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Archive of franchising in East England news and franchisee case studies

Interview with Rachel Jackson, Oscar Pet Food, Hertfordshire

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Name: Rachel Jackson
Location: Hertfordshire
Franchise: Oscar Pet Food

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying a franchise business?

I worked full time as a project manager in a civil engineering consultancy.

What attracted you to franchising versus started starting up on your own or finding employment?

My husband and I were Oscar’ customers; feeding our own dog Oscars food. When the franchisee we bought our food from announced their retirement and sale of their business we started to look a lot into Oscars and whether a franchise would work for us. We liked the support and branding of a franchise, as it gave us the confidence that the business could work.

Why did you choose Oscar Pet Food franchise? What research did you undertake?

As customers we were already confident in the product and like the service offered. We looked at other similar franchises on the market, but liked the support offered from Oscars to continue growing our business even after the sale of the franchise. As we love animals, it seemed the obvious choice to do something we enjoyed!

Do you feel there is enough support or training in the industry, or externally, to help mums looking to get back into work and considering starting a business? What additional support do you think would help?

"Oscars have been extremely supportive and understanding that we work our business around our young family."

We have the opportunity to attend regional meetings to meet with other franchisees and members of the management team, to share ideas and learn about new products and industry developments.

There are also regular conference calls between the management team and franchisees on different aspects which is perfect as you don’t even need to leave home! The franchisee support team have also attended meetings with me at home to help to work on marketing ideas that fit in with our family life style and our business.

How did you raise the finance for funding your franchise? Did you use any financial support (grants etc) specific to business startup?

We applied for a small business loan from the bank. Oscars helped us with our business plan so we were confident when meeting the bank manager.

What training and support did you receive initially from your Franchisor?

We attended a residential training course and then had the support of a field trainer who worked with us in our area to start to build the business. Our trainer was also available to answer any questions over the phone if they arose.

What is a typical day for you as a Oscar Pet Food franchisee?

After dropping my son at nursery I usually sort out any paper work in the office such as invoicing my customers and processing their card payments. I organise my delivery route and print off my stock picking sheet whilst my daughter has a nap. I then load my van ready with stock for that day’s deliveries.

After collecting my son from nursery we have lunch and then spend the afternoon in the van delivering to our customers. Once my children are in bed I call or text my customers to see if they need a delivery the following day and put their orders on to my management system ready for the morning.

Balancing work and family life is important for all franchisees but more so for working parents, do you think franchising gives a good work and family life balance? Has becoming a franchisee changed you and your family’s life?

With the business model already in place, it allows franchisees to follow a tried and tested formula, so you can concentrate on the things that really matter and grow the business.

"Becoming a franchisee has allowed me to continue working and earning a living, whilst at the same time working flexibly so that I can look after and spend time my children."

Did you take advantage of any support available to women looking to get into business? E.g. member of a women in business network, attend any specific women business events?

No not yet, but I am aware of several groups in my area.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give other mums looking to get back into work and considering starting their own business through franchising?

Look at as several different franchises so you can pick the right one to suit you and your family. Make sure that the franchisor offers ongoing support after the purchase of the franchise. You need to be organised and self disciplined, but it’s a great opportunity.

What are your plans for the future?

To continue with Oscars and to work to grow my businesses further.

Would you do it again?

Without a doubt!

To request the FREE Oscar Pet Food franchise prospectus, click here

Nationwide company launches local branch in Colchester

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Buying tyres has just got a lot easier and more convenient in Colchester and the surrounding areas, thanks to the launch of a new etyres branch.

Nathan Head has hit the ground running with the opening of etyres Colchester and will be fitting tyres and batteries for customers at their home or work at low prices.

“Our service takes all the hassle out of buying tyres and having them fitted,” Nathan, 30, explained: “Motorists in Colchester and all of the surrounding areas can now sit back and relax at home or carry on at work while their new tyres are fitted at a time that suits them.

“It means they don’t have to waste their time driving to a local tyre depot and sitting around in a draughty waiting room while the job is done.

“And because we have low overheads, we can pass big savings on to our customers with prices much lower than the leading high street fast-fits thanks to the etyres Discount Promise.”

Driver Hire franchise heads for Huntingdon

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Rob Stead is the latest recruit to the Driver Hire franchise network. He’s just bought their Huntingdon territory. A greenfield site, along with Huntingdon, the office also covers Chatteris, St Neots and St Ives.

Rob’s business background is rich and varied, starting in property management before joining Hypo Bank in the City of London where he became an administrative accountant, producing management information for their European operations. When his employers relocated to Germany, Rob decided it was time to look for a new challenge.

“I’d no preconceived ideas about what I wanted to do,” says Rob. “I came across Driver Hire at a franchise exhibition and learnt that it’s one of the UK’s leading franchises, with a proven business model and a long-history of success. I did some research and spent time with one of their existing franchisees. His candid advice was one of the key reasons I decided to invest.”

Driver Hire provides temporary and permanent drivers and other logistics staff to organisations across the UK. They help when customers need extra staff to deal with holidays, illness or business expansion. Driver Hire is also a leading provider of Driver CPC and other logistics training.

“Over the past 30 years Driver Hire has built an excellent reputation as a franchisor,” says Rob. “The levels of support I’ve received so far have been outstanding. I’ve just completed a two week foundation training course and, as a new franchisee, for the next six months, I’m part of their Franchise Development Programme. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of running my own business and meeting the staffing needs of local businesses here in Huntingdon.”

Interview with Gary Riches of Driver Hire, Colchester

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Before buying his Driver Hire franchise in November 2012, Gary hadn’t really considered owning a recruitment business.

“Before joining the world of commerce, I was a serviceman in the Royal Corps of Transport and I subsequently worked in sales for a number of big brand courier companies. Recruitment wasn’t on my radar. What actually alerted me to the excellent business opportunities with a Driver Hire franchise was my experience of using their Bury St Edmunds office, as a client.”

The franchise business model seemed pretty straightforward, where the ingredients to a healthy business income are simply matching candidates with clients at the right time, good sales activity and providing excellent customer service.”

Having bought the business as a resale – the business was already established – Gary has already achieved significant business growth. And he has also started winning awards. Gary was recognised at the coveted annual ‘Startups Awards’ when he won the ‘Franchisee of the Year’ category in the autumn of 2013. He was also named Driver Hire’s New Start of the Year 2013.

Gary adds: “The last financial year [2013/14] was a great year, especially as sales tipped over the £1 million mark. So naturally I’m looking to grow the business even further. There’s always room for improvement and being part of the Driver Hire network means that we can also tap into their additional revenue streams such as training and licence checking services.”

When asked what persuaded him that Driver Hire was the right franchised business for him, Gary explains, “One of the things that convinced me to invest was how easy it was to get finance to buy the business. One of the banks I spoke to was more than willing to lend me the funds, when I told them it was a Driver Hire franchise I was looking to buy.”

It’s been a great move and I love what I do.”

A partnership made in Oscar Pet Foods

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Franchisees:Stuart & Teresa Curtis
Territory: Cambourne, South Cambridgeshire
Franchise: Oscar Pet Foods

We just wanted to change our lifestyle. The long unsociable hours of working in the public transport sector had reached the point of no return for me, resulting in the decision for Teresa and I to build a business together.

It has been a long-term dream and to find OSCAR for sale in our area came just at the right time and with a product that gave us the chance to work with something we love – pets!

