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Archive of franchising in South East England news and franchisee case studies

South East England news and case studies:

There are many successful franchise businesses in the South East of England. If you're considering becoming a franchisee in the South East of England, why not read through the case studies below and find out how these people in this area made the successful journey into franchising.

Signs Express franchise for sale in Farnborough - exclusive interview with current owner

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Name: Tim Burt
Location: Farnborough
Franchise: Signs Express
Date launched the franchise: November 2008

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your franchise? Before Signs Express I was a Royal Air Force officer for 18 years.

Why did you go down the franchise route initially? And why did you choose Signs Express franchise?
I wanted to run my own business and Signs Express provided the benefit of a quick-start with an established and successful business model.

Why have you decided to sell your business?
I would now like to pursue new business interests. Having established Signs Express (Farnborough) as a greenfield start-up during a recession, it has been satisfying starting and growing a profitable business with returning customers.

What’s the key selling points of your business?
Signs Express (Farnborough) is a growing and profitable business with returning customers. It has great further potential that a new owner can develop. The business is in a ‘as-new’ production unit, fitted-out from a shell to Signs Express specification needing no additional investment from a new-franchisee.

Using excellent production equipment and quality materials we design, manufacture and install new signs and graphics with great skill and professionalism demonstrated by the great number of returning customers. The business is located in the middle of a thriving economic area (broadly the area of Rushmoor BC, Hart DC and Surrey Heath BC) with new developments all around. In addition, there are recurring business events at the neighbouring Farnborough International show site host to the Farnborough International Airshow.

What support should the new franchisee expect to receive?
Signs Express provides full and comprehensive training and on-going support throughout the franchise period. Every new franchisee attends a 3-week training course held at franchise headquarters, where they get to meet the support team and learn all aspects of being an SX franchisee.

Signs Express will continue to give advice and training on operations, sales & marketing, finance and purchasing, online and offline brand exposure, national and regional sales lead generation, business plan development, financial reviews, central sales credit management, group purchasing power, Health & Safety, insurance compliance and new product development research.

What are the other benefits of buying a resale?
The benefits of buying Signs Express (Farnborough) are numerous, not least of which are; From Day 1 you will own a profitable and growing business. It’s also an established business with growing year-on-year turnover and profitability. The business operates from a modern production unit with no need for costly updating, already fitted-out and operational.

Experienced staff are in place and knowledgeable of the many jobs which returning customers call on. Signs Express (Farnborough) has a growing customer base who want to work with us and recommend to others our services and products, so you really can hit the ground running.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
There isn’t one, no two days are the same, that’s part of the excitement of being your own boss in a dynamic and diverse industry.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
I no longer spend weeks or months away from home or hours commuting to or from London. I now have a daily choice over my working day, the benefits I take and my rewards.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?
Consider buying an existing business that is growing and profitable so you can walk straight in and start earning from day one.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
Ensure you look after existing customers in order to realise the growth potential of the territory and develop new opportunities.

Exclusive interview with TruGreen franchisee – expanding the business into a multi-van operation

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Name: Mike Lethbridge
Location: Newbury
Franchise: TruGreen Newbury and Basingstoke
Date launched the franchise: February 2015

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your TruGreen franchise business?
My background is in IT and financial services, I wanted to be able to run a business where I able to transfer my skills in management and customer services.

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose a TruGreen franchise?
I needed to know I was investing in a company I could work with, after meeting with Steve and the team, I soon realised I would be confident in the service I was delivering with the TruGreen support team behind me.

How did you raise the finance?
Savings

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
The training I received on the two week academy gave me a lot of confidence, I was motivated and ready to start my business after my initial training. The on-going training as been great too, with marketing always happy to visit me to help grow my business and Steve always there when I need any technical support. We also have the chance to meet our TruGreen peers a couple times a year for regional meetings, which is another great source of knowledge.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
Typically my day starts quite early, I usually look at the weather first to see if there is going to be any impact on treatments that I will be applying during the course of the day, this allows me to assess which treatments need to be put onto the lawn first. I would then look at my schedule of visits for the day, finalising my schedule as this sometimes need adjusting due to weather or customers calling me prior due to availability or uncut grass! I would then be answering any emails or texts and completing any quotations from the previous day as I like to respond to customers within 48 hours of an analysis visit. All this before breakfast.

Next I load up the van with the supplies needed for the day. I may have one or two technicians working with me dependant on the work to be completed.

Once I have completed my round of scheduled jobs with maybe the one unscheduled ‘quality control’ visit if passing a lawn which has recently been treated.

My day will then consist of carrying out various tasks of weed control, aeration, scarification and fertilisation servicing between 4 to 12 clients a day. I always like to spend time with a client if they are at home, explaining what we are doing and the benefits of it. Building a rapport with customers is very important, especially when visiting their home frequently.

With the day drawing to a close it’s back home to clean the equipment, empty the van of rubbish, answer emails, update work schedules, send invoices and add new clients to the database.

It’s not a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job as clients can email or text at any time. You sometimes work that Saturday because you haven’t been able to make that last appointment however I believe flexibility is required in order to build a successful business.

What challenges have you faced?
The challenges for me have mostly been on a practical basis, firstly learning the skills required, luckily my inner geek prevailed here. Then the day to day issues, equipment breaking, temporary staff being unwell and unable to work so it becomes a case of hire it or buy it and roll your sleeves up and get on with it.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
It has given me the chance to feel real freedom in my working life, to follow through on the decisions that I feel are right for the way I want to work. It has also provided me with the flexibility to do the things I enjoy. It has also given me the opportunity to employ younger local people and have them develop their skills, enabling me to do my bit for the community.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?
Do your research, choose the right of business that suits you and your lifestyle. Don’t choose something that will just be a job which you won’t enjoy, choose something that you can be passionate about!

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
Drive and the desire to succeed, no one chooses to fail but you should have a plan on how to develop and be successful. Don’t be afraid to change or adapt if you need to.

What are your plans for the future?
To develop and expand my business. Having completed my first year and bought my second territory, I now require more staff, another van and more equipment.

Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat.

Exclusive interview with bfa Franchisee of the Year Finalist, Andy Mee, Business Doctors

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Name: Andy Mee
Location: Oxfordshire and North Buckinghamshire
Franchise: Business Doctors
Date launched the franchise: May 2014

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your Business Doctors franchise business?
I am 53 married with two children. I spent 30 years in corporate life initially training and qualifying as an accountant. I carried out a number of senior finance roles before moving into general management following completion of an MBA. I became MD of a business in private equity followed by a spell as MD of a family owned business.

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose Business Doctors?
After a number of years running businesses for other people I felt the time was right to look at doing something for myself. I looked at a number of different options and eventually chose Business Doctors after a significant amount of due diligence. The key reasons for choosing Business Doctors were the holistic approach to providing business advice and support coupled with our hands on support, the collaborative nature of the network and the founder’s values and ethics.

How did you raise the finance?
I used our own money to provide the initial funding for the purchase of the franchise and working capital to run the business in the early days.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
A comprehensive two part training with an initial one week followed by a further two days six weeks later. This was complemented by in field training
and support during the first year.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
What I love about the franchise is that there is not necessarily a typical day however if you look over a month time period I will spend circa

  • 20% of my time on business development activities which includes networking, sales calls, running workshops / seminars looking and generally building long term relationships with potential clients and referral partners. *
  • 60 % of my time is spent delivering services to my clients across a broad range of business sectors, *
  • 10% of my time is spent supporting the franchise in recruiting new franchisees and product development *
  • 10% on administration.

What challenges have you faced?
In the early days it was getting used to having to do everything i.e. not having the resource I was used to in corporate life. This coupled with it taking time to find and win my first client meant there were periods where you questioned if you had made the right decision. This was where the franchise was important as you were able to sense check you were doing the right things and also talk to other franchisees who had experienced similar frustrations in their early days.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Yes, I have a level of freedom to do what I want, when I want and with who I want that I never had in corporate life. I thoroughly enjoy working with a range of clients and gain great satisfaction from helping them improve their business and achieve their long term goals and ambitions.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?
Whilst it is important to do due diligence it ultimately comes down to a decision of the “heart”, is it really something you want to do? Whilst buying a franchise increasing the chances of success you are still starting your own business and as such you have to be ready for the roller coast ride of doing so.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
You need to have an entrepreneurial spirit coupled with a robust character able to cope with the ups and downs that go with running a business. Also follow the franchise model rather than spending time reinventing the wheel. Lastly ultimately running a successful business is all about sales so you need to ensure you prioritise business development activities.

What are your plans for the future?
To continue to grow my own business as well as contributing further to the success of the franchise.

Would you do it again?
Yes without doubt.

Exclusive interview: Why I choose Northwood over other property franchises

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Name: Paul Ryder
Location: Eastbourne & Hastings
When office opened: 01/09/2008 & 01/11/2012
Annual Turnover: £2m combined (Almost!)
Number of staff: 11

What did you do before becoming a Northwood franchisee?

I worked in sales for 20 years at various levels before opening Eastbourne. Starting as a door to door salesperson and progressing to Company Director

Why did you go down the franchise route?

A proven track record of success is often more attractive than having to re-invent the wheel. Given that we had no previous knowledge of the industry and Northwood offered an attractive USP we decide to invest.

What differentiates Northwood from the competition?

Not just the USP but also the way they positioned themselves. Northwood treated us as a valued individual rather than “Just another investor”, they had good quality marketing material which gave me confidence in the company. They also actively encouraged me to speak with any of the current franchisees before investing, which also gave me a lot of confidence.

How did you raise the finance?

HSBC business loan

What training and support did you receive initially when setting up?

All our staff were fully trained to a very high standard by experienced staff at the Franchise at no cost to us as a business other than travelling and accommodation costs.

