Where did 2019 go?! What a year!

The Top 5 Things We Did To Grow the AFA in 2019

As 2019 draws to a close, I’d like to reflect on what has been a year of incredible growth for the AFA.

By April, we had literally doubled our membership, as more and more franchisors recognised the AFA as a credible franchising association and turned to us to help them grow their businesses.

Here are the top 5 things we did to grow the AFA in 2019:

1. We employed a Business Development Manager

As most of you know, Sarah Canny joined the organisation as our new Business Development Manager this year. This was a big step for the AFA, as it was the first time we had employed a full-time member of staff, but it was a great decision. Sarah has worked tirelessly to increase our membership and provide excellent value to our existing partners and members, in the form of regional meetings, networking events, partner offers, discounts and much more.

2.We appointed Regional and Deputy Regional Chairs

This year, we decided to take on some additional help in the form of Regional and Deputy Chairs. These people are AFA members and partners who have graciously offered to run our regular, local networking events in order to give back to the franchising community. We now have regional events running from Aberdeen to Exeter, and our ultimate aim is to ensure that all members have access to meetings that are within a reasonable distance from them.

3.We expanded our Partner Network

Since 2018, we have enjoyed a mutually beneficial partnership with Natwest and have, more recently, partnered with HSBC too. Our partner network has expanded, with the aim of providing quality, franchise-focused services in all sectors to our members. Both Croner and Peninsula, two of the AFA’s trusted HR, Employment Law and Health & Safety partners, have agreed to advise members on any HR issues they may face, and will even provide them with some free advice.

Companies such as TRUSTist®, the review platform, have offered our members HUGE discounts, the details of which can be found in our offers sheet, and advertising businesses, like Franchise Local, now include specific space for our members to add their AFA accreditation to the profiles on their site. We partnered with Elite to bring you the EF100, showcasing the very best in franchising, we were delighted to see 5 of our regional chairs, both of our founding members and many others from our network featured.

We are currently looking to work more closely with other organisations, such as What’s On 4, EWIF and the Business and Franchise Shows, to help connect members with relevant organisations and support them in their endeavours.

Lastly, we also partnered with an organisation called Melu, to provide our website with a managed, live chat system, staffed by REAL PEOPLE. This has greatly helped to improve our accessibility and availability, creating more engagement with website visitors and ultimately boosting loyalty and customer satisfaction.

4. We held our first ever National Conference and AFA Awards

This year, our two major events, the National Conference and the AFA Awards Dinner, were both extremely well received by the sector.

The National Conference included a keynote speech by Ben Kench, the well-known sales and business growth coach and creator of ‘The Business Booster Programme’. We also organised a speed mentoring session, which was extremely successful, with lots of positive feedback received from the attendees.

The AFA Awards Dinner was a glittering, black-tie event, held at the Jury’s Inn in Milton Keynes and attended by 140 people, consisting of franchisors, franchisees and suppliers from across the sector. It was fantastic to be able to provide so many franchising professionals with the opportunity to mingle and network, as well as recognise, celebrate and reward franchising excellence from franchisors, franchisees and suppliers.

We received such positive feedback from these events and are so grateful to our sponsors and attendees for supporting them. Both events are scheduled to run again in 2020.

Huge thank you to all of our sponsors, BBX, Daltons, The Office Genie, Accentia, 4×4 Vehicle Hire, TRUSTist®, Business Live, and Roden Associates. Congratulations to all of our winners!

5. We increased our social media presence

The AFA is now very active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. We’ve been literally inundated with excellent stories from our member network, which we’re always happy to publish, so please do let us know when you take on new franchisees, get nominated for awards on just have something interesting or exciting to share.


As you can see, 2019 has been a very busy year for the AFA!

In 2020, we are looking at running workshops with industry experts, as well as continuing to offer e-learning services to members on a vast range of topics.

We’re really looking forward to seeing what the coming year has in store for the AFA. Our aim is to meet more of the franchising community and provide greater support to more members in their franchising journey. We will also continue to promote franchising to the wider business audience, thereby contributing to the growth of the sector as a whole.

Until next time,

CLAIRE ROBINSON, CEO The Approved Franchise Association (The AFA)

 If you would like any more information on the Approved Franchise Association, advice on franchising, support and or have any questions. Please contact Sarah, sarah@theafa.org.uk

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