Some years ago we were OSCAR customers in another area so we understood the benefits of the food and the excellent service. Meeting the franchise team, who were extremely supportive, confirmed that no other franchise would take our interest.

The process of buying an existing business was thorough and seamless, which has helped us to adapt with ease, happily meeting existing customers while looking forward to new challenges over the coming months.

Supported by an excellent range of products we can also provide our elderly rescue dogs Skeet, Lucy and Freddie with a senior diet that includes a mobility system to help them maintain good health at this stage of their lives.

Card Connection franchisee adds to territory

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Leading greeting card publisher and franchisor, Card Connection, has announced its franchise for Bury St Edmunds and Kings Lynn has added to his territory.

 

Former sales executive and maths teacher, Michael Hayes, has taken over a further 50 stores in his area expansion, which now means he takes over the supply and merchandising of Card Connection’s range of more than 1,200 quality greeting cards and accessories to around 200 retail outlets in the region.

“My franchise territory now includes more of Suffolk and Norfolk incorporating the towns of Stowmarket and Diss over to the Suffolk coast,” confirms Michael Hayes. “I originally started with 110 retail clients in 2009 and have grown the franchise to 150 but wanted to get to a nice round figure of 200 as soon as I could and purchasing the extra area has enabled me to do this!

“To manage the increased business, my part-time employee who helps me pick and pack the greetings cards ready for delivery, has increased her hours, which means I can spend more time on the road,” explains Michael. “I used to visit about six stores per day and now will aim to increase this to seven or eight.

“My mathematical background has been helpful when it comes to analysing sales to see which greetings card designs are selling best,” continues Michael. “Planning out call routes is also important and I really enjoy this aspect of the role. Liaising with customers face-to-face is particularly satisfying and I also like the creative aspect of merchandising the card displays. In-fact I enjoy everything about my Card Connection franchise!”

Card Connection which last year celebrated its 21st year in operation as a franchisor is one of the UK’s largest card publishers and is the market leader in the franchised distribution of greeting cards. The business’ unique model of consignment sales has resulted in a strong brand and established reputation which has been proven over many years. Through its franchisees Card Connection supplies about 12,000 retailers throughout the UK.

Card Connection is part of UK Greetings, which is a subsidiary of American Greetings Inc., one of the largest greeting card publishers in the world and has limited vacancies for franchisees that are keen to run an expanding business. Since the franchise network in the UK is complete, the available opportunities now consist of acquiring an already-established territory from an existing franchisee. These vary in price according to their level of development, but start at £7k + Stock + Card Connection fee with earnings potential in excess of £50k per annum.

Belvoir franchisee shortlisted for National award

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Belvoir are proud to announce that Terry Lucking of Belvoir Peterborough and Belvoir Cambridge has been shortlisted at this year’s British Franchise Association (bfa) HSBC Franchisee of the Year Awards, supported by Express Newspapers.

This is the 25th bfa Franchisee of the Year Awards and the winners will be announced at a prestigious black-tie ceremony due to take place at Birmingham Town Hall on the 2nd October.

Terry has been shortlisted in the Olderpreneur Franchisee category, which aims to recognise those who have utilised their wealth of experience to run and grow a successful franchise.

Other categories include best Young Franchisee, B2B Franchisee, Female Franchisee, Micro-Business Franchisee, and best Customer Service.

Terry will also have the chance to win the coveted Franchisee of the Year Award, which will recognise an overall winner from the 19 finalists across all of the categories.

Terry said: “I am very proud to have been shortlisted as Franchisee of the Year, which I won in 2007. I went to London last month and gave a presentation on what I have achieved from an entrepreneurial point of view, and the work that I do for the wider franchise network. I am really looking forward to the bfa award ceremony later this year, as it is a very enjoyable, slick and high profile event.”

Brian Smart, Director General, bfa, said: “This year the finalists excel in their sectors, demonstrating business drive and ambition. The shortlisted business men and women showcase the talent in franchising in the UK across a range of commerce, small and large. Their successes deserve to be championed, and we’re all looking forward to the judging process.”

15 years in business
Last month, Terry also celebrated 15 years with the Belvoir network. He opened his first Belvoir franchise in Peterborough in 1999 and has also owned Belvoir Cambridge since 2010.

“My team recently presented me with a plaque to celebrate 15 years in business, which was fantastic, and I would like to pay tribute to them as I really could not have achieved any of this without them,” says Terry. “It is my team that gives me the space and time to be able to do the things I do and to keep on taking the business forward.”

Steve Sleigh talks about life as a Mail Boxes Etc franchisee

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Colchester-based businessman Steve Sleigh opened his first franchised Mail Boxes Etc. store in Colchester in 2000. Now with a second store in Ipswich, he is very proactive within the franchise and continues to serve on MBE’s network council, an advisory body of franchisees and MBE management, as well as on the separate marketing council.

 

He is also well known in his home town and has received awards from the local Colchester and District Business Awards in the “business to business” category and subsequently for excellent customer service.

Additionally, he has received Mail Boxes Etc.’s own accolade of “Franchisee of the year” in recognition of his outstanding achievements and business development and also for his unique contribution to the success of the MBE network as a whole.

Steve had been thinking about changing his working life but was not consciously considering franchising when he came across Mail Boxes Etc. He was driving through heavy London traffic when he caught a snatch of a radio programme that instantly grabbed his attention. It was an interview on a business programme about global franchise MBE and its wide range of business, postal and communications services.

That few minutes on the airwaves were enough to set Steve on the path to self-employment and a complete change in his life. He says: “It really intrigued me and I was extremely keen to find out more.”

Steve explained: “I had become disenchanted with my job as a sales rep for printing companies and wanted to do something different, preferably working for myself. I was cautious because past experience of “dabbling” in two small businesses I’d set up meant I was well aware of the pitfalls of being my own boss.

“Many years ago I’d had my own small printing firm and, at a later stage, a business selling and installing automatic gates and garage doors. In both cases, the market place was crowded and the margins were small. It meant hard work and a lot of headaches – with no-one to share it with.

“I’d read about franchising and understood the concept. I particularly liked the idea of working for myself but the real appeal is the back-up and support that comes from being part of a bigger organisation. I also believe it’s a huge benefit being able to talk to other franchisees and learn from their experiences.

“Colchester is an ideal town for this business – it is a rapidly expanding place with a thriving business community ranging from self-employed people and small enterprises to government departments and large corporations – exactly the right customer mix for us.

“Hearing that radio broadcast was a lucky break for me,” Steve says enthusiastically. “MBE matched exactly what I’d been looking for and I’m thrilled to say that things are going really well. I believe MBE’s strength is in its ability to adapt to constantly changing demands as business methods change and by tailoring services to suit the local market place to ensure we provide what customers want.”

His Ipswich store offers the same wide range of services to a similar customer base as Colchester. He says: “Expanding with a second store had always been in the back of my mind and I was keen to make the most of the opportunity when it presented itself.”

He splits his time between the two stores, concentrating on marketing and developing the business while his staff of seven people look after the day to day running of the stores.
Steve says: “It works well because I have very capable and reliable people working for me. They know the business inside out and use their initiative, so I don’t have to worry. If they have a genuine concern or need a prompt decision, I am only ever a phone call away.”

Steve continued: “We pride ourselves on offering support and advice to other businesses. We have the ability to be extremely flexible, for example to meet tight deadlines, which can be invaluable to customers, especially in times of crisis.

“In addition, many businesses outsource parts of their operations to us. For example, we act as the post room and the print department for many companies because we have the capacity to do jobs quickly, accurately and often more cost-effectively than in-house.”