What ongoing support do you receive ongoing?

A lot! Even after many years of trading there are still situations that I prefer to discuss with experienced professionals before making a decision. We certainly wouldn’t be where we are today without their continued support.

What is a typical day for you as a Northwood franchisee?

Golf after a late breakfast! But on the days I go to the offices I spend time listening to my staff and looking for ways to develop the business’s as well as taking care of any urgent matters. I also deal with the finances.

What marketing tools do you use to grow your franchise?

Radio, Leaflets, Newspaper, Property portals

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in owning & running a franchise?

The early days required a lot of energy making sure we continued to grow at an acceptable rate in order to stop losing money, but that was part of the business plan.

How has becoming a Northwood franchisee changed your life?

I no longer have to get up at the crack of dawn to travel into London to work a 15 hour day and come home after my family have gone to bed! I see a lot more of my family and now even get to work with them. I also have the ability to make sure the work environment we have is happy, professional one where each member of staff is recognised as an individual.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

Someone who recognised their own strengths and weakness’ and recruits others to do the work they can’t do themselves, for me I need a really good admin team while others need sales people to support them.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?

Make sure you’re buying something that is of interest to you, the more interest you have in the work, the less it feels like work. Also make sure the business can deliver the returns you need and above all make sure the Franchise support is as good as Northwood offer.

What are your plans for the future of your franchise?

To continue to grow and develop the offices we have while also growing our own property portfolio

Would you do it all again?

Given that I have opened a second office in Hastings, I think I can safely say “Yes”.

To receive Northwood's FREE franchise prospectus, click here and download it immediately. 

Exclusive interview: "Burning desire to be my own Boss & TaxAssist fitted the bill"

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Name: John Biggs
Location: Epsom
Franchise: TaxAssist Accountants

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose TaxAssist Accountants franchise?

The easy part was deciding that I was going to run my own small business – the hard bit was deciding what that business would be. Having had franchised businesses as clients in the past, I knew that franchising was a good way of establishing and growing a profitable business reasonably quickly with less risk. The trick then became finding which franchise was best.

"TaxAssist Accountants seemed to have a viable and realistic business model and offered a lot of value for your money. I have always gained tremendous personal satisfaction from helping my clients grow and prosper in the past and TaxAssist’s service orientated model is aligned to the way I like working."

What did you do before taking up your TaxAssist Accountants franchise?

I started my career in a 4 partner independent firm of chartered accountants before moving to a Big 4 accountancy firm where I was fortunate enough to gain broad experience serving a variety of clients and working in a number of countries.

However, I have a passion for working with small and entrepreneurial businesses, and also had a burning desire to run my own business.

How did you raise the finance?

I financed it personally.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

I found the initial training course well structured and giving good coverage of the range of topics to get you up and running in the business.

It’s probably important to be mindful that the initial training can’t provide all the knowledge for every eventuality - but it certainly gives more than enough to get you off the ground and importantly you know where to go when you feel you need additional help.

It’s also worth making the most of the additional training courses that are available, including the training that’s offered to new franchisees in months 2, 3 and 6 as well as the ongoing updates.

What is a typical day for you as a TaxAssist franchisee?

It’s been great and has exceeded expectations! I love the variety of clients that I get to meet and work with, ranging from new startups through to established businesses and also landlords and retirees. I have found that clients love our simple model and the straightforward value that we offer.

The level of brand awareness is also quite high with a number of new clients saying “we live nearby and have seen other TaxAssist offices but since you’ve opened up here we thought we’d come in now that you are local”.

"The support that I have received from Norwich has also played a significant part in the growth of my business. Having this support means I have more time to spend on servicing my clients and working on my business."

Despite this I’m probably putting in more hours than expected - but it is self-inflicted!

What challenges have you faced?

There has no doubt been many challenges, however, as these are generally dealt with as part of the day to day running of the business, nothing stands out as being something that has kept me awake at night. Fortunately, there is tremendous variety in the role and fantastic support from the franchise system, Norwich and other franchisees, which has enabled me to get on with the job.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?

The personal satisfaction of running my own small business is intense and it’s incredibly rewarding to see the impact that we can make on our clients’ businesses and lives.

I also now feel completely in control of my plans for the future and know that it’s really down to me.

What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow your franchise?

"Apart from my shop of course, TaxAssist has a fantastic franchisee business toolkit which I use to guide me in my marketing campaigns."

These are topical and targeted and means almost everything is done for me. I also make use of social media, use TaxAssist’s advert templates and make sure I get regular PR coverage.

The national TaxAssist website also continues to drive leads my way.

What differentiates your TaxAssist franchise from the competition?

I would say for clients, they are attracted to the open, welcoming look and feel of the shop which is so different from traditional accountancy practices.

The Support Centre in Norwich makes sure that we stay ahead of the game with regards to marketing and technological innovations, meaning I can stay one step ahead of my competitors.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

I would say you need to be hard working, ambitious and able to listen and take advice.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?

"I would say do your research, speak to as many franchisees as you can and find a franchise which fits with your personality and passions."

What are your plans for the future?

I have run my business from a shop front from day one – it’s well located and ticks most of the boxes. Having the shop front also meant taking on a part time staff member almost immediately - and growth meant I’ve added more staff as they’ve been needed. Further premises will be added when we run out of seats!

Would you do it again?

Absolutely – only I’d take the plunge sooner.

To receive our FREE and non-obligatory franchise prospectus click here.

Exclusive interview: Being your own boss with Promedica Plus

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Name: Tibor Dusnoki
Location: North West Surrey
Franchise: Promedica Plus

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

I came to the UK in 2012 from Hungary where I had worked in Public Relations, Marketing and Sales, and later on as a teacher and translator. In England I had worked in the care sector for two years before I decided to join Promedica.

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose your franchise?

I always wanted to start my own business, because I enjoy being independent. At the same time it is great to have continuous support, particularly as I had no experience in running a business in the UK before I started this venture.

Tell us about Promedica Plus.

Promedica Plus is a franchise business. Its Franchise Partners identify opportunities for sister company Promedica24 to provide high quality, affordable, live-in care as an alternative to residential care. Promedica Plus offers outstanding business opportunities for ambitious, motivated entrepreneurs who want to help transform people’s lives for the better. Furthermore, it offers all Franchise Partners dedicated and ongoing support, including professional development, admin support, and marketing.

How did you raise the finance?

I had some savings, so that was not an issue.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

I already had some experience in care before joining Promedica, but there is initial training when you start and there are franchise partner meetings every two months. Also, there is ongoing support from your Franchise Support Manager.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?

Every day is different, but typically you will make phone calls, answer enquiries by email and by phone, meet and assess potential clients and maybe do some marketing.

What challenges have you faced?

As Promedica is relatively new in the UK – the head office opened early 2014 – we had some challenges, as the brand was not well-known in the market. Also, live-in care, surprisingly, is a service that many people have never heard of.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?

It definitely has, and in the most positive way. I can do what I like and what I am good at, for a decent income, and with flexible working time, as I am my own boss.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?

Do not rush. Get as much information as possible before signing a contract. Talk to people who are involved in other franchises, speak to existing partners of the franchise you are thinking to buy into, and again, take your time.

What are your plans for the future?

I hope to develop further contacts with sources of business, and to double my number of clients. I also want to see Promedica24 (sister company Promedica24 provides the care staff) increase its market share to become one of the most important live-in care providers and the first choice for most potential clients.

Would you do it again?

Absolutely.

For more information on the Promedica Plus franchise business opportunity, click here.

Interview with Alan & Julie Parry, Oscar Pet Foods, South East

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Name: Alan & Julie Parry
Location: Berkshire, Wiltshire and Hants.
Franchise you bought: Oscar Pet Foods

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying a franchise business?
Alan - Prior to the purchase of the franchise I was an ADR International Tanker Driver & DCPC Instructor. I have also spent 14 years as a police officer and 4 years in the Army.

Julie - Senior Project Manager in IT for an international engineering company for the last 16 years; I’ve worked in IT all my working life.

Why did you initially decide to go down the franchise route? And what made you choose a franchise resale over starting a new franchise business?
In the past I had looked at a franchise but didn’t find anything I was interested in. Some years later we went down the franchise route because if you get the right product and the right company it makes starting up a business easier. I first had to decide what it was I wanted to do, I settled on pet foods. Then I had to see who was out there and what they were offering; to try to find value for money for yourselves and your future customers. If you don’t believe in your product how can you expect anybody else to? The franchise team at Oscars were as enthusiastic as I was and were always there to guide me and help whenever and wherever needed (as they still are today).

How does the decision making process for buying a resale differ from buying a new franchise?
For myself the decision of buying a new franchise was not an option because in the area I was looking the resale with Oscars was the only option.

What made you decide on the franchise you bought?
A big thing for myself was that the franchise had to be part of the BFA. That firstly gave me a lot of confidence in any company being part of a group that had to offer certain standards and honour them.

As for Oscars, after reading through many company portfolios of what they were offering for your hard earned money, it just came down to plain talk. No hiding behind legal type statements or gobble dee gook.

They explained what the company was about and its products and I liked the way they did it. After making further enquiries and meeting with the fantastic franchise team I had no doubts that my future was a rosy one and an OSCAR one. It was a pleasure to go through the set up with Oscar as at all times we had support from them and their fantastic LADIES.

What have been the main benefits to you buying a resale business?
I think the main benefit has been an income from day one. It’s not easy to start in any business but if you are generating an income from day one it makes life a lot easier. I also had an insight into what could be achieved with a lot more hard work

Were there any challenges you had to overcome?
Every day is a challenge in any business but when you start up on your own for the first time it’s very daunting. Thankfully having people like Oscar behind you then there is no mountain you can’t climb.

