The global franchise industry is poised to surpass $4.5 trillion by the end of 2024 and women are staking their claim. As this lucrative industry continues to grow, the number of female-led franchises has simultaneously increased. While women-owned franchises now account for about a quarter of franchises worldwide, women are disrupting their respective industries and creating a demand for more women to be in the lead. 

As a part of the Authority Brands team, I was drawn to open my own franchise as a way to diversify my own income and put additional roots in the ground. As co-owner of Woofie’s of Columbia I’ve gotten on-the-ground entrepreneurial experience and realized what an incredible opportunity franchising affords owners, especially women. With March being International Women’s Month, there is no better time to celebrate women who are carving out new paths in franchising and achieving scalable, sustainable success in their own endeavors. Here’s an inside look into what franchise owners at Authority Brands have to say. 


Seize the Opportunity

Breaking barriers to enter a traditionally male-dominated industry, home services for instance, may not be easy but it is possible. Many female leaders draw from their previous careers and personal experiences to embrace a new opportunity to become their own boss. Kara Kelsey, co-owner of DoodyCalls of the Suncoast, says, “Being a woman in franchising, especially the trades, means embracing the opportunity to challenge stereotypes and pave the way for future generations. There will be unique obstacles and rewards, but ultimately, being a woman in these industries means being a trailblazer and contributing to the ongoing evolution of gender equality in the workforce. It’s about encouraging diversity, fostering inclusivity, and embracing the power of female leadership in traditionally male-dominated spaces.”



Combat the Stigma 

Many times female entrepreneurs and leaders find themselves at a crossroads. They launched their business and are ready to hit the ground running but encounter hesitant customers or industry pros who might not feel as confident in women doing jobs like theirs. Capricia Turner, owner and operator of Mosquito Squad of Greater Indianapolis, is no stranger to this but draws from her past to inspire her own confidence and put any customer concerns at ease. “In a male-dominated industry like pest control, I certainly face challenges related to stereotypes. However, as diversity is evolving, it has led to more opportunities for women in this industry. While some customers may have preconceived notions about gender and competence, I feel my customers’ reactions have been overall very supportive. I tend to lean on my 22 years in the military to overcome barriers if I encounter hostility or skepticism regarding my skills or expertise.”


Embrace the Support Systems & Community

Owning a franchise is about connections with your team, customers, or network of fellow franchise owners. Creating personal relationships with customers can lead to positive word of mouth and an increase in calls. Moreover, offering continued education, listening to your team, and treating them as people over a means for profit can inspire them to do their best and work hard for the betterment of the company and their careers. 

Kelley Pendergast, co-owner of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Pasadena, knows the importance of team building and fostering positive customer connections well, especially as many customers are also women and want to feel comfortable when contracting a business for home repairs. She says, “I’ve found that many customers appreciate the different perspective and attention to detail that I bring to the table. Frequently, it’s the female caller who schedules the service appointment, and there’s a comforting feeling when they encounter another woman on the receiving end of the call. Establishing trust is paramount, and while dispelling stereotypes initially requires effort, the quality of our work soon speaks for itself, rendering gender inconsequential. Within my team, I’ve cultivated an inclusive, respectful culture, fostering a supportive environment where everyone feels valued and empowered.”

The entrepreneurial draw toward franchising is strong as there is a roadmap to success and a support system to lean on. According to Lindsay Keyser, co-owner of DRYmedic Restoration Services of Lakewood Ranch, “There is a draw to franchising because it provides a path to owning and operating a business at a time when starting from the ground up can seem nearly impossible. As an owner, I am thankful to those who have put in the hard work to lay a strong foundation and a plan for many others to own a business and make dreams a reality.”

Expansion and scalability are key for long-term franchise success and more female leaders are coming to learn this as they expand their businesses and join the field. Marcie Campagnola, owner of Woofie’s of Caste Rock, notes a definite uptick in female franchise leaders. “There’s absolutely a rise of women-owned franchises as we have historically been the ones running the households, managing the budget, maintaining the schedule, handling home repair and maintenance appointments, so running a business is a natural transition. Home services will always be in demand and women understand the need for these businesses as well as the importance of word-of-mouth referrals and reputation.”

Franchising options like those within the Authority Brands portfolio are keeping a keen focus on the rise of women-led business and how they can best attract, support, and encourage these leaders to achieve success. With the rise in women participating in franchising, it’s also important that companies seek opportunities to be inclusive in their leadership teams. Representation is everything and having a group of executives with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints is what today’s entrepreneurs demand.

As the future of franchising continues to trend upwardly female, women in the industry are creating new paths that previous generations would have dreamt of having. Change starts today, and with the way the workforce is evolving, I’m confident saying the future is bright for women in franchising.  


About Heather McLeod, Chief Growth Officer of Authority Brands

Heather first joined The Cleaning Authority in 2015 and has been an integral part of the formation of Authority Brands and its success, bringing her passion for collaboration, customer experience, and process to everything she does. She served as Chief Marketing Officer for Authority Brands from its formation in 2017 until 2022, when she assumed the new role of Chief Growth Officer. Heather is also personally involved in Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Baltimore as a volunteer since 2019. In 2022, Heather officially joined the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Baltimore Boys & Girls Club of America. Heather also serves at the University of Louisville College of Business YUM! CGFE Board of Advisors.