MBE’s franchisees come from all walks of life and, like Steve, have joined the network for a variety of individual reasons. Currently MBE’s franchisees include people who were previously company directors, IT managers, those working in banking and finance, marketing, nursing and the Armed Services.

MBE is keen to find more people with the same dynamism and business acumen as Steve to join the network. Although the franchise is well represented in many major towns and cities across the UK and Ireland there remains considerable scope for future expansion.

Leading ‘bumps and scuffs’ repairer comes to Chelmsford

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Revive!, the UK’s leading provider of minor paint and bodywork repairs for vehicles, is opening for business in Chelmsford.

 

After serving 22 years as a Royal Signals Sergeant, Peter Mulcahy (41) is ready for a new challenge and will own and manage Revive! Chelmsford with the help of his step son Zac.

Said Peter: “I’ve always wanted to run my own business and fully control what happens around me. Together, Zac and I aim is to establish Revive! as the number one SMART repairer in the area. We will work hard to establish ourselves, earn a good reputation and build a solid base of work.”

Peter has high ambitions for his business, which only uses repair technicians accredited by the Institute of the Motor Industry, providing quality, cost effective repairs at a time and place to suit customers.

Explained Peter: “In time I will expand the business from ‘one man in a van’ to a fleet of vehicles servicing the Southend area as well.”

Revive! works with car dealerships, fleet and lease companies, insurance companies and the general public. All work carries a lifetime ownership guarantee.

 

etyre franchisee supported each step of the way

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Franchisee: Ben Lockett
Territory: Cambridge
Franchise: etyres

etyres Cambridge case study – Learning from the family, Ben’s story

Ben Lockett launched etyres Cambridge in 2008, having previously gained three years’ experience with his parents’ etyres franchise in the Crewe territory. From day one of opening the Cambridge branch Ben has been so busy that he had to add extra vans to cope with orders.

In 2008 Ben made the decision to relocate from Crewe to Cambridge, this also coincided with his parents’ decision to retire from the franchise after seven happy years. Luckily for Ben the Cambridge territory was vacant and a swap of territories was arranged. “I was delighted that the Cambridge territory was available, knowing the etyres commitment to its Franchise Owners made the whole process seamless. I was up and running in the new territory within a matter of weeks” recalls Ben.

Ben had previously gained an in depth understanding of the requirements of an etyres Franchise Owner, and lots of hands on experience of the business model as a result of helping his parents with etyres Crewe. This experience confirmed that etyres was the right move for him and his family. This familiarity with the etyres business model and its ethos meant Ben hit the ground running, and within a few months needed to add a second van to cope with the flood of orders. “I’ve been very busy since day one, and it hasn’t slowed down yet” Ben confirmed. Ben soon realised that demand is high for mobile tyre fitting services that don’t charge a premium for call out. Ben was able to achieve such early growth as a result of providing excellent customer service at no extra cost and offering a next or in some cases a same day service.

Ben’s dedication to growing the business through local marketing activities is one of the key factors to his success. He has built up excellent local brand awareness and has seen a strong return on investment from activities such as local leafleting and location specific online advertising. These local marketing activities are further supported by Head Office with the production of brand specific collateral, advice and national marketing campaigns. “The support that the Head Office team give me with sales and marketing has really helped me to drive the business forward” confirms Ben.

“The national sales team allow me to be out on the road whilst still taking new bookings.” The etyres national sales team operates seven days a week delivering sales to Franchise Owners as a result of advising customers on the correct tyres, booking jobs and ordering the tyres for the Franchise Owners. On average the Cambridge territory deals with over 80 customers a week, this places the brand at, or near the top of our etyres national ‘most tyres per van’ ranking. “The business opportunities have meant that I have had to employ extra staff and add an extra two vans to my fleet to deal with demand. I have seen the benefits that can be achieved and look forward to continuing my relationship with etyres.”

From the outset what originally attracted Ben and his family to etyres was the potential for growth, combined with on-going training and support from the Head Office team and Operations Managers. Over the years Ben has found the business to be recession proof because everyone will at some stage need new tyres, and with more than 34 million vehicles on the road this provides a steady stream of business. With two additional vans Ben can currently only reach an average of 2% of his target demographic households within his region. This means he has plenty of scope to further expand if he continues at his current rate and the etyres Head Office and operations team will be there every step of the way to offer advice and assistance.

Revive! franchisee goes for gold

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August 2012 will go down in UK history as the month that team GB did the country proud in the Olympics – and for Cambridge businessman Nathan Holmes it also marked his own personal achievement -smashing the company’s national record for monthly sales!

Nathan from Huntingdon set up Revive! Cambridge five years ago, a mobile repair service specialising in repairing minor scuffs and scrapes to vehicle bodywork and alloy wheels. He started with just one van and now there are five on the road. In August the company carried out £34,500 worth of work for local car dealerships, fleet management companies and private motorists.

He said:“ Month by month I could see the sales figure rising, but even I was staggered when I realised that we were heading for our biggest total ever, beating the previous month’s figures by over £10,000.”

Revive! has the largest network of smart repairers in the UK and has its own IMI accredited training centre. Each technician owns his own business covering 105 regions throughout the country. The previous record was held by Revive! Luton for achieving sales of £29,500 in a single month.

From the beginning Nathan knew he wanted to build a business not just be a one man band. His strategy for growth saw him adding another van and technician each year and three months ago recruited a business development manager to drive expansion.

Revive! Cambridge carries out work for most of the major car dealerships in the area and has just added the Bentley Dealership to its customer list. Whilst most of the work comes from garages around 20% of the team’s time is spent repairing minor scuffs and scrapes for private motorists who have heard about their outstanding service.

Nathan continued: “It’s not just luck – we have all worked extremely hard to ensure that the business grows through reputation. Customer service and quality of work is the key to our success. I make it my policy to speak with customers properly, and train my technicians to do the same. Our work has to be of the highest quality, and everyone knows that I will be checking on jobs to make sure that standards are maintained. If I am not happy with the work that has been carried out we’ll do it again, and people know that.

He added: “I am incredibly proud of my team, Adrian Holmes, Stuart Lavender, Ollie Hine and Andy Blackhurst. We’re officially the best in the country – and plan to stay in that top slot for the foreseeable future!”

Smart (small to medium area repair technique) repair is a quality, cost effective and time-saving alternative to taking the vehicle to a bodyshop for minor paintwork repairs. Costing far less than most insurance policy excesses, the work is carried out at a time and place to suit the customer, minimising vehicle downtime and protecting the owner’s no claims bonus.

Creativity and your own business with Barrett & Coe!

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Name: Gregg Smith
Location: Welwyn (Hertfordshire)
Franchise: Studio (Part time)

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose your franchise?
I liked the fact that there was continued support not only from Barrett and Coe with comprehensive training and continuous advice but also from the network of other franchisees

What did you do before taking up a franchise?
I am a fully qualified teacher having taught for two years and secondary school and a further 10 at a HE College.

How did you raise the finance?
Saving hard and also support and help from family.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
I opted for the easy track method that Barrett and Coe offers as it allowed me to develop my photography skills at a comfortable pace and the way the training is set up it also meant that I could completed the training days at weekends when I was available and also gave me time to study and complete the homework/assignments which were set which was enjoyable.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
At the moment I am devoting my weekends to the business so its hard work but fun. With me currently working full time lecturing my admin is completed in the evenings (Fire up calls, letters sent out and image editing etc) and then I complete shoots on the Saturday and viewings on the Sunday which seems to be working at the moment but I am definitely looking to begin to start my own marketing and setting up local partnerships with suitable companies.