Was it easier to raise finance because you were looking at a resale opportunity?
We were in the lucky position of not needing any finance, but I’m sure had we needed it I think it would have been easier to obtain.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing from your franchisor?
We had an initial two weeks full training at Oscar head office and after that we had an infield trainer and support for a further five days. I think we at Oscar are very lucky because from the head of the company down they are all there at some time or other to hold out the hand to support you. We are at the moment on a course run by COAPE in Companion animal Nutrition (QCF Level 3).

This is funded by Oscar not just for our benefit but also for the benefit of our customers. We have a free phone number that can get us and our customers’ advice from our vets and animal behaviour advice. We have regular regional meetings incorporating ongoing training on a number of subjects.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
Up early and after breakfast and walking the dog (well one of us does) we walk to the office, now sited at the end of the garden.

No two days are the same but after turning on the computers it’s down to business - taking and making calls to new and existing customers, generating orders for our two delivery days. No matter how well you plan your day there will always be something to try to throw you off course. We have a number of projects going at the moment in the run up to Christmas and beyond, a lot of time is spent fine tuning these. After generating your deliveries we have to sort the order of delivery and then load ready for the early start the following day. There is also a large amount of paperwork to be done not just for the deliveries but for the stock control and of course legal side. The payments and chasing payments, VAT, Taxes amongst a few thing that need constant attention. As does our stock and to ensure we don’t run out of anything plus stock rotation.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Yes it has changed my life. I am now working for us and all our efforts are for us and so are the benefits. We work harder but we can fit our lives in around our work life and not around somebody else’s.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise? And would you recommend a franchise resale?
Before you commit to buy any franchise do your homework not just on the franchisor but also the product and what you are getting for your money, Future support for you and the product. What do you have to pay them and is it reasonable? Do your research on them in great depth and if you’re not sure stay away.

What are your plans for the future?
We are looking to continue the growth of our franchise and also our knowledge of our industry for the benefit of our customers ourselves and our franchisor.

Would you do it again?
With Oscar YES

Growth is on the cards for Card Connection franchisee

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Leading greeting card publisher and franchisor, Card Connection has today announced that franchisee Martin Cameron has seen his franchise grow by 9% in in the past year. Former hotelier Martin joined the Company almost ten years ago, now delivers Card Connection’s extensive range of quality greetings cards and accessories to retailers in Kent.

“When I started in 2005, I supplied and merchandised 150 stores,” confirms Martin. “These days I now look after 175 retail accounts. However, in each store I have worked to become more established. I may have started out providing a simple card spinner but now have tried to expand this to a metre display plus gift bags, wrap and party products in each account.

“My retail customers really appreciate the investment I have made in display equipment for them and this is important for me as it secures the position of my greetings cards displays in-store,” continues Martin. “Of course, it is also essential that the display looks great so Card Connection’s regular releases of new, quality designs ensure we stand out head and shoulders above any competition in the market. Card Connection’s new point of sale display, which I have just rolled-out, is particularly bright and colourful, it is sure to attract attention and help continue to maximise sales in 2015.”

Penny Gelman, business development manager, Card Connection explains: “Martin’s excellent sales figures for the past 12 months are a reflection of his continuous hard work and focus to grow his franchise. Martin is particularly disciplined when it comes to call cycles and ensures all his accounts are looked after, from small independents to national accounts. Martin has also started supplying some new stores including a Budgens in Tunbridge Wells which he has developed to become one of his top outlets. We are proud of what Martin has achieved over the past year and will continue to support him in his franchise.”

Card Connection franchisees supply greeting cards and accessories in retail outlets on a ‘consignment’ basis, also supplying the display equipment free on loan as appropriate, minimising the retailers’ costs and maximising their profits. This is one step beyond ‘sale or return’ as retail customers don’t have to buy the stock initially; they only pay for what they sell. Card Connection’s award winning merchandising service provided to retailers has proved popular all over the UK and Ireland.

Card Connection is one of the UK’s larger 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.

Trophy Pet Foods now even more Green

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From our distribution warehouse in Oxfordshire we ship out all our Trophy foods and accessories to our franchisees all over the UK.

 

This involves a lot of packaging, most of which is recycled. To ensure that we can recycle even more, we have installed a cardboard and plastic baler. All our plastic and cardboard can now be sent off to a recycling point to be made into something brand new!

By buying Trophy Pet Foods you can benefit from low food miles, sustainable sourced ingredients and in supporting a local independent business, manufacturing & selling British pet foods you can even help reduce your own carbon footprint. That's The Trophy Local Advantage!

About Trophy Pet Foods:
Trophy Pet Foods franchise is a pet food delivery service. Established in 1990, Trophy Pet Foods has maintained its position as a market leader and is a home-based mobile franchise business opportunity. Trophy Pet Foods is an associate member of the British Franchise Association.

I was really impressed with the examples of savings

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Farnham-based Lee Walton joined the Auditel Cost Management Franchise in May this year. Prior to this, Lee was the Managing Director and Owner of Probeck Ltd, an Association Management and Events Organising company, for nearly 20 years. Lee planned trade shows, conferences and banquets for up to 1,200 guests, all over Europe and in such places as Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Asked why he chose Auditel, Lee said that he had been impressed with the image portrayed by the media, the website and the collateral. “I went to The Franchise Show at Olympia and heard their Managing Director speaking at one of the seminars. I had thought the days of running my own business had come to a natural end and I wanted to do something else in a white collar, business-to-business environment.

“I was influenced by the success of franchising and picked out Auditel as being a ‘stand out’ operation. The examples of savings were impressive. I just wish that while I had been running my company and indeed, in my manufacturing days, I had thought about using a service like Auditel's. We had never tried saving money by outsourcing cost management. I could see an opportunity and I am going to enjoy enlightening others!

“As a Cost Management Consultant, I am able to call on my past experiences to select areas where companies need help to reduce financial waste, introduce efficiencies and therefore, improve their bottom line profits.”

Lee says that the best part of the training was that for every question, there seemed to be an answer. “So we were sent away at the end, with a level of confidence that really makes one happier about going out into the cold world. I can’t wait!!

Matt Sidwell, the Auditel UK and Ireland Network Development Director, points out: “According to Paul Stafford, PR Manager of the British Franchise Association (bfa), ‘owning and running a franchise business is all about transferable skills’. Lee’s previous management experience and that of our other franchisees fit the Auditel business format perfectly. We harness their skills with our exceptional 5-Year Mentoring Programme. This includes the professional and technical know-how of cost management, which enables our franchisees to build a highly scalable business practice.

“If you are considering a career change, why not book a place at one of our free Discovery Seminars. Talk to our Franchise Support Team and ask as many questions as you like. We shall enjoy meeting you!”

About Auditel: Established in 1994, Auditel is the UK and Ireland’s favourite cost management franchise opportunity with over 200 franchisees. Auditel Affiliates renew their franchises after 5, 10 and now 15 years due to consistently achieving their financial goals and quality of life. In 2012, Auditel was the Winner of the bfa HSBC Franchisor of the Year Award for Outstanding Franchisee Support and Finalists over the last 5 years in the Franchise Marketing Awards for Best Marketing Support and Best Website..

Photo: Lee Walton (pcd©)

Finding passion in work with Premier Sport franchise

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Gary lives in Crowthorne Berkshire and is operating in the Woking territory. Gary first made contact with Premier Sport in September 2013 after his wife came across Premier Sport online and knowing that Gary was looking for a career change, said "here is something which I know will interest you".

 

Gary has enjoyed a successful, 20 year career across the globe as a UK Diplomat. His management roles have been within the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, working in Nicaragua for the British Embassy, New Zealand in the British Consulate office and Malaysia with the British High Commission.

More recently and after landing back in the UK with his family, Gary has been influential within the Horticultural Industry. Although Gary has travelled the world and experienced a wide spread of different cultures, the one thing that has remained is his passion for sport and in particular Rugby. This passion and his enthusiasm for Rugby are demonstrated by his coaching role at his local Rugby club. It was after attending an Awareness day with Andy Heald as part of his due diligence that Gary realised - inspiring children through sport was the direction for him and he hasn't stop smiling since!

Gary is looking forward to building his business and embarking on a new career. I am sure that with a combination of Gary's diplomatic and personal skills, plus his enthusiasm for getting children active will mean that it won't be too long before Gary is enjoying success with Premier Sport in the Woking region.

We are delighted to welcome Gary to the network.

Four-time Ironman adds strength to companies in Sussex/Surrey

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A four-time Ironman triathlete from Surrey is applying his drive for success in the business arena by bringing Business Doctors, the UK’s fastest growing support service for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), to Sussex/Surrey.

Chris Simpson, a triathlete who has competed at both the World and European Championships, will be applying his experience gained turning around a wide range of businesses to provide support and strategic advice to owners and directors of SMEs in the South East.

Business Doctors, which has 30 operations already established across the country, supports smaller businesses with advice to drive business growth, from strategies for sales and profitable growth to advice for effective people management, accessing finance and acquiring other businesses.

Prior to joining Business Doctors, Simpson ran businesses including The Search Works, Europe’s largest search marketing agency, which he helped to grow to £5m turnover, partly by expanding its overseas operations into 11 countries in just a year.

Simpson also worked as the commercial director of Manor Royal-based Air Miles (now Avios), which experienced tenfold growth from 150 to 1,500 employees during his time with the company.

He said of his new challenge: “I have always enjoyed change management and building strategies to help businesses reach their full potential. It’s something I have done in the past as an element of my day job, but I am excited by the idea of doing this every day and using my experience to help grow businesses in Sussex/Surrey.”
Rod Davies, founder of Business Doctors, said: “We are delighted to have extended our presence in the South East with another high-calibre signing.

“Chris has been there and done it at the highest level in business and is typical of all our Business Doctors around the country. They are not consultants, but are proven business people who can advise from a position of experience.”

