Do ex-offenders make suitable franchisees?

With limited job opportunities for ex-offenders, is franchising an option for those looking to turn their lives around?

Rejected re-offenders

Although crime in the UK continues to fall, re-offending rates remain at around 65%. Research suggests that those who re-offend lack a stable environment on their release.

A 2013 Ministry of Justice report found links between unemployment and the chances of re-offending. A separate study suggested that on release, “a legitimate job can reduce former prisoners’ chances of re-offending”.

Ex-offenders who do attempt to join the workforce are often rejected due to their criminal convictions. This can leave a long period between release and employment – leading to a higher chance of re-offending.


The key to a life away from crime

Timpson, famous for key cutting and shoe repair, have a long-standing policy of actively recruiting ex-offenders.

Owner, James Timpson, stated in the Telegraph that there are similarities to the people he recruits. They have usually been “in care, or failed at school, or got in with a bad lot” which led them to taking “drugs, drinking, and nicking cars”, where eventually, “they get to a stage where they want to get a job and be normal and stop the chaos”.

Timpson is open that not everyone is right for employment due to mental health issues, grievous offences, or gang relationships. However, those that he does employ have two great qualities, “they’re more loyal and … obsessed with turning up on time”. The benefits of this system seem obvious, a devoted workforce, and a more stable community.

Nevertheless, even though these training schemes are becoming more popular – Boots and Greggs now do the same – as many as 60% of ex-offenders are still unemployed one year after their release from prison.


Forward thinking franchising

Can the same model that’s working to recruit employees, work for those recruiting for franchisees?

Sarah Campbell, Head of Strategic Growth for SmartPA, states that “skills, knowledge and drive shouldn’t be overlooked due to a criminal past” and that “everyone deserves a second chance”.

SmartPA, like Timpson, have started to “work closely with HM Prisons to create effective training and employment opportunities for ex-offenders”. They are proud that they are “committed to helping people get back to work, successfully reintegrate into society and minimise re-offending rates”.

In an industry where success is based on following a clear system and understanding the meaning of hard work, ex-offenders can make good candidates due to their drive for change and their experience working within a rule-based-system.

Jon Sharp, owner of online estate agent franchise Peach Lettings, insists that “everyone should be considered on their individual merit” and that “the most important things to me are having the right mindset to get stuck in from the start, and the right attitude to carry the business forwards”.

Whilst there are people that will not be suitable for franchising, we’d love to hear your insights on what you think of recruiting franchisees from prison.

1 Prison Fellowship, 2015
2 British Government, 2013
3, 2008

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James Coombs

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