What challenges have you faced?
It’s all a challenge, so if you’re not ready for that stop reading now. I have never had my own business so even small details are tough to get to grips with when your used to just turning up for work and not worrying about keeping accounts, generating new business and dealing with everything linked to the photography but again I have always been someone who likes new challenges so this is another set in the direction of becoming a successful new business. I think one piece of info I would give to anyone looking to start up is be patient and be committed. Its easy to sometimes think it’s all too much but the saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ definitely springs to mind with photography.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
At the moment I would say yes and I don’t have any free time as I am working two jobs, but it’s the long term I looking forward to when I have got the studio to where I want it to be and I am in control of my own destiny.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise? Take your time, think about the area you wish to work in, ensure you have the finances to make the step and speak to other franchisees to get a view from the coal face. It’s also important that you have support from those around you (Friends and Family) as it will put you under increased pressure no matter what way you tackle taking on a new business.

What are your plans for the future?
To keep working hard to further develop both my business acumen, and photography skills to lead me to running a very successful photography studio.

Would you do it again?
Its been a lot more challenging than expected, but so far so good and its exciting times ahead and if you can make a business work in the current economic climate then things can only surely get better so a definite YES!

New set of skills achieved by etyres franchisee

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Franchisee: Matt McElhinney
Territory: Ipswich
Franchise: etyres

Matt McElhinney achieved his personal and financial goals by owning his own business by the time he was 30, when he launched his etyres branch in Ipswich.

A former insurance broker, Matt has worked hard, closely following the etyres system, and his high level of repeat customers adds greatly to the capital value of his business.

Matt said: “I went down the franchise route due to the fact it has a much higher chance of success than starting a new business.

“I chose etyres because everybody needs tyres and I believed that if you offer a decent service at a decent price, saving people time and money, you would soon get a good loyal customer base.”

Matt was very organised in his approach to starting his business. He spoke to existing Franchise Owners and spent a day with a branch. Then he drew up a business plan.

His next step was to arrange finance. Matt explained: “I approached Natwest as they have a specialist franchise lending department.

“They read my business plan, knew I was serious and because etyres is well known to them, they lent me the necessary funds within 15 minutes.”

“The on-going support has been great and there is always someone at the end of a phone when I need it.

“Starting an etyres business has definitely changed my life. It has given me a set of skills that mean I can run a business from start to finish.

“I have learnt every aspect of running a business and what it takes to make it successful. I will be able to apply these skills and this work ethic to any future endeavours.

“Now my plans for the future are to build up my business so it is a valuable asset. The immediate future plan is to carry on providing exceptional service to my customers and increasing the reputation of etyres in my area.

“I am very happy I made this career choice, the on-going support from etyres has been great – I would definitely make the same decision again.”

 

Doctor brings big business experience to Hertfordshire SMEs

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Successful businessman Kevin Blissett is launching a second Business Doctors office in Hertfordshire to provide advice and assistance to small and medium-sized businesses in the mid-Hertfordshire area.

Working alongside existing Business Doctor Georgie Cox, who launched the first Hertfordshire office in October last year, Kevin will work with businesses in St Albans, Hatfield, Harpenden and Potters Bar and the surrounding areas.

Business Doctors is a national organisation, providing expert, friendly, practical support and advice to small and medium-sized businesses. From strategies for sales and profit growth to people engagement and help with accessing funding and financial support, it provides businesses with proven methodologies for success.

Working from a central office in St Albans, Kevin brings with him many years of experience working with the likes of Vodaphone, Citigroup, Xerox, Dell, IBM and Sun Microsystems as well as a number of smaller companies.

He says: “No matter what the size of your business, there are proven processes that lead to long term growth and prosperity. What Business Doctors does is to provide these processes within a structure that I have seen be hugely successful with all businesses looking to get on the right track to success.

“By setting up a Business Doctors office in St Albans and servicing the mid-Hertfordshire area I’m hoping to put something back into my local area, working with young businesses or older businesses seeking to adapt to new times.”

Photo: Business Doctor Kevin Blissett

Confident in the success of TaxAssist Franchise

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David Dixon
Colchester, Bishop’s Stortford & Ipswich
January 2011
 
I am a qualified Chartered Management Accountant and prior to joining TaxAssist Accountants worked as a Group Financial Controller for a large motor dealership group based in Colchester. Prior to that I had many years experience within the small company sector including several years as a director of the family motor dealership business. I also spent a year working in the Stock Exchange following qualification.
 
 I joined TaxAssist Accountants in November 2002 opening my first shop in October 2005.  I opened my second in 2007, based purely on the success of my first shop.  I opened my third shop in 2010 and I am now planning to open my fourth shop in the autumn. I’ve found that the shop front produces pretty much all the volume of new business that we can handle, putting the business in its best position yet.
 
In response to the increase of business I now employ five full-time accountants and an administrator between the three shop fronts.  I was initially wary of taking on people unless absolutely necessary but I found that it’s clearly the way to go if you want to grow your business.  The last thing I want is to have to turn business away so to cope with demand and to maintain good client service the team is absolutely essential.
 
With three shop fronts, it’s important to put some thought into how to manage both at the same time.  I have now appointed a manager to run the Bishop’s Stortford shop front and I am based in Colchester. The third and fourth shop fronts will run on a leaner basis as satellites of the two main business, with one person dealing with clients’ accounts day to day, letting me come in two days a week. I expect the new shop front to grow steadily and when the time’s right I expect I’ll take on a couple more employees in relation to the amount of business.  The rate of development with TaxAssist Accountants is very fast – there’s a great deal of potential there for franchisees.
 
As my business has grown, I’ve continued to make use of the training and support on offer from the Norwich based Support Centre.  TaxAssist Accountants have provided me with an incredibly comprehensive training package that included a five-week course that focused on all aspects of running a business. The training taught me new approaches to accounting while reinforcing what I already knew.  It gave me the confidence that I would be able to bring success to the business - refocusing my existing skills to ensure I had a full understanding of the TaxAssist Accountants model.
 
I was initially attracted to TaxAssist Accountants because of the significant support – the whole package is incredibly solid and I found it very reassuring.  In fact, since I launched the business in 2002, in many ways the support has kept on getting better.  TaxAssist Accountants are dedicated to their franchisees and their advice and guidance is very clear, to the point and incredibly helpful.
 
I can now report that at Winter 2010 I have a total client base of over 800 with a turnover of around £500k. Net growth in fee bank continues at a steady pace.
 
 

gas-elec franchise weathers the recession

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The gas-elec group has again bucked the trend and has risen unscathed out of the current economic climate.
 
“If you don’t adjust to the changes taking place in the world around you then you run the risk of falling behind the game and not keeping abreast of the changing needs of your customers,” says John Davidson, managing director of the gas-elec group.
 
Nick Morton, gas-elec regional manager for East Anglia, confirms that the business is “recession-resilient” and expects this year’s turnover figure to exceed what he originally targeted. In fact, Nick’s region is delivering business that is increasing exponentially month-on-month and he is continually having to adjust his monthly targets “in a good way”.
 
Nick manages one of gas-elec’s 18 regional offices situated across the UK. For 14 years this national safety inspection company has provided statutory combined gas and electrical safety inspections to the lettings market, as well as homeowners. This year the company will carry out 120,000 inspections throughout the UK and needs more skilled and semi-skilled people to train as gas-elec safety inspectors.
 