The Sussex/Surrey operation is the thirty-first Business Doctors base in the UK and the eleventh in the South East.

Business Doctors has been described as the antidote to Dragons’ Den. With its extended coverage nationally, its experts have plugged the gap left by the closure of Business Link by helping business leaders take control of their future and achieve their vision.

Home Instead franchise that is the heart of the community

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After a career in investment banking in the City of London Paul Tame decided to take voluntary redundancy in order that he could reflect on life and commit time to working with local voluntary organisations.

During this period of reflection Paul and his wife, Jill assessed opportunities that allowed them to be involved in a business but that would also take them to the heart of their community.

They were interested in the franchise business model and were keen to find out more about at-home care – their research uncovered Home Instead Senior Care, a global franchise business, operating in 17 countries with over 1,000 offices – might this be the franchise model for them? Every day Home Instead are making a difference by helping elderly people remain living independently in their own homes for as long as possible.

Having lived in Epsom with their young family for more than 12 years they were delighted to discover that the Epsom territory for Home Instead Senior Care was available.

In March 2010, Paul and Jill opened their Home Instead office with their territory covering the local areas of Ashtead, Banstead, Bookham, Ewell, Leatherhead and Oxshott.

Paul had committed himself to working with a local voluntary organisation and this experience had been central to his decision to launch the Home Instead franchise.

Paul said: “My experiences doing voluntary work made me realise that I love working with people and to try to give something back to the community in which I was raised. The Home Instead opportunity allows me to help change the way care is delivered to older people and I must say I’m delighted how rewarding this is.

He continued: “Working in the City gave me experience in managing a large and diverse team in many different international locations as well as all aspects of customer and service delivery to an exceptional standard. Since taking a career change to start the Home Instead business in Epsom I have been really touched, seeing up close and personal what a difference that quality care can make to people's lives. I love working in the heart of our community and am very proud of the service that we are delivering. The heart of our business is the team of wonderful CAREGivers who, like me, truly want to make a difference.”

Home Instead Senior Care now has over 130 offices nationwide and is one of the UK’s leading care companies. Their service is tailored to the needs of individual clients and ranges from companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, post-discharge care, personal care, medication reminders, shopping and errands. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A husband and wife partnership with Dream Doors franchise

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Franchisees: Sean & Katie Hebdon
Territory: Southampton
Franchise: Dream Doors

Career backgrounds: Sean had some associated industry experience before joining Dream Doors last year; his most recent position was as a manager for a builders' merchant. He also managed a small business on behalf of its owner. I (Katie) worked predominantly in Human Resource Management within the retail sector. We met at B&Q where we both worked closely with the showroom (kitchen) department.

Sean looks after all the sales and surveys, as well as the ordering and property maintenance. I manage the showroom, the accounts and payroll, the marketing and the company CRM system, as well as any additional admin. We received some excellent sales training and our business support manager is always on hand to answer any questions we have.

Why we decided to make the move into franchising: Sean had always wanted to work for himself, and franchising suits my more cautious nature. Dream Doors is a proven business model, one that we could immediately understand, and offers plenty of support.

We were very excited about a totally new challenge. We knew that the Dream Doors consumer offering of a make-over is very relevant in the current economic climate, and we were comfortable it was the right decision for us.

Why we chose Dream Doors: We both spent many years working in retail and management, so Dream Doors taps into our experience and interests, but most importantly, it utilises the skills we already possess.

The brand is very powerful and professional, which fitted our criteria. We believe strongly in the kitchen facelift concept of “don’t replace it, reface it”, as well as the quality of the products we offer. We also did lots of research and spoke to a couple of franchisees before making our decision.

Future plans for the business: After a lot of hard work, we finally opened our showroom in October. The following month our sales rocketed, and we've maintained those heights into the New Year. In the next two years, we would like to open a second satellite showroom within our territory.

Auditel franchise make great savings for happy clients

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Simon Eggleton lives in Buckinghamshire with his wife and three children. He worked for leading telecoms and IT companies, in commercially focused senior management roles. He wanted to set up his own venture and began to investigate the options of a stand-alone business or franchising.

Simon visited the British & International Franchise Exhibition in October 2010. He recalls: “I found it extremely useful and it gave me an excellent overview of what was available. When I conducted due diligence into my shortlist of franchises and stand-alone businesses, Auditel became my benchmark for comparison. In the final analysis, Auditel offered an opportunity to leverage my skills, and provided me with the flexibility to deliver the sort of returns I was aiming for. I also felt that the people I met had integrity and that I could work with them happily.”

Auditel’s comprehensive and informative training
Simon joined the Auditel Cost Management Franchise in January 2011. He says: “The training was comprehensive, informative and was offered in a logical way. The presenters were knowledgeable and professional and it was a great opportunity to get to know some of my colleagues.”

Simon recalls: “Using a broad range of problem solving and people management skills, I had experience of successfully delivering programmes and projects, in tough and challenging environments. This work included an in-depth knowledge of how to work with organisations and identify opportunities for innovative solutions to reduce business overheads and improve profitability.”

Two of Simon’s many projects
These are two of many projects undertaken by Simon, which demonstrates his abilities. The first was with a £100m turnover manufacturing company in Buckinghamshire. Their internal procurement staff focussed on tightly managing their £60m cost of sales. Simon was engaged to re-negotiate terms for their fleet of over 100 mobile phones and consolidate them onto a single network. After carrying out a detailed review to benchmark costs and profile usage patterns, Simon tendered to several service providers. He negotiated terms to pull the fleet into one account and improve his client's customer service. This reduced their costs by 54%.

The second involves a professional services company in South Buckinghamshire with a staff of 60. Like the manufacturing company above, they considered themselves to have a keen eye on costs. However, when Simon was engaged in 2011, the renewal period for their gas supply had been missed. The renewal letters had been overlooked and the contract had rolled over for another year. This occurs for 70% of UK businesses. With Simon on board, there was no chance of this happening again. He gathered all the contractual and billing information, reviewed their historical invoices looking for errors and overcharges and, at the appropriate time, put the supply out to tender.

Once the client had signed, Simon dealt with the new supplier and all the ensuing paperwork. This freed up their internal resources to focus on their key business. The result was a 49% saving for the client, not to mention peace of mind! By outsourcing through Simon, they won't miss potentially expensive deadlines in the future. He went on to deliver a wide range of additional projects for this client, saving an average 30% in cost areas such as document management, communications, mobile phones, office cleaning, HR services and office supplies.

Outsourcing frees up cash and refocuses resources
Simon explains: “Evidence clearly shows that many organisations find outsourcing reduces costs and improves business performance - nothing new in that, organisations are used to outsourcing logistics, accounts, legal advice and creative marketing - to name just a few areas. However, by taking a more comprehensive approach to what is bought and how it is bought, businesses can free up cash and refocus resources to fund strategic priorities.”

Photo: Simon Eggleton

Animal lovers find their home in Oscars franchise

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Name: Simon & Helen Thomas
Location: Isle of Wight
Franchise: Oscar Petfoods Ltd

Why I chose this franchise company
We chose this franchise because we wanted to run our own business without the complications of property etc. We have a love of animals, especially dogs and Oscars offered what we were looking for.

What I did before becoming a franchise owner
Before we became Oscar franchisees,  I was the Area Manager for Solar Company and before that we ran our own dry cleaning and laundry business

How I raised the finance
We raised the money through help from parents and a bank loan.

The training and support I receive from the franchisor
I consider the training and support that we receive from the Oscar's team as comprehensive and ongoing

The challenges I have faced

    • Stock control
    • Learning the product range
    • Consolidation of repeat sales

My advice to someone thinking of buying their first franchise

    • Look into company and product carefully
    • Find something that you will enjoy doing and that can be expanded

My plans for the future

    • Continue to build up the business with central hub from which to operate.
    • Potential for kennels is serious option
    • Build ties with all canine associated clubs etc

Auditel franchise was the stand-out choice when I investigated the marketplace

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One of the newest Auditel Cost Management franchisees is Andy Harris who lives in Milton Keynes. Prior to joining Auditel, Andy held a number of positions as a Finance Director. In his most recent role, he was involved with company acquisitions and management buyouts.

Andy recalls: “I wanted a new direction that would leverage my skill sets as a Finance Director. I went to the British Franchise Exhibition. Auditel were there and I enjoyed speaking with their people. More importantly, I liked the way they talked about achieving their aims and I like the follow-up that I have had since then. Quite honestly, Auditel were the stand-out choice when I started to investigate the marketplace.

“The training was good. There was some light-heartedness with a good mix of sales, admin and business tools, helping to keep it interesting. As a finance guy, the selling stuff was important to me. Overall, it was hard work but I enjoyed it. The proof will be in the coming weeks!”

Edward Brewer, Auditel’s Franchise Development Director, reports: “The latest NatWest/bfa survey reveals that nine out of 10 franchisees remain profitable. For any management professional looking to run their own business for the first time, franchising is an increasingly attractive option.

“The Auditel franchise is a fantastic opportunity and has been recognised as such within the industry through many awards over successive years for best franchisee support. Why not book your place at one of our Free Discovery Seminars? Talk to our Franchise Support Team and ask as many questions as you like. We shall enjoy meeting you!”

About Auditel
Established in 1994, Auditel is the UK and Ireland’s largest and fastest growing cost, purchase and supplier management franchise opportunity, with a network of over two hundred highly-skilled specialists. Auditel Affiliates renew their franchises after 5, 10 and now 15 years due to consistently achieving their financial goals. The network turnover has grown by 192% since 2007.Their higher earners enjoy an income of over £200k.

