Three Resources for Women-Owned Franchises in 2022

Spotlight on People

June may be Women’s History Month, but the International Franchise Association works year-round to support women entrepreneurs through our Women’s Franchise Network. This network, led by the Women’s Franchise Committee, was created to foster local networks and develop relationships with female franchising professionals so that they can discuss common issues, share ideas and offer solutions to the unique challenges that come from being a woman in business.  

In this blog, we’ll highlight three leaders from the Women’s Franchise Network, along with their support for women-led franchises. 

Elle Gerhards, Partner - Fox Rothschild 

Fox Rothschild is a Philadelphia-based Am Law 100 firm founded in 1907 and has grown to more than $507 million in revenue, with 950 lawyers across 29 offices in 70 practice areas. The firm’s Franchising, Licensing and Distribution practice supports a number of the world’s largest franchisors with their daily legal needs. To learn more about Fox Rothschild, click here.  

Partner Elle Gerhards serves as Co-Chair of the Franchising & Distribution Practice Group at Fox Rothschild, representing regional, national and international clients. She works with startup and established franchise clients to structure franchise programs, draft franchise documents and counsel on regulatory compliance matters, master franchising, multi-unit licensing and area-development business arrangements.  

Ms. Gerhards helped launch the IFA Philadelphia Women's Franchise Network and has been selected to the Franchise Times list of “Legal Eagles” (2016-2022), Super Lawyers – Rising Stars" list for Business/Corporate Law in Pennsylvania (2017), "Lawyers on the Fast Track" (2018), and Who's Who Legal "Franchise" list (2018, 2019).  

Heather McLeod, CMO - Authority Brands 

Founded in 2017, Authority Brands is the parent franchisor for 10 well-known franchise brands. Authority’s franchise network has grown to more than 1,700 locations operated by 900 franchisees, with collective revenue of $71 million.  

Heather McLeod became the CMO of Authority Brands in 2018 and has focused on building processes, training, support, and systems to help Authority Brands franchisees grow. Her success in multi-franchise marketing has helped her grow from a 2-person team in 2018 to 50 today, and she currently serves as part of the leadership team of the Baltimore chapter of the Women’s Franchise Network. To learn more about Authority Brands’s franchises, click the following links below.  

Larisa Walega, CFE, Vice President, Marketing - Ziebart International Corporation 

Founded in 1959 and franchising since 1962, automotive detail franchise Ziebart has grown to more than 1,200 service centers and 400 locations in 34 countries. Ziebart franchises offer professional automotive detailing, window tinting, paint protection films, fabric and rust protection, sprayed-on bed liners, glass repair, scratch repair and more.  

According to the Auto Care Association, the automotive aftermarket is expected to grow to $477 billion by 2024, and Ziebart has reported record-breaking sales to close out 2021 due to the automotive chip shortage causing high demand for vehicle maintenance and preservation. The franchise experienced a year-over-year increase of 40% in retail leads versus 2020. To learn more about a franchise opportunity with Ziebart, click here. 

Larisa Walega joined Ziebart in 2009, and quickly rose to the level of Vice President of Marketing thanks to her strong marketing acumen. She currently holds responsibility for Ziebart’s retail, franchise development, franchise ownership, and employee branding experience. Larisa also serves as The Vice Chair of the Women’s Franchise Network and is on the leadership team of the Southeast Michigan chapter of the Women’s Franchise Network.