Business was up 11% across the franchise network in Q1 2009 and during the heart of this recession – October 2008 to May 2009 – gas-elec recorded a massive 9.4% growth, which can be attributed to the increase in the lettings market during this period (a large part of our business is generated here).
 
“It is actually difficult to set targets at the moment because the market is so good; we just can’t tell what our figures are going to be.”
 
Nick puts this down to a number of factors. He is getting more quality business out of his existing customer base and he doesn’t see the current boom in lettings stopping any time soon.
 
“There is some talk within the market that the UK may turn more towards letting than buying, like France and Germany, so we see our business going from strength to strength. In fact, it is predicted that the lettings market will double in the coming ten years. When the homeowner market recovers, gas-elec has products available – such as energy certificates. Really it’s no longer just about gas and electrical services – it’s about supplying an all-round service and the companies that supply the best service get most of the business,” says John.
 
Gas-elec has a long-established reputation with clients who know that they can depend on the impartiality of the reports. They also know that we offer competitive deals, such as the recently launched gas-elec’s g-warm+ deal.
 
The gas-elec franchise is a two-tier franchise with regional management franchisees and safety inspection working together in partnership in their various areas. Ongoing business support for all franchisees includes sales and marketing, appointment making, centralised invoicing and credit control, bookkeeping and IT support.

gas-elec franchise weathers the recession

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The gas-elec group has again bucked the trend and has risen unscathed out of the current economic climate.
 
“If you don’t adjust to the changes taking place in the world around you then you run the risk of falling behind the game and not keeping abreast of the changing needs of your customers,” says John Davidson, managing director of the gas-elec group.
 
Nick Morton, gas-elec regional manager for East Anglia, confirms that the business is “recession-resilient” and expects this year’s turnover figure to exceed what he originally targeted. In fact, Nick’s region is delivering business that is increasing exponentially month-on-month and he is continually having to adjust his monthly targets “in a good way”.
 
Nick manages one of gas-elec’s 18 regional offices situated across the UK. For 14 years this national safety inspection company has provided statutory combined gas and electrical safety inspections to the lettings market, as well as homeowners. This year the company will carry out 120,000 inspections throughout the UK and needs more skilled and semi-skilled people to train as gas-elec safety inspectors.
 
Business was up 11% across the franchise network in Q1 2009 and during the heart of this recession – October 2008 to May 2009 – gas-elec recorded a massive 9.4% growth, which can be attributed to the increase in the lettings market during this period (a large part of our business is generated here).
 
“It is actually difficult to set targets at the moment because the market is so good; we just can’t tell what our figures are going to be.”
 
Nick puts this down to a number of factors. He is getting more quality business out of his existing customer base and he doesn’t see the current boom in lettings stopping any time soon.
 
“There is some talk within the market that the UK may turn more towards letting than buying, like France and Germany, so we see our business going from strength to strength. In fact, it is predicted that the lettings market will double in the coming ten years. When the homeowner market recovers, gas-elec has products available – such as energy certificates. Really it’s no longer just about gas and electrical services – it’s about supplying an all-round service and the companies that supply the best service get most of the business,” says John.
 
Gas-elec has a long-established reputation with clients who know that they can depend on the impartiality of the reports. They also know that we offer competitive deals, such as the recently launched gas-elec’s g-warm+ deal.
 
The gas-elec franchise is a two-tier franchise with regional management franchisees and safety inspection working together in partnership in their various areas. Ongoing business support for all franchisees includes sales and marketing, appointment making, centralised invoicing and credit control, bookkeeping and IT support.

Seeing the great potential in purchasing a Driver Hire franchise

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George Griffiths could be described as an all-rounder. A qualified Accountant; he’s also got an Honours Degree in Chemistry. Originally from New Zealand, he settled in the UK and used his accountancy skills working for a number of motor dealerships. “I guess you could say that I had one redundancy too many,” says George. “That was when I decided it was time to work for myself.”
 
There’s no better advertising than a recommendation. And that’s what introduced George to both the idea of franchising and Driver Hire. One of his good friends was – and still is – Dave Quinn, owner of Driver Hire’s Chelmsford franchise.  He suggested George take a look at Driver Hire. He liked what he saw – both at Driver Hire and franchising in general. “I looked at a number of other franchises, but settled on Driver Hire. The final decision, as much as anything else, came down to the fact that it was a people business. I wanted to get out of the accountant’s back office role and into the front line.”
 
In the end, George purchased a ‘turnaround’ situation.  The franchise in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich had been doing over £1m a year but when I looked at the business it was well down on this. I reckoned that if it had been there before, it was possible to get it back. In other words I saw plenty of potential.”
 
Working alongside his wife Jacqui and with two other members of staff, he’s certainly turned things around in a big way. During a strong summer 2009 performance, despite an unhelpful economy they achieved a record weekly turnover and the Bury-based business is now well on target to return to its former glories.
 
So, two years down the line, what does George reckon you need to make a success of a Driver Hire franchise?  ”It can certainly be a demanding business - I once spent an awful lot of time finding a driver for a job that would only make about £15 profit. But it was a customer I wanted to do business with long-term, so I reckoned it was time well spent.   I think a lot of the success is down to the individual franchisee’s desire and motivation. But I also have a lot of help from Driver Hire’s support staff, particularly in those early days when you really need it. Getting the right staff helps too, as does a good grasp of the numbers, so financially you know how you are doing. And, finally, you need to be a good relationship-builder; not afraid of talking to people, understanding their businesses and influencing their purchasing decisions.” 

Find your destiny with Countrywide Signs franchise

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Countrywide Signs franchise is “highly recommended
 
A decade on from launching their business and franchisees Martin and Angela Attwood are thriving, with their Countrywide Signs franchise generating a six-figure turnover.
 
The downturn in the housing market has not affected business for Countrywide Signs franchisees Martin and Angela Attwood (pictured right). Since the couple launched their Newmarket-based franchise in July 1998 the business has experienced year-on-year growth and in 2007 the couple enjoyed a turnover of £150,000.
 
With the estate agents’ demand for the supply, erection and maintenance of ‘For Sale’ signs unfaltering, Martin and Angela are confident they will reach their targets outlined for this year. “We decided to invest in a franchise when we moved from London to the Newmarket area,” reflects
Martin. “Initially I intended to continue running the landscaping business I had established in
London. However, I soon realised that there was not the market for this service in Newmarket and so researched different business ventures.
 
“The notion of franchising appealed because we believed joining a national brand would enable us to establish and grow a new business quickly. Countrywide Signs caught my eye in The Franchise Magazine because as a van-based ‘For Sale’ sign supply, erection and maintenance company I would have the freedom to continue working outside. The fact the company is a full British Franchise Association member was also attractive.”
 
After meeting the management team Martin and Angela launched their franchise. As part of the franchise package they were put on a nine-day training course, which covered the theory, practice and marketing aspects of running the business. Since then, the couple has received ongoing training as the business has moved forward in terms of new products, systems and ideas.
 
Martin and Angela also have access to a support network. “The support is excellent,” enthuses Martin. “The franchise team has three departments: sales, operations/IT and administration who are always on the other end of the phone if you need them.  I have found the IT systems beneficial because they allow clients to send work directly to my computer and sort out my job sheets and invoicing automatically. While I am a firm believer that you get out of life what you put in, the Countrywide Signs franchise team are working hard behind the scenes to benefit all 57 franchisees’ businesses within the network.
 
