Franchises can be a great idea for budding entrepreneurs who want to break free from corporate chains but don't want the risk of a start-up. That's the message that Miriam Brewer of the International Franchise Association wants to send women and minorities. As the new head of the group's diversity initiative, she's in charge of spreading the gospel of franchising and figuring out ways to make owning a franchise possible for a wide range of people.
"There are a lot of people who are maybe interested in franchising," says Brewer, who was the associate director for diversity and outreach at the Alzheimer's Association. "But they don't have enough information to make an informed decision." The group estimates that there are more than 760,000 franchise establishments in the country but doesn't have firm numbers on how many are minority owned. One of Brewer's first jobs will be to pull together that information.
She also wants the association to act as a portal matching wannabe small-business owners with franchise operators and lenders. And she wants to add coaching to hold franchise owners' hands through the problems they might confront during their first time running a business. Learning about franchising can be a real "eye-opener" to a lot of people considering the process, she says. They may have thought about the benefits of franchising but not about whether they "can afford to miss one or two paychecks."
Brewer says that so far franchise companies have been receptive to her efforts. "We make a business case for diversity," she says. The growing numbers of minorities in the United States haven't escaped many companies' notice. They realize that if they don't include minorities in their growth plans, they will miss out on finding talented employees and new customers.