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West Midlands news and case studies:

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


Our first year as a Riverford Organic franchise owner.

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Riverford Organic Farmers Ltd deliver seasonal, organic produce to homes across the UK via their network of franchisees. Husband & wife team, Matthew & Sabrina Carter, purchased a Riverford Home Delivery franchise in September 2015. Here they tell us why they chose Riverford and how their first year has been.

We chose Riverford because we desired the freedom of being self-employed, however, neither of us had run a business before so we felt that a franchise would give us the support we’d need whilst learning the ropes.

As long term customers ourselves, we felt that Riverford’s ethos of providing high quality organic food, whilst supporting local growers and producers and playing an active role in communities, was consistent with our own values and something we wanted to be a part of.

What we did before Riverford

Before taking on our franchise, I (Matt) was an IT contractor whilst Sabrina was a picture editor at the media company where we both worked and met. We were both based in London and had been considering a relocation for some time. We spotted the franchise page on Riverford’s website and made an enquiry.

We’re both very active people who love the outdoors. Cycling and walking are our passions so when we saw that the Herefordshire & Worcestershire franchise was up for sale it seemed like the perfect location.

Training and support we received

Following the application process and being approved, we had a very comprehensive week of training at Riverford’s head office, Wash Farm in South Devon. We then spent a significant amount of time with the out-going franchisee conducting work experience and getting to know the business and the area.

The biggest challenge for us initially, being in a rural territory, was finding all of our customers’ homes! Once we became familiar with our territory it all became a lot easier and we soon got to grips with the daily routines.

What we were looking for from a franchise

Our aim when first looking to run our own business was to avoid the daily monotony found in a lot of jobs and nearly a year on, we feel we’ve accomplished this. We don’t really have a ‘typical day’ at work now. Some days we are both out on deliveries, others we are at home responding to customer calls and emails and dealing with the daily office admin. When not out delivering or in the office, we are out and about at various events promoting the business.

We’re very pleased with our performance in the first year. As well as maintaining our loyal customer base, our new customer numbers have grown significantly and is currently one of the strongest, year on year, performing territories in the franchise network.

How our business has grown

We’ve found that the most effective way to grow our business and engage with people has been to attend as many face to face events as we are able, such as local food festivals or community gatherings. This has provided a great opportunity to meet existing customers and of course, the opportunity to encourage other people to give us a try and to start regularly ordering with Riverford. As a direct result, we’ve seen a steady stream of new customers week on week. We’ve built relationships with our customers, advising them we sell more than just vegetables, which has boosted the average spend as they’ve become more familiar with the 300+ products that we sell.

Challenges we have met

Running our own business has been a challenge but one so far one we’ve enjoyed very much. We’re lucky that we were able to choose a territory that suited our needs and lifestyle. Relocating from London was a big decision and although we miss some elements of living and working in the city, the countryside and running our own business has given us a whole new way of life. Working together has been great and we’ve used our individual skills to make the business work for us; Sabrina is the social media and PR whizz, whilst I’ve enjoyed the customer service side.

Plans for the future

When the time comes to hang up our Riverford van keys, I plan to further my education in the field of environmental policy and Sabrina would like to one day find employment in the communications sector for a non-profit organisation.
 

Taking the plunge to becoming a care franchise owner

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Name: Sarah Slater
Location: Rugby
Franchise: Home Instead Senior Care Rugby

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your Home Instead franchise business?
I was studying for a degree to become a teacher and working full time for Home Instead Senior Care Market Harborough as a scheduler.

But I was inspired to set up my own franchise after losing my mum Angela to breast cancer two years ago at the age of just 52. I was left feeling that I wanted to ‘do something with my life’ and make a difference to others, so I took the plunge and branched out on my own in Rugby.

What attracted you to franchising versus started starting up on your own or finding employment?
I had seen Market Harborough grow from strength to strength and liked the support that you receive from the network. Home Instead has a true family feel and the support is always there if you need it.

