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Posted on Jun 13, 2011

Searching for the Best Franchises for Minorities

Minority Franchise Owner - Woman at Stock Chart - Franchise HelpTrying to determine which franchise opportunities are the best for minorities seems straightforward enough. However, when you actually dig in and attempt to pinpoint the definitive source material that will lead to an answer, things get a bit slippery.

Many franchises incentivize minorities to join their systems. As president of the World Franchising Network Rob Bond puts it, these franchises "grease the skids" on behalf of minority candidates because they see value in promoting diversity among their franchisees. On account of a still-languid economy, however, many franchisors' approach has changed significantly in recent years. As Bond explains, “African Americans and Hispanics were being aggressively recruited five years ago to fill vacancies.” But today most franchisors are more concerned with trying to grease the skids for foreign investors with significant piles of investment capital.

In November of 2010, Bond published an ambitious study cataloging the 50 most minority-friendly franchises. The study was based on a questionnaire in which franchisors were asked about overall minority representation in their system, minority managerial representation, and minority incentive programs. Bond’s study provides an extremely valuable data set and is one of the most comprehensive studies of which franchises are best for minorities.

To most effectively interpret Bond's minorities in franchising report, it's important to understand the methodology used by the questionnaire. First, it should be noted that the very definition of a minority can be problematic and subject to interpretation. In the World Franchising survey, that ambiguity is addressed by defining minorities as Hispanics, African Americans, Asian American and Native Americans. (Women are not considered minorities for the purposes of the report.) Also, while there is an “other” (fill-in-the-blank) option, it's important to note that a franchisor responding to the survey might not think to add persons with disabilities to the mix (as their inclusion as a "minority" is open to debate). Nonetheless, this report is a great resource for anyone looking to understand the state of minorities in franchising today.

Another resource for those exploring minorities in franchising is a recent IFA / PricewaterhouseCoopers study. Although it lacks the specificity of the World Franchising report’s minority-friendly franchise listing, the PricewaterhouseCoopers report commissioned by the IFA Educational Foundation’s Diversity Institute provides a comprehensive analysis of (1) The percentage of franchised businesses that are owned by each minority and gender group and (2) the percent of businesses owned by each minority and gender group that are franchised using US Census Bureau Data. This study reveals that 19.3% of franchises were owned by minorities, compared to 13.2% of non-franchised businesses.

Of course, it's once again important to understand the methodology used in assembling this report. According to Miriam Brewer, who runs the International Franchise Association’s Educational Foundation’s Diversity Institute, “The IFA adopted the U.S. Census Bureau’s categories to define minorities (racial and ethnic) for the Minority Franchise program.” The Census Bureau defines minorities as Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives and Asians and Pacific Islanders. Although many of the Minority Franchise program members are women, the data for this study does not represent them. “We hope to expand in the future to be as inclusive as possible in terms of true diversity,” Brewer explains.

At the end of the day, for those hoping to understand which franchises are best for minorities, there are a number of resources available. The World Franchising study provides a useful and highly specific list of minority-friendly concepts, but excludes some potential minority categories. The IFA / PricewaterhouseCoopers study, meanwhile, mines U.S. Census data to provide great aggregate statistics on the state of minority ownership in franchised vs. non-franchised businesses. However, the report doesn't call out the top franchises for minorities by name.

Researchers and prospective franchisees would be well-served by consulting both reports (and any other available sources) to get as full a picture as possible of the best franchise opportunities for minorities today.

As a journalist, Susanna Speier has published over 100 articles for print and online publications. She holds a BA from Hampshire College, an MFA from Brooklyn College, C.U.N.Y. and a post graduate screenwriting certificate from Boston University. You can follow Susanna on Twitter @SusannaSpeier or visit her at her website

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