quarterly basis, where our existing store associates (especially the sales consultants) and future associates become a part of.” Adding to it, Goenka said, “We do offer financial support to the franchisees in terms of the merchandise that they sell at the stores. We also support them by giving them advertising and marketing support at our cost, which goes a long way in establishing the business”. This is one of the most crucial things which you should consider while looking for a franchisee. Training is of utmost importance if you want to establish credibility and regular growth in business.

Word of advice

Franchising for women is a wonderful option, and it is important to keep an open mind to succeed in this business. In the words of Duggar, “I advise the women entrepreneurs to take advantage of training programmes, newsletters, mentoring, trade fairs and exhibitions for entrepreneurial development. And the foremost thing is to have the grit to venture into unknown territory, adapt and grow.” Adding to it Gadia says, “Plan and think of the time available to you for doing any franchise venture and budget your finances; there will be a lot of hard work and sacrifice involved, but if focused well the benefits are long term to reap”. Successful women entrepreneurs are those who act on right opportunities and check out all opportunities before committing themselves.

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