Why did you choose Home Instead? What research did you undertake?
I studied Home Instead Market Harborough and completed some internet research, I had always wanted my own business but never found anything that appealed to me until I found Home Instead.

How did you raise the finance for funding your franchise? Did you use any financial support (grants etc.) specific to business start-up?
I had to remortgage my house for a small amount and borrowed a large amount from the bank using the government enterprise finance scheme.

Did you take advantage of any support available to women looking to get into business?
Yes networking is key, I often attend networking groups all over the area.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing from your franchisor?
The training and support is fantastic, I had several days training at the National Office and they provide all of the information to get started.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
No day is ever the same working in care, a typical day would be answering calls, networking, delivering quality care, payroll and invoicing.

What challenges have you faced?
Due to our growth and great reputation recruiting enough staff to meet demand is always a challenge.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
It hasn’t changed my life but I am happier in my work and I feel a great sense of achievement.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
Someone who is hardworking, dedicated and able to manage a team. If you look after your staff the business will run smoothly.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give other women looking to start their own business through franchising?
Make sure you do the research, many franchise businesses are not that successful. Look into the support that you receive and don’t be afraid to take a risk.

What are your plans for the future?
My plans are to continue running the business with the fantastic team that I have in place. I will always strive to be the best and deliver the quality care that our clients deserve.

Would you do it again?
Yes I have no regrets at all but I cannot say it has been easy. It is hard work.

Exclusive interview: Looking to retire after 22 years of successful franchising!

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Name: Gary Wolchover
Location: Telford, Shropshire
Franchise: Signs Express
Date launched the franchise: 1994

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

Originally from London, my wife and I decided we wanted a more rural lifestyle so we moved to Shropshire in 1993. We live in Much Wenlock, a very attractive small market town. Previously, I had been an accountant which was a bit at odds with my outgoing personality!

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

Having worked hard for other people I decided to do it for myself this time. We took a year out and backpacked around the world in 1992 and thought we might find a workable idea on our travels. Inspiration did not strike and so we went to the franchise show to look at the opportunities available.

We wanted to enter in to the business-to-business sector so we could work office hours but it’s also known to be a highly lucrative sector. When we met Signs Express we were impressed by their professionalism and although we didn’t know anything about signage we knew our other business skills would be a good match.

Why have you decided to sell your Signs Express business?

After a successful 22 years of trading, my wife and I are now wanting to retire.

What’s the key selling points of your business?

We have an excellent reputation and a great customer base. We concentrate more on large organisations but still have plenty of smaller customers. Most of our orders are from existing customers. Telford is a vibrant, expanding economy. There is huge scope to grow the business.

It’s also important to point out that the price of our business has recently been reduced to £95k to facilitate a quick sale. It had been on the market for offers in excess of £125k.

This opportunity can be highly lucrative for the right candidate and as a management franchise, you need no previous sign industry experience to join the Signs Express network.My wife and I are living proof of this. There are numerous advantages and support on offer to a new franchisee:

  • Dedicated marketing support
  • Proven business model
  • High earning potential
  • Established for more than 22 years
  • Our website – Your shop window
  • Buying power of the UK’s largest sign company
  • Share of 1000s of sales enquiries we generate
  • Full training and ongoing support from UK based HQ
  • Brand awareness as the most searched signs brand on Google
  • Dynamic, creative and diverse industry

What are the other benefits of buying a resale?

Buying an existing franchise centre is perfect for those who want to hit the ground running and continue progressing an already successful operation. Signs Express (Telford) is a ready-made business that will enable you to walk in from day one with a full set up, staff, customer base and sales.

What is a typical day for you as a Signs Express franchisee?

I like to get in early to get through some tasks before our staff come in. Tea is made and then deliveries start to arrive and the emails and calls gather pace. Most days I will have some appointments with customers as well.

It is great to be based in a town that has excellent road networks so traffic jams are never an issue. Our dogs come to work and I take a break during the day to take them for a run and grab some fresh air. After that it is a case of talking through enquiries with customers and getting the quotes out. Then placing orders for raw materials, liaising with staff and checking completed work for any quality issues. It’s an incredibly diverse, rewarding day.