Photo caption: Andy Harris

Auditel franchisee walked the chalk in the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge

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The Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge was back for its 4th year on 16th September and offered a fantastic day out on a 5, 9 or 18 mile route along the beautiful Chilterns Ridgeway, taking in Whiteleaf Cross, Coombe Hill and Ivinghoe Beacon. 

This year, around 900 people took part in aid of Iain Rennie Grove House. The charity supports local families affected by life-limiting illness. Through a combination of 24/7 hospice at home care and day hospice care, patients of all ages can stay at home for as long as possible.

The event was sponsored by a networking group, Chiltern Business Connections, which is chaired by Buckinghamshire-based Auditel Cost Management Specialist Simon Eggleton. Simon and his family took part. He said: “We have been supporting Iain Rennie Grove House through our networking group for some time. It was a great opportunity to continue that encouragement. The whole event was an enjoyable family occasion – if a little extreme way to wear out the kids and dog!

“We raised a goodly amount – in excess of £1,000! Overall, the charity raised in the region of £65,000 – enough to provide nursing care to cancer patients for over 500 days”.

Photo: Bryher –the dog

About Auditel
Established in 1994, Auditel is the UK and Ireland’s largest and fastest growing cost, purchase and supplier management franchise opportunity, with a network of over two hundred highly-skilled specialists. Since 2005, the number of franchisees has grown by 175%. Auditel Affiliates renew their franchises after 5, 10 and now 15 years due to consistently achieving their financial goals. Their higher earners enjoy an income of over £200k.

Jo Jingles franchisee has control over career and finances

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Franchisee: Hayley Bishop
Territory: Woking - Guildford
Franchise: Jo Jingles

The main reason for choosing a franchise was because I wanted to be independent and in control of my career and finances. I wanted to be flexible with the hours I work, and with young children be able to work around their school holidays as well as taking and picking up from school.

I also wanted an “umbrella” by that I mean someone or body there to guide me if I was in need of help. Opinions from people who knew the business and could answer simple or more difficult questions and who had the knowledge of any obstacles that I might come across. It is a daunting prospect going out into the “big bad world” alone, but somehow it seemed less risky choosing the Franchise route.

I was an IT teacher, teaching 16 to 19 year olds. A very rewarding job but somehow I seemed to spend more time on paperwork than actually teaching the students, and I’m not sure if my children ever saw me in the evenings with all the marking I had to do!

I had some savings and luckily my husband did as well so we put it together and with a little help from the bank managed to get started. I made sure that I only bought the necessary props and equipment as the money came in, I didn’t want to overstretch myself so built the business up gradually, reinvesting as much as I could on a monthly basis.

The training and support I receive from my franchisor; limitless is the only word that comes to mind. The office staff are there for you whenever you want and Gill (the Franchisor) is always available if you need her. I think because everyone believes in Jo Jingles so passionately as a company that you feel you are all part of a big happy family. They are there to offer help when needed and guidance if you are not sure about something, advising you if you are in need but in a very diplomatic way and of course checking that you are keeping up the high standards expected from you.

The challenges I have faced have been more from circumstances than anything else. I began Jo Jingles back in 2002; sadly my business partner was having personal problems so we sold the business in 2005. That was my greatest challenge and also my greatest regret. I had felt that I couldn’t continue without a partner and only when I sold the business did I realise that once again I was alone looking for work. I went back to teaching and regretted leaving Jo Jingles. I hadn’t appreciated the flexibility, the independence and most of all the financial rewards.

Luckily for me I had the opportunity to buy the business back in 2007. The challenge then was for me to build up the business again and also to believe that I could make a go of it on my own. Now in a recession that poses other issues. “Will my classes be full?” “Will nurseries still want me?” (Would economic cuts affect my business?) This is when you have to fine tune the business. The props we have for our classes I now make instead of buying.

Email as much as I can to my parents and not waste paper and stamps unnecessarily. The challenge being to think about everything you are doing and how you can save money in those areas, making cuts in sensible areas but not in areas necessary for your business to grow.

If I was to give advice to first time franchisees I would say research the topic fully. Will it fit into my lifestyle? Will the financial rewards be enough for the family? Are you prepared for some hard work especially in the first two years as you will be spending a large amount of money from the business, to put back into it? My biggest question would be “Do you have complete support from your family?” My husband and I laugh at how some nights I would be up making props one evening I made 40 pom pom Snowflakes for my Christmas week which took me until 2am. Another time I was editing the sleeping bunnies’ song for some hours wanting to get it perfect. My children threatened to break the CD if I played it once more!

The first few years are hard but once you have your props or songs edited then they are there for you to use whenever. A franchise is a long term business and if you have the dedication and are prepared for hard work then the rewards are high.

My future plan is to continue making my business a success. I would like to find more class teachers and to expand the business. I am determined to keep my business going as I know how much it suits my life, my children’s life and my family’s life as a whole. I made the mistake of giving it up once; I am not going to make that same mistake again!

Mayoral Opening for First ZipYard franchise in South England

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The Mayor of Haywards Heath, Councillor John Sabin officially opened the Hayward Heath ZipYard. Located in Chelsea Arcade on the Broadway, it is the first ZipYard to open in the South of England.
 
Already well established in Ireland and recently launched in Wales and Altrincham, The ZipYard is the most successful and fastest growing garmet alteration franchise in the UK and Ireland.  The Zip Yard concept brings on-site repairs and alterations to the high street in purpose-designed premises with state of the art machinery, computer systems and fully trained staff.
 
 In addition to offering a wide range of services, The Haywards Heath ZipYard centre provides an express one hour premium option for easy items such as turning up a hem or shortening sleeves.
 
Owned by local woman Jane Alleigh the centre opened in the first week of November and is already proving to be very successful.
 
Said Jane: “From the minute we started the shop fit last month everyone has been very enthusiastic and welcoming. Businesses and individuals alike have been telling me that a centre like ours has been much needed in Haywards Heath. They are pleased that they can now have garments repaired or altered quickly and expertly on their doorstep.”
 
One of the services the new ZipYard will provide is low cost hem or sleeve alterations for school uniforms. Explained Jane: “As a mother myself I know how quickly children grow and how much hassle it can be to get a school uniform taken up or let down.. Now they can do just that, as ZipYard hem and sleeve alterations are straightforward and quick jobs to do which will save parents both time and money.”

Backed with support from Recognition Express franchise

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Name: Paul Mitchell
Franchise territory: Thames Valley
Commenced Trading: 1981
Previous Job: Airline Steward

Over a period of 30 years, franchisee Paul Mitchell has been able to develop his business with the knowledge that he will always be backed with high standards of support by Recognition Express.

“I’ve been a Recognition Express franchisee since 1981, which means I’ve seen how the business has developed and improved every year,” says Paul. “The business today is very different from when I launched. There’s a huge emphasis on branding and marketing – a focus on making Recognition Express the first choice for our customers. The market has also changed too due to the growing importance of branding to any business. This means that there’s a lot more potential – any business can be considered a potential client.

“I’d always wanted to work for myself and it turned out that Recognition Express provided a great way for me to achieve this. It was their ability to provide great training and support that first attracted me to the business and this has got better and better. The business is always looking forward and has always been focused on improving its systems. The training is now very sophisticated and with all the added support, the franchise package is second to none.

“One of the benefits of a Recognition Express franchise is that a lot of new business comes straight to us through referrals. It’s up to the individual franchisee to decide how to use the marketing tools provided and market their business in their territory – you can look to develop the business as it suits you.

“The franchise revolves very much around marketing and sales, and as such experience in this would be a great help. However, it’s not strictly necessary at all. As long as you are personable and can relate to others in a professional environment, everything you need to know can be learned.

“I find the work to be very satisfying and still enjoy it after all these years. Recognition Express makes sure you are fully prepared to go into business and, so long as you follow the tried and tested format, everything is in place for success.”
 

Recognition Express franchise - Backed up by the best

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Name: Hugh O’Neill

Franchise Territory: Bromley & Dartford

Commenced Trading: May 2010

Previous Job: Regional Business Manager for a
Contract Caterer


Why did you choose to buy into a franchise?

Scary starting a business from scratch, wanted something that was proven and with a support structure.

 

Why did you choose Recognition Express?

I knew of Recognition Express as they used to supply my last company badges, I did not realise the extent of what they did. When I did my research, I was impressed with the quality of products I could supply, the margin that could be achieved, the low overhead costs and the support that would be offered.

I spoke to an existing Franchise Owner, Stuart Fisher said ‘you get what is on the tin’ and he is right!

 

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

Comprehensive and supportive.

 

How do you see your business progressing over the next three years?

In the first 3 years I see myself developing a solid base on which to grow the business.

 

What has been the response of customers?

We are competitive on pricing (not the cheapest), but we also provide an excellent personal service

 

What quality would you say is most important in your role?

Hardworking, a good listener, a passion to make your business a success

 

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

The franchise has everything you need to make a successful business, it is then up to you! I love it!

Using your business experience with McDonald's franchise

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Paul Crocker had run a number of successful petrol station businesses before taking on a McDonald's franchise in 1995. He now operates five restaurants in Kent with the help of his wife. He has consistently outperformed the national average for sales growth.
 
"The secret," says Paul, "is a combination of fine tuning operational performance and enticing new customers into the restaurant." He does this by getting out into the community, and seizing every opportunity there is to sponsor events and distribute vouchers so that people have an incentive to visit.
 
"McDonald's is great if you're competitive," Paul adds. "There are lots of measures to show you how you're performing regionally and nationally - as well as your own figures for last week and last year. I just like to beat targets. It gives me a buzz."
 
Paul was on the McMarCo committee for several years. It's made up of franchisees and senior people from Head Office who jointly decide the Company's marketing activity and spend for the following year. "It's amazing the influence you, just one individual, can have on the decisions of a big company," says Paul. "You really do have an effect. You're involved all the way, from coming up with ideas, to approving campaigns and budgets."