“Running your own business is satisfying both in terms of income and knowing you are in control of your destiny. I love the fact my wife and I have built up the business to the point where we can support our family comfortably. We have a nice car and are in a position to offer our children a better lifestyle.
I would highly recommend a Countrywide Signs franchise to anyone who enjoys working outdoors and wants to be the master of their own destiny.”
 
With two vans on the road generating their present income, Martin and Angela plan to become more involved in other aspects of signage over the next 12 months especially within the growing commercial market.

Supported every step of the way with Belvoir franchising

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“I’ve felt supported every step of the way,”
says Luke Mason of Belvoir Hitchin
 
Six months ago Luke and Jonathan Mason launched Belvoir Hitchin. Here, Luke looks at his journey from the opening morning to the present day…
 
“On 1st December 2008 I opened Belvoir Hitchin, with my cousin Jonathan - and I haven’t looked back,” says Luke. “It was quite scary as I’d never done anything similar before but I was eager to get on with it.
 
“Before this I worked with my dad doing car sales – I enjoyed it but wanted to open my own business. I came across Belvoir on the internet. I made a call and met the sales director, Dorian Gonsalves. The great support structure that Belvoir provide and the friendliness of the company was obvious and the way they did business really appealed to me – I knew that it was the right opportunity.
 
“I didn’t know anything about the lettings market so the three-week training course that Belvoir provide for all new Franchise Owners at Central Office in Grantham was invaluable. It taught me everything - from how to open a shop and manage a property to the ins and outs of lettings’ law. Without doubt the training was essential and helped Jonathan and I move forward with confidence.
 
“Belvoir’s support didn’t stop there - there’s been plenty of help and advice since we launched and throughout our first six months. For the first month Central Office gave us a weekly call to check on our progress, plus made it clear we could call them whenever we needed. They’ve also kept us informed as to what’s going on in the lettings industry and provided instant updates of any legislation changes. There’s plenty of organised networking with other offices too, including a three-monthly meeting between offices in each region.
 
“My life has changed a lot since opening Belvoir Hitchin but I’ve felt completely supported every step of the way. The first six months have been amazing. It’s hard work but it’s really opened my eyes to the potential of the lettings market, plus reinforced my original thoughts about Belvoir being such a strong brand.
“I’m a people’s person and thoroughly enjoying meeting landlords and tenants - I know that property management is definitely for me and the business has gone from strength-to-strength too…
 
“We’ve taken on, plus let, many properties – in fact, one of them was being marketed by seven agents but we managed to let it first. We’ve taken on a full-time property manager, and hope to employ more staff within the next six months. And, we were ranked within the top one hundred of the Belvoir group within two months of trading.
“I’m really proud of myself for going for it – my only regret is I didn’t do it sooner!”

Made redundant? Consider franchising an option

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Russell Golding, 40, lives in Maulden in Bedfordshire with his wife, Sally, and two children, Charlotte, 10 and George 8. Russell worked for Reuters in the City for 13 years selling financial information, software and hardware to financial institutions, when in August 2003 he was unexpectedly made redundant. Here Russell gives some insight into his experience of redundancy.
 
How did you feel when you were made redundant? What impact did it have on you at the time?
 
Russell says: “It was a very black time and a very traumatic few months as my father had also just died. Luckily I had the luxury to be able to take 9 months out to think about what to do with my life. I had a young family and had been leaving home at 6.30am every day, commuting 1.5 hours to work and not returning until 7:00pm on a good day. If I was entertaining clients it would be gone midnight before I got home.”
 
“Being made redundant gave me the breathing space to look at my lifestyle and make some changes.”
 
Had you always wanted to run your own business?
 
“I knew I wanted to set up my own business but I couldn’t come up with a unique business idea that I felt could work for me, so I decided to look at existing businesses and that led me to franchising.”
 
What led you to franchising and in particular to Recognition Express?
 
“At that time there were about 700 franchises in the UK so I narrowed it down to those that interested me and that might fit with my new lifestyle choice and I came across Recognition Express, who at the time was franchise of the year. I went to see them all, and some franchisees, for firsthand knowledge. Over two months I whittled it down to one – Recognition Express.”
 
When and how did you start trading?
 
“We started trading in March 2004. Initially my wife and I worked together but after nine months we both decided that we didn’t want to work together – it just didn’t work. It works brilliantly now as she has gone back into corporate employment to work. So, for the first 3-4 years it was just me covering the Cambridge area. I was able to work from home and spend some time with my kids. I was only of only a few fathers at the school gates!”
 
“This year, in January I purchased an existing franchise in Kettering covering an additional 6 territories. I now manage 9 members of staff.”
 
How is business going?
 
“Year on year sales are up by 20% and that’s in a recession. There’s no recession in our office! We’re getting a regular stream of enquiries coming through to us each day, both from our existing client base as well as from new prospects. I’m putting this success down to the fact that we are going the extra mile for our clients and offering a great level of customer service.”
 
Russell adds: “Some of our competitors have disappeared and as a result we’re picking up enquiries and business from them too. I see the next 12 months as a huge opportunity to grow the business further.”
 
Looking back how do you feel about your decision?
 
“With hindsight I think it’s the best thing that could have happened. I had a young family but I wasn’t seeing them. The way things worked out meant that I got to see them grow up and spent quality time with them. It was a blessing in disguise.”
 
What advice would you give to someone who has just been made redundant?
 
“It is never as black as you think it is – look on the bright side. Get out there and do the research, physically visiting franchisors and franchisees. The franchise exhibitions are great because you can get a lot of research done in one day.”
 
“You either want to work for yourself or you don’t. Deep down, if someone has the entrepreneurial spirit I would encourage them to look at franchising. Many people are not quite the professional entrepreneur, but they also don’t always want to be an employee either. They are sitting in that middle tier, in roles that don’t make them very happy but afraid to move because of the security.”
 
“My advice is to be brave, don’t stay in a job that you don’t enjoy. Nothing much will change in your life, unless you make some changes to your life. Get out there and see what’s available in the franchising world, you may just be pleasantly surprised!”
 
Contact details for Russell Golding: tel: 01536 5227800 Mobile: 07830 294256; Russell.golding @recognitionexpress-hcn.com
 
The total cost of a Recognition Express franchise is £30,000 + VAT – so personal funding on only £10,000 is required.

Lucky streak with Servicemaster franchise

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Mike Hudson
Contract Services - Servicemaster Clean franchise
Peterborough Franchisee
 
I have been a Servicemaster licensee for just over two years now. I had previously worked for a large and reputable department store group for some 30 years. During that time I held a number of selling management posts before becoming a facilities manager for one of their stores. In that time I met with cleaning contractors…. And thought to myself if ever I left the company I could do that!!
 
I had considered a franchise from the outset, as it seemed the safe way to pursue running my own business. With the comfort of a regular income for thirty years in a reputable company I was looking for as much security as I could find in taking the plunge.
 
Luck brought me to Servicemaster franchise. A local newspaper ad saw the CS license up for sale.
 
ServiceMaster quickly provided me with all the facts and figures required and put me in touch with a number of nearby franchisees. It was after visiting the second of these neighbors I drove back home, and in that time decided to commit. The process then was simple and straightforward and within weeks I was a director in my own company…. Wow!
 
The things I love are:
  • Being in control of my own destiny
  • The freedom from the old 9 - 5 regime
  • No commuting
  • Making more use of my core skill of selling
  • A greater risk but with greater rewards…. If you do it well!
 
