Our franchise case study expert: Paul Stafford
I am Paul Stafford, the British Franchise Association’s PR manager – giving me ample opportunity to indulge in two of my biggest passions: writing and business.
Of course, PR can be somewhat overbearing, to put it mildly; but I’m not here to blindly proclaim that franchising is the best solution for everyone. It’s my job to help people better understand what good franchising is, how it works and whether it might be right for them, be they a business owner looking to expand or someone looking into the (sometimes scary) world of self-employment.
Like many people, I used to be blissfully unaware of who and what was behind the businesses we all know and use. But I’ve long since worn out my friends’ patience with games of “spot the franchise” ruining an otherwise pleasant trip to town. So how did I get here?
A background in various SMEs – ranging from managing a Michelin Guide restaurant to being responsible for the comms and operations of a private speech therapy practice – led me to the franchise sector in 2012.
I took to franchising immediately: I get to work closely with businesses of all sizes and sectors, from international giants to “kitchen table” startups and everything in between. It’s fast-paced, varied and incredibly rewarding getting to know so many different companies and the people that make them what they are. I very much enjoy helping them position their brands to stand out for their achievements.
Because the British Franchise Association (bfa) is the standard-bearer for good franchising practice, I’m fortunate to be able to learn from the best professionals in the business. I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge which has served me well, and is particularly well-suited to the way that franchising as a sector works; one of my favourite things about franchising is that it’s an unbelievably friendly and close-knit community of people who openly discuss their experience and expertise with each other.
Imagine the best networking event you ever went to, one where you came away with an idea, contact or strategy that helped your business. Now picture every person at that event being someone that can help your business development, that has faced the same challenges as you and overcome them, that will freely share their ideas and knowhow in return for yours – all regardless of your business sector, size or stage of development, and without an agenda of their own. The franchising community is like no other I know of.
I’ve also been in the extremely privileged position of observing the judging presentations of finalists in the Franchisor and Franchisee of the Year awards for the last three years, hearing first-hand about some incredible businesses and people. It’s inspirational and hugely informative, and has helped me gain an in-depth understanding of what it means to be an exceptional franchisee and franchisor.
That’s been crucial to my work, which sees me regularly write advisory articles, stories and features for a wide variety of media, from national newspapers to niche trade titles and the franchise press. I’ve spoken on national broadcasts about franchising in a self-employment context, and even been invited back. And I’m also something of a social media fanatic, managing the bfa’s online channels and digital content.
I’m proud to work in a vibrant, dynamic sector of the UK’s business landscape. Hopefully the insights on these pages will help explain why. And if you ever fancy a game of ‘spot the franchise’, then just let me know.