A proven track record with an Oscars franchise

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Franchisee: Tim Ives
Territory: Horsham, West Sussex
Date established: July 2004
 
Coming from a family devoted to animal welfare, I was drawn back to my roots on deciding that the stresses and strains of 20 years in the education sector had taken their toll.
 
I yearned to build a successful business for myself with a healthier lifestyle and more time to enjoy family, friends and the great outdoors.
 
I was drawn to Oscar because of its ethos and proven track record. From day one, I was impressed with their honesty and support and, having dismissed several less attractive options, it was such human’ factors that finally convinced me to purchase an Oscar franchise.
 

One year on with Martin & Co franchise in Folkestone

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Martin & Co Folkestone franchise owner Dennis Roodhardt shares his experiences of his Martin & Co office’s first year in business.
 
How have you performed in your first year what was your turnover?
We have performed extremely well, meeting and exceeding our targets each month. Our first year turnover was approximately £100k.
 
What have you learnt over the past year?
Our competitors’ common weakness is poor customer service.  We’ve spent the last year focusing on our customers, ensuring that we’re not only efficient, but also personal and approachable. This has become a winning combination for us and several of our multi-landlords have commented that they would much rather work with us than our competitors and prospective tenants are telling us that they’d rather ‘Move In With Martin’.
 
What have you enjoyed about running your own business?
Being responsible for our own success and creating jobs in a tough market have been major drivers in the last year.  Even the long hours have been rewarding – just knowing that every bit of effort we plough in today is an investment in our future.
 
How has working with your wife been?
The key to our success is communication; we talk through every challenge and ensure that we reach agreement as soon as possible.  We also have very complimentary skill sets; my business degree, big ideas, audacity and experience as a landlord compliments Rachel’s attention to detail and experience in sales & marketing; being the adjoining piece in a jigsaw puzzle is what makes a great team.
 
What does the future holds for your business?
Sky’s the limit. Our goal is to be the No.1 Letting Agent in Folkestone in terms of lets by the end of 2010. We estimate that we’re already 2nd in the local market based on lets agreed. Once we’ve achieved dominance in the Folkestone market we’ll be looking to expand and acquire a second territory.
 
What would you say to others thinking about going down the franchise route?
Go for it! Martin & Co offers the resources, training and branding to get your business off to a great start. 

Recognition Express Southern key rings take a slow boat to St Helena

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The owners of Recognition Express Southern pride themselves on their reputation, but when they got an order from the remote island of St Helena, they were flummoxed.
 
The French sent Napoleon Bonaparte to the isle in the Atlantic Ocean because, even now, it takes two weeks to get there, and there’s no means of a quick getaway. 
 
But the island’s tourism department contacted Recognition Express Southern, based in
Horndean, Portsmouth, and asked them to produce 500 branded pens and 500 keyrings.
 
Caroline Dinenage, who owns Recognition Express Southern with her mum Beverley, got to the bottom of the mystery order.
 
“It turns out that the Director of Tourism in St Helena went to the Isle of Wight Walking Festival four years ago and took home a badge that Recognition Express Southern produced. So when she wanted promotional products, we were her first port of call.”
 
The pens and keyrings carry the island’s Proud of St Helena (PoSH) logo.
 
Spokeswoman for St Helena Tourism Gemma George said: “PoSH is a local awareness campaign to enable our local residents to pass on a positive message to our visitors and the pride they feel for their island.
 
“We could produce promotional material ourselves but there are no companies here who provide such a professional range of corporate merchandise.
 
“Recognition Express were very good to work with – customer service was good and emails were answered promptly, and the art work was done effectively.”
 
Said Caroline: “It goes to show that you never know where the next order might come from – and that every order matters.
 
“The difference with this order is that it’s going to take two weeks for the merchandise to get there because there’s no airport in St Helena and the only way to deliver is by boat. No wonder Napoleon got stuck there.”
 
FACTS ABOUT ST HELENA
  • The island is one of the remotest inhabited islands in the world, 1,200 miles from the nearest land mass (Angola), and 1,800 miles from Brazil.
  • The only way to get there is by boat, a five-day trip from Capetown, or 14 days from the UK.
  • It measures 10.5 by 6.5 miles.
  • Jamestown (pop 884) is the only town.
  • The population is 5,000.
  • English is the island’s language.
  • The main crop is coffee.
  • Pumpkin pudding is a local delicacy.
  • Napoleon died there in 1821 after six years in exile. 
  • There are two hotels.
 

Ollie and his dad fix hoodies for school leavers at Recognition Express

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Enterprising Ollie Slack is not head boy of Greenacre School for nothing. He picked up a leaflet offering hoodies for school leavers, and asked his businessman dad if he could come up with a better deal.
 
The result: 48 students leaving this summer have just taken delivery of a bespoke hoodie, badged with the name of all their mates, and printed by Recognition Express.
 
Recognition Express Kent is run by Paul Slack and Steve Randerson at the Medway Enterprise Centre in Rochester. They badge anything from t-shirts to mugs with logos and designs.
 
At Ollie and his mates’ request, Paul and the team designed the hoodies with the word ‘09’ printed on them, putting all of the 48 names inside the numbers with the pupils individual nick name above.
 
Paul said: “Some wanted nicknames instead – like Fred, Borgy, Emo#1, Hobzy14, Lacy.fam and Yeti. So every hoodie was different.”
 
“We did a prototype. Ollie put it on and said ‘brilliant’.” 
 
“What the teenagers got was a unique piece of clothing in any colour, with any names they liked. It’s a good souvenir of their school days.”
 
Ollie breathed a sigh of relief when it all worked out. “I’m going to be helping my dad out at Recognition Express during my summer break. They are good at their job.”

Servicemaster franchise owner for over 30 years

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Andrew Simpson
ResCom - Servicemaster franchise
East Berkshire
 
I have been a franchisee since September 1972.
I purchased the franchise to work and produce an income to reflect the quantity and quality of my labours – by way of
 
  • Salary
  • Return on investment
  • Profit
  • Growth in equity of the goodwill I created – a saleable business.
 
I was attractedto this particular franchise for several reasons. Its existing reputation in the UK. ServiceMaster’s existing established integrity of dealing with others.
The expectation of a continuing need in the broad economy for cleaning and restoration service. A security of source of business – generated locally and as result of trading as a national name. Other franchisees act as a further sales force, we have a joint interest in supporting each other and ensuring each other’s success.
The benefits of trading as a brand, this is increasingly important within all world economies as customers to and established and a visible brand gives greater trust.
Comparatively low capital required in contrast to the high return it is possible to generate. A mutual benefit and reliance that is engendered by paying a percentage royalty – my franchisor has a serious interest in my success in order to ensure its own continuing and growing income. Being less reliant on keeping up to date with all legislation. Support to avoid the usual pitfalls of small business – employment law, health and safety etc
 
I enjoy being a franchiseebecause the structure has enabled me to gain income from locally generated business and the continuity of business through fluctuations in the broader economy via nationally generated work. Indeed during past economic downturns this business has grown most strongly.
I also enjoy the Camaraderie amongst my peers.
 
I enjoy working for myself again for several reasons.
To run successful small business you are absolutely required to act as a jack-of-all-trades. However there is also opportunity to specialise in particular aspects to the benefit of the individual by way of personal growth and to the general benefit of the business. To earn more than would otherwise have been possible in an employed environment.
 
 
 
 

Card Connection franchise acquires Chertsey territory

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Leading greeting card publisher and franchisor, Card Connection, has today announced that its Farnham franchisee– Latif Twigeri has also acquired Card Connection’s Chertsey territory.  This has resulted in Mr Twigeri taking over the distribution of Card Connection’s extensive range of quality greeting cards and gifts to more than 100 more stores within his new region.
 
“I anticipate that there is still significant potential for further development of the Chertsey area,” confirms Twigeri.  “I have already hired an additional store merchandiser to help with the extra work load and am looking at taking on further staff in the future however, it is important to balance expenses and income in the initial stages of expanding a business.”
 
Card Connection itself is one of the UK’s largest card publishers and is the market leader in the franchised distribution of greeting cards.  Using a proven system, franchisees place greeting card ranges in retail outlets on a ‘consignment’ basis.  The award winning merchandising service provided to retailers by local franchisees is second to none and has established the company’s excellent reputation especially within the convenience sector.  Card Connection franchisees also supply the company’s  national account network which includes the likes of Netto, Budgens, Londis, Spar and Shell.
 
“Latif has an intuitive understanding of how to build a profitable business, explains Andrew Cutler, franchise and sales director of Card Connection.  “Since joining Card Connection four years ago he has expanded his Farnham franchise significantly, creating opportunities to supply numerous new retail outlets.  Therefore, the logical step to continue to increase the size of his operation was to purchase a neighbouring territory when it became available.  Some of our most successful franchisees have found running a larger operation in this way has allowed them to take advantage of economies of scale and as a result increase their profit margins substantially.”
 
Card Connection has limited vacancies for franchisees who are keen to run an expanding business.  Successful candidates would ideally have some management experience as, once established, they would be expected to employ a small team, operate a warehouse and have several liveried vans on the road.
 
Because the franchise networks in the UK and Ireland are 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 £20,000 (+ stock) with earnings potential in excess of £50,000 per annum.

Servicemaster franchise inspires others to franchise

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 Les & Jo Nobes ServiceMaster Banbury
 
Josephine and I bought our ServiceMaster Franchise Location in 1985, as we knew an existing successful Franchisee.  Prior to this, we had been in the Licensed/Restaurant trade, and prior to this I was in the Police Service and Josephine was a Secretary.   By purchasing this Franchise we were able to be earning money from day one, solely because of the reputation of ServiceMaster nationally.  The phone rang at 9.10 a.m. on our first day of business and it has never stopped ringing.
 
