The history of franchising

Franchising as we know it today employs around 560,000 people and contributes £13.7 billion to the UK economy.

There are many different reasons why people decide to go into a franchise venture, from a career change to wanting to become their own boss without having to start a business from scratch. To understand more about how franchising grew to a multi-billion industry, let’s take a look at its historical timeline.

Singer Sewing Centre

The first example of early franchising is the famous Singer Sewing Centre.

Developed by Isaac Singer back in the 1850s, the Sewing Centre presented two critical issues for its inventor; customers had to learn how to operate the machine before deciding to purchase it and Singer did not have the capacity to manufacture his machines. The solution? Franchising!

Singer sold the rights to sell his sewing machines to local business owners who, in addition, trained the customers who purchased the machines. The result was that Singer’s reputation and product expanded exponentially.

The fees that Singer received from the licence rights went towards the manufacturing costs for the machines and as more businesses bought the rights, Singer was able to mass-produce them much easier, earning millions of dollars for himself and his franchisees in the process.

From Coca-Cola to McDonald’s

Since then, many industries have adopted Singer’s early franchising model and advanced it.

One such name, and probably the most famous, is Coca-Cola. By selling bottling rights to the local businesses throughout the United States, Coca-Cola eased the manufacturing and distribution pressure and this enabled the brand to expand. Other sectors, such as car manufacturers and fast food restaurants, have adopted similar processes, such as McDonald’s.

It has been noted that franchising between the 1930s and early 1950s was a major factor in helping the United States recover after a major slump in its economy. Fast food chain McDonald’s can trace its routes back to the 50’s, when fast food restaurants were starting to rise. With this acceleration franchising, too, began to expand into what we see it as today.

Though franchising has seen some small changes throughout history, the overall model and process remains largely the same. Driven and determined individuals can purchase a branch of a business in almost any sector and can operate it as though it is their own entity. Food franchises are the most successful, with seven out the top ten global franchises operating in this field, but there are also franchises in accounting, cleaning, and gardening.

Looking to find out more?

To find out more about how you can start a successful franchise venture, and enjoy a similar success to Isaac Singer, take a look at the franchises available to purchase on Reed Commercial now.

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Sandy Purewal

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