Servicemaster give excellent support to the newcomer. However the greatest benefit is the network of people running the same type of business around the country. Everybody is so helpful when you call for assistance and support.
 
The business has co directors, myself and my wife Lindsey. Her skills have always been in business administration and so there is plenty to keep her occupied.
 
What you must remember though it is a cleaning business. If you have any hang ups about cleaning toilets or dusting etc then think seriously about what you are doing. Both Lindsey and myself are quite naturally clean and tidy and therefore our business standards are a simple extension of those we bring to our own home.

Part of the TruGreen franchise family

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Tony Lawrence
 

TruGreen Franchisee
Hertfordshire

 
 
 
"In finding an advert for lawn-care franchise TruGreen in a national newspaper, I unwittingly found the future business I would run together with my son.
 
When I saw the TruGreen franchise opportunity it immediately grabbed my attention In fact, I had no intention at the time of looking to invest in a franchise, but the TruGreen concept really interested me.
 
At the time, I was working in financial services and my son was about to finish his A-levels: My son has always wanted to work outdoors It was something that was very important to him, so I thought that this would be brilliant opportunity for him to start his working life.
 
After speaking to TruGreen, we found the business concept appealed even further and our Hertfordshire franchise business was launched in 2004.
 
My son received plentiful and comprehensive training. There was a lot to take in but it covered everything from marketing plans to banking to product knowledge to lawn-care itself. With an effective initial marketing campaign, I was delighted when work started coming in straight away. However, the business started to grow quickly and was going so well that I decided to join my son in running the business
 
I was planning to wind down my career but the TruGreenfranchise business was going from strength to strength. Taking on a behind the scenes role in their home based business, I left my son to do what he loves - getting outside to do his work while meeting new people everyday. Whilst enjoying our independence and ability to work on our own terms.
 
I also benefit from Trugreens continual support: They give us good advice and are always there at the end of the phone should we need them. Now advertising in the local press, as well as sponsoring a youth golf tournament, I am positive that the business will continue its success:
 
The business benefits from a very high level of customer referrals and this is only going to get better. With my younger son planning to work with us in the near future, our TruGreen franchise is turning into a real family business."

The Success of the Eastern Express

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Alan John
Eastern England

Why did you choose Recognition Express?

I was in my mid-40’s and had spent over two decades in corporate life. The prospect of being in much greater control of my life - including sleeping in my own bed - was appealing. Recognition Express was affordable, consistent with my considerable experience of business-to-business marketing and sales, and gave me an opportunity to develop and express my interest in graphic design.

How have you found the training and support given by Recognition Express?

The initial training was competent, but that was almost 14 years ago! The world has changed considerably since then and Recognition Express has developed both its product range and business methods to reflect and sometimes anticipate changing needs and requirements.

How was your first year in business?

The first year in business was not easy. There were lots of details to address that had not been a feature of my earlier career; and there were few quick and easy hits. By the end of the year we had begun to settle into a pattern of activity that led in the right direction.

How do you see your business progressing?

There are now seven of us, operating from a modern premises on an industrial estate. We print and manufacture name badges, T-shirts, mugs, Braille and tactile signs, banner stands, etc. and provide a ‘one-stop shop’ for all kinds of branded products. We have established a pattern of consistent, profitable trading based on responding quickly and relevantly to our customers’ needs and desires. We would not be human if we did not fear that this pattern might be interrupted next month - so we keep working on it and anticipate continued double digit annual growth percentages.

Do you have any advice to anybody considering Recognition Express as a franchise?

Recognition Express provides good marketing support and materials but these are no substitute for a strong personal commitment to making and maintaining effective contacts with prospective customers. No new business is successfully launched without lots of appropriate activity and great attention to detail.

Aiming to be most professional letting agent in Colchester

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“I worked in the banking industry for nearly 20 years and a redundancy in 2003 gave me a fabulous opportunity to review my future. I looked at various franchising options, after realising that starting a business on your own could be a very isolating experience.

After several months of research and talking with other franchisees I chose Martin & Co.

I went through an extensive training programme and on the first days of my launch in 2003, the Operations Director from Martin & Co spent time with me in the business to meet my first customers and offer valuable techniques and advice aimed at maximising future profitability.

There is superb ongoing support from the company, including coaching calls, regional business meetings and training refresher courses.

Martin & Co has a strong brand name and I am well on the way to my goal of being the most professional letting agent in Colchester.”

Two awards for Belvoir franchise owners

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Terry Lucking, Belvoir’s Peterborough franchisee, has received two accolades in the franchise’s recent awards. Announcing his achievements, Belvoir co-founder and CEO, Mike Goddard, said: “Terry’s success has been incredible – his is the fastest overall development in our history. His business has grown consistently by 40 per cent per annum.

Mike Goddard continued: “With energy and passion, Terry has also proactively taken great interest in the development of the network, which now has 97 outlets. He has twice been chairman of our franchisees’ Networking Group covering more than four years and is making another significant contribution to franchising as a representative on the bfa’s Franchisee Forum. Terry also serves on the committee of The Guild of Lettings and Management.”

Terry became a franchisee in 1999 after a career in the food industry spanning 22 years. He was a director of two major plcs before being headhunted to become managing director of a £25 million turnover family farming business in Cambridge.

When the family were invited to sell, Terry headed a management buy-out but lost to a competitive bid. He resigned and decided to look for a new challenge in a completely different industry, embarking on extensive research into many different types of business and opportunity, including franchising.

While he was thinking about what to do long term, he developed and successfully sold on a small chain of travel shops and a vegetable processing business. He also operated as a debt mediator for six months.

Terry was not interested in manufacturing because of the huge capital costs involved in setting up from scratch. He recognised his talents lay in managing businesses and driving them forward. He said: “I wanted to be in a positive industry that was expanding, not consolidating – or contracting - and where people are valued for their skills and abilities.”

Having researched franchising and compared it to other start-up options, Terry concluded that it was the safest route to being self-employed with optimum opportunity to make money from a relatively modest investment. He commented: “Franchising offers a fast start in business. I didn’t want to waste time setting up and trialling my own systems. That’s the beauty of franchising – someone has done it all before, so it’s tried and tested.”

He narrowed down his choice of possible franchises and investigated those specialising in property. In late l998 he met Belvoir’s Mike Goddard and set up an exhaustive interview with him. “I asked a lot of searching questions,” Terry explained. “This had to be a two way interview because I needed to have confidence in the organisation where I was about to invest a considerable sum of money. “I made a decision quickly to go ahead. My training with Belvoir was extremely thorough and enabled me to make a quick entry into the business. Once I began trading I appreciated the enormous value of Belvoir’s on-going support, especially their bespoke legal advice line and the website,” Terry added.

He opened his outlet early in 1999. Working in a small business was a shock after a large corporate culture where he had two secretaries and someone to manage the diary. Suddenly Terry was thrust into an environment where he had to use a computer and learn to multi-task.

“Seven years on we now employ nine people,” Terry said. “Two of my stepsons are involved in the business and my wife Liz shares my passion, vision and energy for property. In fact, one son, Luke, has the distinction of being the UK’s youngest landlord, making his first buy-to-let investment when he was just 18.”

Terry is now in phase three of his franchise’s plan with a growing portfolio of over 510 properties in Peterborough, surrounding market towns and local villages. He enthuses: “Property is a fast growing sector as the demand for private rented homes continues to increase, for a variety of reasons. The business has the benefit of requiring personal involvement and hence great personal satisfaction. It also has the advantage that no one customer represents more than 5 per cent of the business.”