The benefits of dealing with a Franchise Organisation are best summed up with the fact that you are never alone.  If you have a problem there is always someone in the network who has experienced something similar.  The other major benefit is due to the expertise of ServiceMaster, not only nationally but also on a global scale, and most of the time you really feel as if you are part of a family.
 
The other major benefit of having this Franchise was that we were quite happily able to work from home with a telephone and a typewriter with little or no disruption to family life.  Working for ourselves gave us freedom to do what we wanted to do, when we wanted to do it although this generally meant that we would have to work harder before, and after we had time off, to catch up.
Running our own business for the last 22 years has given us freedom, which we would not have had, had we been in paid employment.
 
We have always had support and encouragement from ServiceMaster when times have been a little harder in terms of turnover.  Now with the National Marketing Programme it has meant that we have not had to spend time selling ourselves to Insurance Companies, Loss Adjusters etc., as this is part of the current package.
 
I would thoroughly recommend someone who is looking to invest in franchises to seriously consider ServiceMaster.
 

MBE HUSBAND AND WIFE TEAM WIN TOP AWARD FOR CUSTOMER CARE

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Portsmouth franchisees, Christine and Russell Sykes, have received MBE’s coveted “Outstanding Customer Care” award.
 
They were selected from the UK network of more than 100 High Street business services centres, in recognition of their exemplary standards of customer care and to mark their dynamic approach to business.
 
Presenting the award at the franchise’s conference, MBE’s recruitment consultant, Chris Gillam, said: “As well as recognising Christine and Russell’s achievements, we want to acknowledge the big contribution this couple has made to the overall growth and success of MBE in the UK and Ireland.”
 
Russell and Christine were thrilled but very surprised and said:
“When we started, we set out to differentiate ourselves by offering a high standard of customer service. It is fantastic for us that our commitment to our customers has been recognised through this award.”
 
The Sykes opened their MBE centre in December 2003 and had to overcome a major set-back when serious illness struck just two months later. They survived the crisis and went on to build an exceptionally strong business.
 
Previously, Russell always had ambitions to start a business of his own and when redundancy was offered he saw it as the golden opportunity to finance his dream.   However, at that time, neither he nor Christine had considered franchising or knew nothing about it. Russell sought advice from an outplacement counsellor who gave a very positive view.
 
Russell explained: “It was a revelation and very encouraging. We soon discovered the many advantages that franchising offers - of being in business for yourself, but not entirely on your own. There is training and on-going support.
 
“I read about MBE and its many facets in a Financial Times article. Understanding the way that old-style corporate life was changing, with the growing trend towards more outsourcing, I could see that with MBE there would be plenty of opportunities for a range of different income streams,” Russell continued.
 
Christine and Russell really liked the people at MBE and agreed that the franchise met their criteria, so they decided to go ahead. They were delighted to have found a business where they could work together and that offered enough flexibility to fit around family commitments.
 
Unfortunately, Christine became seriously ill within weeks of opening the centre and was unable to work. Russell says: “MBE was extremely supportive during this time, which was invaluable while I was juggling running the centre with hospital trips and looking after our two children. It made me realise how glad I was that we had bought a franchise and not started a business from scratch. I don’t think we would have survived if we had been entirely alone,” Russell said.
 
Christine recovered and was back again after a year when the business really began to take off. Over the next two years, the business doubled in size and continues to achieve healthy year-on-year growth.
 
Russell concluded: “We are very pleased indeed with our franchise and, naturally, with our award. I don’t think either of us would ever want to be employees again.”

Tumble Tots franchise goes for gold

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We haven’t been disappointed!
Franchising was an attractive option for us, as it gave us the opportunity to run our own business but with the safety net of an established brand.

Tumble Tots was our preferred choice because it had a strong brand name and we had seen the benefits our own children had gained from being involved in structured physical activity from a young age.

 The fact that Tumble Tots were full members of the British Franchise Association and had a proven track record made our decision much easier and we felt our own experience and enthusiasm, along with the expertise and support of the Tumble Tots team made for a winning combination.

Signs to stay!

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Signs Express (Crawley) has helped put the finishing touches to the Felbridge Hotel’s refurbishment project.
 
The Felbridge Hotel in East Grinstead recently completed a full refurbishment and with help from Signs Express (Crawley), has created a new and contemporary feel to the four star hotel. The Crawley centre set to work creating a number of signage solutions including interior directional signage and name plates to distinguish the restaurant, bar areas and the hotel spa.
 
The Anise Restaurant is an award winning two-rosette fine dining experience and required an elegant sign to fit with the stylish intimate theme and subtle lighting of the restaurant. The Bay Tree Brasserie and the Qube Bar both required a more informal and relaxed look, and both needed signage that incorporated the modern design and warm friendly atmosphere. As well as the restaurant and bar areas, Signs Express was also given the task to create an ideal sign for the Chakra Spa, using neutral tones to help rejuvenate the spa.
 
Centre owner, Nigel Wood commented: “The Felbridge Hotel gave us the original artwork to produce the signage and gave us the opportunity to then interpret their design into attractive signage solutions. In this case we tried to stick to a similar theme so that each sign would in turn complement one another. Folded aluminium trays formed the basis and built up lettering and polished steel brought each sign to life.”
 
Stuart Noble at the Felbridge Hotel said: “We are really pleased with the end result.  Signs Express has a great reputation and they offered a competitive price compared to other sign-makers in the area. They delivered a speedy service as well as a professional end result.”
 
Signs Express is the UK and Ireland’s leading signs and graphics company. With over 80 centres nationwide, it is capable of dealing with an array of signage requirements at competitive prices and to efficient timelines. Products include: interior/exterior signage; window and vehicle graphics; banners and exhibition displays; and health and safety signage as well as labels. Signs Express (Crawley) opened its doors in 2004 and has carried out the production of a number of signs for the likes of Shell, Barclays, Audi and local councils and schools.

Martin & Co Chelmsford Launched

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David Sherratt and his business partner Rashmi Varma had no hesitation in grabbing the opportunity to launch Martin & Co in Chelmsford with both hands.

“We felt we had something significant to offer the local lettings market and feel we can become a key player. Our starting point is obviously Martin & Co’s growing name, brand and reputation,” said David, who has more than ten years experience in managing his own property portfolio as well as being an adviser to the financial services industry.

Rashmi has a background in internet technology, providing sales, support and client account management services.

David believes there is a gap in the market for a quality, service oriented approach. He was disillusioned by how his own properties were managed while he was abroad.

They did their homework first before arranging a meeting with Martin & Co. The Internet was particularly useful for carrying out desk research. Using the www.whichfranchise.com site provided them with information that was broad in its content. Initially they were undecided about the type of franchise to purchase or whether to buy a resale. This site contained details on various options available if franchising was the chosen business route. It was also possible to check details such as bfa membership and seminar dates - all on the one site.

Combination of Skills Makes Recognition a Success

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Sally Findlay
Mid Surrey

Why did you choose Recognition Express?

The type of work I would be doing each day suited my strengths and preferences. It required some use of the knowledge I had acquired in previous jobs. The franchise didn’t require an ongoing financial burdens right from the start, like rent and wages, so I could grow the business at my own pace. It required a good combination of using my computer skills, people skills and also printing products.

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

My training course was thorough and covered all I needed to know to get me started. In the first few months I had lots of questions about printing or sourcing items and phoned often and the support was always there and any problem always got sorted or answered. The marketing materials are excellent, the website and technical services are always being expanded, new products are brought in occasionally as needed.

How was your first year in business?

I didn’t quite make my target for sales but I enjoyed it and wasn’t far off. Plus I probably spent extra time putting things in place for the future, internally and with external customers, so in my second year I exceeded the target and the groundwork in the first year really paid off.

How do you see your business progressing?

In the next year it will be just about building on what has gone before and getting more clients and developing those we have. My husband has now given up his job (at the beginning of year 3) and is full time as well which has released me to do sales and marketing only. We will need bigger premises in the next year to two years. We already outsource book-keeping and occasionally have extra people in to do big jobs, that will happen more and more. I expect to have to invest in some further equipment but I am not sure whether that will be embroidery machinery, engraving or a large format printer. That will also depend on what happens elsewhere within the network so I can work effectively with the other branches of Recognition Express around me.

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

It is an excellent company with helpful staff at the Franchisor’s office and some very professional fellow franchisees. I’d recommend it to anyone who is willing to work hard and wants to see a return on that investment.

Expansion plans ahoy for Portsmouth

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TWO YEARS after launching (December 2004), franchisee Andy Jest is opening new shop front premises at 157 Havant Road, Drayton, (Portsmouth). The new office will serve Waterlooville, North Portsmouth and Hayling Island and features a dedicated property management centre to look after existing managed properties.

Commenting on his move Andy said: “This is a great move for us and I am absolutely delighted. We have started from scratch from and we have become a leading name in the local lettings and property management market in very short time.”

The current Southsea operation at 171 Eastney Road will continue to look after landlords and tenants in Southsea exclusively.

Andy added that he was particularly pleased at having been able to open a property management centre in the new office, dedicated solely to looking after existing landlords. “This will enable us to deliver an even better service to landlords who increasingly look for a much more personalised service.”

A new Martin & Co office is due to open in Fareham & Gosport in the New Year, strengthening the company’s substantial presence along the South Coast even further (adding to the existing offices that stretch from Poole to Eastbourne).

Belvoir franchise high achievers awards

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Belvoir’s Andover franchisees, Phil Pinkney and Greg Greatbatch, have won a major accolade as the franchise’s “Most Improved Office” for 2006, having bought an existing outlet in 2005 and tripled its turnover in just one year.

