Statement from Claire Robinson, CEO of the Approved Franchise Association

You may have read the recent statement by Pip Wilkins, CEO of the British Franchise Association, which mentions a copycat franchise association that has just been established in the UK.

Firstly, for the purpose of eliminating any confusion, I am confident that the association she was referring to is not the AFA! Unlike the association she refers to, the AFA was established six years ago, with the intention of providing more affordable accreditation and guidance to fledgeling and medium franchisors.

In those six years, four of which I have personally been involved with the association, we have worked tirelessly to establish ourselves as a trustworthy, not-for-profit organisation that provides immense value to the franchising sector. Our membership has increased dramatically, as more and more business owners turn to us to help them establish credibility and grow their organisations through franchising. The AFA provides a genuinely worthwhile service to our members, which aims to uphold the BFA’s excellent standards and desire to protect and nurture the franchising sector.

In the time I have been CEO of the AFA, we have evolved into a strong association that is providing more and more value to its members as time goes on, with the introduction of regional meetings, franchise exhibitions, advertising discounts and regular communication with our members. Our plans for the future are huge and include our first Annual Conference, as well as the introduction of our brand new Franchise Awards event in 2019.

Our accreditation process is extremely rigorous and comprehensive, ensuring that only franchisors with tried-and-tested, easily replicated, scalable and sustainable business models are accepted as AFA members and granted permission to use our Seal of Approval.

We work within a framework known as ‘Core Values’, which ensures that everything we do is in the very best interests of our members and the franchising sector in general. One of our key values is Ethical Franchising, referring to the fact that we have broadly adopted the Code of Ethics from the European Franchise Federation as a base for accreditation purposes.

I share Ms. Wilkins’s concern that the Code of Ethics cannot simply be ‘borrowed as a publicity gimmick’, but this does not apply to the AFA and never will. Despite the fact that the AFA currently has no intention of looking to join the European Franchise Federation, the Code is there for everyone in the sector to abide by. We take the Code of Ethics particularly seriously and it underpins the vast majority of our activities.

Although competition in every industry is generally expected and not necessarily considered a negative, I am in agreement with Ms. Wilkins that multiple, unregulated franchise associations popping up all over the place will cause confusion in the sector and could potentially undermine and dilute the excellent work that we and the BFA do. We aim to provide a suite of products and services that complements, rather than competes with the BFA, and strongly believe there is a requirement for both associations.

Whilst I am grateful to Pip for alerting the franchise sector to the potential pitfalls of these copycat, franchise associations, please rest assured that we are not one of them! Franchising is my genuine, ongoing passion, hence why I have invested so much time and money into the AFA over the years, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the journey it has taken me on so far.

And, just to confirm, even if rogue associations do come and go, the AFA is here to stay! I’d like to personally thank all of our new and founder members for their kind messages of encouragement and continued support in these potentially confusing times.

Looking ahead to 2019, we fully intend to continue with our excellent work in supporting our members, partners and the franchising sector as a whole, and are confident that any copycat associations will only serve to strengthen our position in the sector, as an association of integrity and legitimacy.

Until next time,
CLAIRE ROBINSON

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