Terry continued: “The last seven years have opened my eyes to just how much money can be made from property. I was too busy in my former life to see outside of the plc box!”

Annual Conference has largest turnout on record for Norwich Franchisor

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TaxAssist Accountants, the UK’s leading accountancy and taxation service for small businesses reaches its 10th Anniversary and celebrates in style.

TaxAssist Accountants, based on Thorpe Road in Norwich celebrated its 10th Anniversary at its Annual Conference held on the 11 November in the Midlands. The Conference attracted the largest turnout ever of its national network of accountants with over 300 franchisees, sponsors and branded service partners in attendance.

TaxAssist Accountants is the largest network of accountants in the UK offering a range of services specifically matched to the needs of small business. Services range from the completion of end of year accounts and annual tax returns to payroll, VAT and bookkeeping. This is further complemented by additional services designed to help small business owners maximise their financial position including debt recovery, independent financial advice and personnel (HR) services.

The Annual Conference, consisted of an upbeat motivational afternoon conference followed by a formal black tie Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony. The awards were presented to winners by Sandi Toksvig, comedienne and author.

Karl Sandall, Chief Executive comments

"We were delighted to celebrate our 10th anniversary in style. We are confidently building our reputation as a "one stop shop for small business" all over the UK, centred around a professional and value for money accounting and taxation service."

CHELMSFORD CLEANER WINS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

largesafeclean_geraint.gif A Chelmsford man providing specialist cleaning to homes throughout South Essex has won a national 'Lifetime Achievement’ award.

Geraint Williams, who has owned a Safeclean franchise for over 20 years, won the award at the company’s annual conference. Geraint initially set up his Safeclean franchise after leaving his role as an internal auditor in 1982.

Geraint became a Safeclean franchisee after deciding that he wanted to run his own business. Since he began at the company he has seen many changes take place.

"I can remember originally cleaning carpets and furnishings with a sea sponge we then gradually moved on to newer more impressive technologies like the industrial machinery that you see today. I've also seen the introduction of Guardsman products which remove stains with little or no fuss and warranty packages that help protect customer’s furnishings for longer."

Now running the business with his wife Debbie, the couple concentrate on the planning, marketing and quoting side of the business, with a further three full time operatives looking after the actual cleaning and working in the office. With four children to look after and entertain, Ffion, Megan, Rhys and Rhian, this extra help is crucial: “I run a tight ship with good sociable hours so I can fit in holidays and quality time with my family!" says Geraint.

Geraint is no stranger to awards. In previous years he has won ‘Franchisee of the Year as well as the ‘Safeclean Gold Technical Excellence Award'.

"I'm really proud to have won this latest award," admits Geraint. "It means so much to be recognised by your peers and I hope that I can continue to provide a great cleaning service to the people of the Chelmsford area".

Safeclean’s national awards cover a number of different categories in furnishings and upholstery. Safeclean's Director of Operations, Paul Roberts believes the awards show the high quality of work carried out by franchisees: "These awards illustrate the depth of knowledge of our franchisees and the specialist skills used in a Safeclean service.

"Every franchisee that wins one deserves it for their commitment to excellence and continued desire to help Safeclean retain it’s position as the market leader in the cleaning of domestic furnishings and upholstery."

Safeclean currently has a range of opportunities available in Kings Lynn, the South West, Wales, Scotland, Doncaster, Chester, Halifax. If you think that you have what it takes to succeed as a Safeclean franchisee or you would like more information about the business please call 01235 444705 or visit www.safeclean.co.uk.

Historic town receives face lift

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Sign and graphics specialists Signs Express (Kings Lynn) have recently been involved in several key signage projects in the historic town of King’s Lynn, commissioned as part of the regeneration of the area and in celebration of King’s Lynn’s 800th anniversary.

Signs Express were commissioned by Alfred McAlpine Special Projects to supply and install new signage featuring the town’s historic crest onto two towers of the newly completed St James’ multi-storey car park. Spanning over 1.5m in height, the crests are made from bespoke moulded Glass Fibre with hand painted detailing and gilded with 23.5 carat gold leaf. The individual lettering spanning an area of nearly 2.4m in height x 2.0m in width was created using 5mm black acrylic and both were installed using non ferrous brass studs chemically bonded though 30mm thick Terracotta tiles and into the concrete structure of the building.

The crests were covered until the official unveiling by the Mayor of King’s Lynn on 17th October. Signs Express (King’s Lynn) owner Mike Snow said, “As the only multistorey car park in King’s Lynn, it’s a very prominent building and one which is at the heart of the regeneration programme for the area. As such, the development required signage which reflected the prominence of the building and uses the crest to keep the historic nature of the town combined with cutting edge design and construction of the building. We are very proud of the finished signage”.

He continued, “Such projects which use a unique combination of skills are fairly unusual and combined with the working height in excess of 10.0m raised a number of challenges”.

The leading sign company was also commissioned to provide 100 full colour digitally printed banners for The Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, each 1.6m x 0.6m, which were displayed on the southern and northern approaches to the town to celebrate the town’s 800th anniversary. Each Banner was full colour printed on both sides and combined the 800 years anniversary logo with individual local company logos.

Signs Express provides a complete design, manufacture and fitting service for all forms of signage and is based on the Hardwick Industrial Estate in King’s Lynn. Signs Express is a member of the British Sign & Graphics Association and Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, for further information contact 01553 761762.

Driving the Business Forward

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A Chelmsford man providing superb specialist cleaning to homes throughout South Essex is celebrating his 20th anniversary with Safeclean.

Geraint Williams left his managerial role as an internal auditor in 1982 to join the Safeclean franchise, offering cleaning and protection to carpets, curtains, rugs, upholstery and leather after deciding he wanted his own business, “I soon realized I was no good looking at figures and wasn’t cut out to be an employee, so I started looking for my own business.”

Since then Geraint has seen all the developments and progress in the franchise and in the work: “I saw all the changes, including starting with the sea sponge and moving on gradually to impressive technology” he recalls, along with the introduction of a Guardsman database, warranties and more brand marketing. Geraint firmly believes that the greater investment in advertising by head office and himself has improved his business but it is the original concept behind Safeclean that has produced the results, “I have held firmly to the belief of selling a premium cleaning service largely by quality work with resultant recommendations.”

Now running the business with his wife Debbie, the couple concentrate on the planning, marketing and quoting side of the business, with a further three full time operatives looking after the actual cleaning and working in the office. With four children to look after and entertain, Ffion (7), Megan (4), Rhys (2) and Rhian (5 months), this extra help is crucial; “I run a tight ship with good sociable hours so I can fit in holidays and quality time with my family!”

Geraint has recently been awarded the Safeclean Gold Technical Excellence Award, achieving the highest percentage in the whole franchise network. Designed by Safeclean Head Office, the awards cover a number of different furnishings and upholstery problems and services and ensure their franchisees keep up to date with the latest furnishing solutions. Safeclean General Manager Paul Roberts believes the awards show the high quality of work carried out by franchisees: “These awards illustrate the depth of knowledge of our franchisees and the specialist skills used in a Safeclean service.”

As for the future, well Geraint only sees one thing, “to drive the business even further forward, increasing the customer base by constantly improving the service.” The last twenty years have been very rewarding for Geraint, his family and his team, and he adds “there are not many days that pass where I feel any regret about taking on the franchise!”

For further information on Safeclean contact Kathy at keley@valspar.com

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