Announcing their award, Belvoir co-founder and CEO, Mike Goddard, said: “Phil and Greg’s achievement is phenomenal. They have been dynamic and greatly expanded their original business, demonstrating their belief, dedication and passion.”

Before becoming franchisees, Phil had enjoyed a 30 year career in travel, four years of which was with a travel franchise, giving him an insight into the franchising concept. Greg had spent 15 years in the motor industry, as after sales manager for Saab, Volvo and Chrysler dealerships. Co-incidentally, Phil and Greg are brothers in law.

Both were keen to run their own business and believed that the training, back-up and on-going support of a major franchise would ensure they made a quick start and would enable them to achieve their ambition to be the boss. They researched the market place thoroughly, reading all the relevant magazines and newspapers and visiting a franchise exhibition.

They were most impressed by Belvoir and were delighted when they were able to buy an existing outlet when it became available. Following intensive induction training, they were soon up and running, ready to take the reins and confident that there was plenty of support and advice if they needed it.

The business soon began to pick up and sales rose consistently, month on month. Belvoir Andover is now the preferred lettings agency for military establishments in the area, which greatly increases business from both tenants and landlords.

“What especially appealed to us about Belvoir was the strong brand and the consistent growth of the network, now with 97 outlets. We are enjoying the benefits of independence and being able to run our own business but especially value the support we receive and the “added value” business assets such as the bespoke legal advice line that Belvoir provide. It is imperative that we are always up to date with the law to give proper advice to our clients,” Greg and Phil said.

Six months after they set up their franchise, Phil and Greg moved to a prominent high street site. Belvoir Andover has the distinction of being the only lettings specialist in the town with a proper town centre shop frontage. Being so visible has increased the business markedly – and tripled the turnover.

Showing Signs of Success

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Steve Read, owner of Signs Express (Aylesbury), has been open just under a year but is already showing all the signs of success as he describes his franchise choice and his business progress so far.

“Before I became a Signs Express franchisee, I had spent 25 years in the RAF as a navigator on the Tornado Ground Attack aircraft. I reached a natural break in my contract period and could have stayed and although I loved my time in the military I wanted a new and different challenge. The timing was also right with my family and children settled so I decided to make the break.

I had an aspiration from an early age that one day I would start my own business and following 25 years in a large organisation I wanted to run a smaller concern where I could take decisions on my own and which would take effect immediately.

Although I had a lot of management experience from the military I did not have a lot of commercial experience so a franchise with a proven record and excellent support seemed a logical choice. I looked at many different franchises and in particular I focused on the business model and support provided from the various franchisors. Some franchisors offer the world but with little to substantiate it so I was drawn to a more established franchisor with a proven track record and the potential market for signs and graphics is enormous. This ultimately led to me setting up the Signs Express (Aylesbury) centre.

It has been a huge change moving from the armed forces to a start up business and the thing I noticed first of all was that running a business could be a lonely position to be in. However, with the support of the Signs Express HQ staff and the other Signs Express centre owners this was made much easier – there is rarely a day goes by without some form of contact with the rest of the group.

The first year is always going to be the most difficult and has been extremely busy for us, but also thoroughly rewarding as we have had a great start to the business, exceeding our targets before the year end. The key is definitely hard work but also simply following the basic principles that we were taught in our training. Our aim is to be noticed above our competitors, provide excellent service and quality products and market ourselves, with support from HQ, in any way we can.

One of the most satisfying feelings is when you first start to get repeat business. This means you have satisfied customers and is the foundation for the future.

My goal is to continue to grow the business and also give those working for me more responsibility as time goes on. This will allow me to focus on the wider issues involved in business planning – who knows maybe even on the golf course!

In the longer term I look to other franchisees and see the possibilities – so am very excited about what the future will bring.”

A New Start for David Brown

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Safeclean’s latest franchisee is quickly settling into his new role after a complete change of career.

David Brown of Shoreham by Sea, recently began his new business as a furnishing care specialist after spending the majority of his working life with a major UK bank. The switch to a more hands on approach was one of the factors to appeal to David, “I wanted a complete change, away from an office environment. My Safeclean business gives me the opportunity to get out and about and meet people.”

After deciding that he wanted to run his own business, David took some time looking at different franchise companies and sectors. “I’d decided I wanted to be my own boss for quite a while. However, the package and support that you receive from a major franchise company was reassuring and helped to support my decision.”

After visiting a number of franchise companies, David decided upon Safeclean after being impressed with what was on offer. “Safeclean provided me with a complete package to start my business and to carry it forward. As well as being competitive in price, the training and support is first class and what I expected from a full BFA member.”

Providing services in an untapped market however was what really appealed to David, “There’s a great opportunity to make money from the furnishing care and to be well rewarded for the actual services I provide.”

Although still early days, David is happy he made the right choice, “Becoming part of a franchise was definitely the right move and Safeclean are definitely the right franchise. It’s hard work but I’m looking forward to growing my business in the future.”

For further details of the franchise opportunities available within Safeclean throughout the UK, please visit www.safeclean.co.uk.

Silver is a Sign of Success

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Having worked for over 10 years as a Highway Network Manager, Stuart Harrison was hungry for a new challenge. After visiting the National Franchise Exhibition and researching a number of franchise opportunities, Stuart was awarded a management franchise with Signs Express in 1995.

In recognition of Stuart Harrison’s commitment and adherence to the franchise system Managing Director, David Corbett, presented Stuart the Silver award for Franchisee of the year 2001.

“When the chance of voluntary redundancy arose, I applied knowing this would be the perfect opportunity for me to change my career. Unfortunately, it took three applications for my request to be accepted, so the change didn’t happen as quickly as I would have liked. Finally I was in a position to consider the options available to me and I attended the National Franchise exhibition at the NEC to find out more”.

“There were a couple of franchises which interested me but Signs Express stood out from the rest. The staff were friendly and approachable and I found the literature I was given very comprehensive. I left the stand feeling convinced that Signs Express was the franchise for me”.

Stuart went to visit the Signs Express head office, where he found the professionalism which had attracted him to the stand at the exhibition, communicated throughout the company. After further discussions Stuart was awarded a franchise for Milton Keynes and opened his doors with one other member of staff in November 1995.

“The support I received when I first set up the centre was far beyond what I imagined. A comprehensive training course and help with finding staff and premises meant I was positive about the venture from the first day of trading. Ongoing support and advice in all areas has also helped me remain competitive”.

“The course also made me realise the full potential of signage. I was able to offer a full range of services from interior to exterior signage, exhibition boards and vehicle graphics; helping me build my customer base over the years”.

Now operating with four staff, Stuart’s business is booming and with an ever growing customer base, the future looks bright for Signs Express in Milton Keynes.

Signs Express is a well established franchise with over 85 centres nation-wide and is the UK’s largest sign company.

Fulfilling His Ambitions

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Taking redundancy three years ago enabled Peter Petersons to fulfill his ambition to have his own business.

Previously, he had worked in the UK and all over Europe as an IT specialist. He decided that the time was right to become his own boss and thought that franchising was the right way to go about it. He began his research into franchising by reading a specialist magazine and then visited an exhibition, where he met MBE for the first time.

Peter explains: “That visit was an excellent opportunity to see the various franchises on offer and to narrow them down to a shortlist. I liked MBE particularly because I felt it fitted with my previous IT career. I wanted to work in a proper business with the opportunity to grow and expand.

“Another major consideration was that MBE is well established and, with more than 4,500 centres around the world and its UPS connection, it has a lot of credibility.”

After the exhibition, Peter visited MBE’s head office and, once he had decided to make the commitment, he researched his chosen area with MBE’s help. He opened his centre in Weybridge in November 2002 and, already, is planning to take on another centre in a nearby town.

Peter enjoys being a franchisee, running his own show and the variety of the work. He comments: “If you choose the right franchise, you are supplied with a business model that works. You have the benefit and experience of other franchisees. You buy into a system rather than doing it all from scratch, which enables you to avoid making costly mistakes.

“You are provided with everything you need to start up. Franchisees pay for ongoing support from the franchisor but I feel I’m getting good value for money from my franchise fee - MBE’s head office is always there when I need advice or help.”

When he is not hard at work, Peter play bass guitar and is an active member of a Latvian band called Arvids un Mursiteji (roughly translated as Harvey and the Wallbangers). He is also interested in photography.

Staking his Success in the Board Business

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Since starting his Agency Express franchise business in the Maidstone area in May 2003, Mervyn Pearce has experienced success far beyond his expectations, servicing over 60 estate agent offices on a day to day basis in the Tonbridge, Tonbridge Wells, Maidstone and Sevenoaks areas.

Agency Express is the UK’s largest estate agency board contractor, erecting and removing ‘For Sale’ boards for estate agents in over 70 areas across the country.

Such is the success of the business, in just a little over a year Mervyn has expanded the operation by adding another vehicle to the fleet and employing another board operator, Alan Fagg, to cope with demand.

Mervyn, who lives in Ashford, was previously employed as a lorry driver. His desire to set up his own business and spend more time at home with his family then led him to meet with Agency Express Managing Director Steve Watson. Mervyn was allocated a franchise from the company to operate in the Maidstone area in May 2003 and has not looked back since.

Mervyn said, “Over the past year I have been able to develop links with estate agencies and letting agents in and around Maidstone and Sevenoaks and hope to achieve further success in the future. We are able to respond quickly to requests from estate agents, providing a speedy and reliable service they can depend on. Agency Express has fantastic growth potential, tapping into a previously unexplored service”.

He continued, “The support and back up from head office has been invaluable and the reputation of Agency Express means I have benefited from guaranteed repeat business from well know agents such as Haart and Bairstow Eves, as well as working for many Your Move offices in my area. The business is going from strength to strength and I am excited about what the future will bring”.

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