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

It is wonderful to be my own boss and know that the work I put in benefits me directly. Also great not to be part of corporate structure and not have directives imposed from on high that I may disagree with.

We have many really great customers and I enjoy interacting with them. As we are business to business I know it is always in my power to get out there and increase sales.

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

Find something you will enjoy doing where boredom won’t set in. I love the sign industry as new technologies and products are constantly becoming available as well as diverse work that comes in from our customer base. For me a Monday-Friday, office hours’ operation was important so I can enjoy living and making the most of all that Shropshire has to offer.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

Good interpersonal skills are really important in order to build successful relationships with customers and staff. You need to accept that you won’t be an expert in every area of your business and value the skills of those around you. Take advantage of help and advice from the franchisor and also other franchisees – you are not alone!

Be prepared to work hard, pick yourself up when things don’t always go your way and most of all enjoy your business.

To find out more about this Signs Express franchise for sale, click here

Exclusive interview with Mark Tonks, LMI, West Midlands

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Name: Mark Tonks
Location: West Midlands
Franchise: Leadership Management UK, LMI-UK

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your LMI franchise business?
I had spent 20 years working in the surface coatings industry and for more than 50% of that time in senior leadership positions.

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose LMI?
I had personally experienced the training by LMI as a client so when I had the opportunity to move I contacted them immediately to enquire about the franchise opportunity

How did you raise the finance?
I used my redundancy payment to fund the franchise fee

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
Full sales & product training alongside regular 1 to 1 coaching and field support.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
Unless I am out at a networking event I start the day around 8.00am with some office admin and then either go out to see potential clients or do marketing activity in the office, email marketing or telephone follow up calls (no cold calling).

I schedule 2 days focused on sales activity and 2 days coaching clients although in the early days it was all sales activity. Late afternoon/early evening before 7.00 I tend to close the day down by doing proposals/admin etc

What challenges have you faced?
The biggest recession in living memory! Survived by doing whatever it took to earn some money, it was very challenging but we got our heads down and grafted. We turned the corner in 2010 and have had consistently growing and profitable years since then

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
It has given me the opportunity to lead my own life, be my own boss and choices not available in employed positions

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?
Remember you are buying an opportunity, not a guarantee. You have to work and work very hard. If you don’t like sales you might find it tough at first.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
Hard work, follow the systems, become a product of your product

What are your plans for the future?
I have a 5 year goal which will allow me to ease off if I want to, for the time being it is still full steam ahead

Would you do it again?
Absolutely

Exclusive interview – Earn a living doing something you love

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Name: Liz Moreton
Location: Stoke Golding, Nr Nuneaton, Warwickshire
Franchise: Oscar Pet Food

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying a franchise business?
I live in a barn conversion on my dad's farm and have 5 dogs – 3 working Labrador retrievers and 2 border terriers. Before setting up with Oscars I taught at a further education college for 18 years and had become stale and disillusioned with it – I also resented the amount of hours I was away from my dogs and my horse (especially in the winter months!) My dad who is in his eighties was beginning to need more help on the farm and my job had no flexibility to do this.

What attracted you to franchising versus started starting up on your own or finding employment?
I liked the idea of a tried and tested system rather than starting something afresh and the support network was attractive to me

Why did you choose Oscars franchise? What research did you undertake?
I looked at several different franchises, narrowed it down to animal related ones as I saw this as an opportunity to earn a living doing something I loved – I wanted to 'want' to go to work in the morning!

How did you raise the finance for funding your franchise? Did you use any financial support (grants etc) specific to business startup?
I was fortunate to have been given the capital needed by a relative

Did you take advantage of any support available to women looking to get into business? E.g. member of a women in business network, attend any specific women business events?
I attended the Women in Franchising Conference on invitation after I had started my business

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing from your franchisor?
The support from the first contact I made with Oscars has been continual – I attended a discovery day initially and they led me by the hand through the process without ever putting any pressure on me (had they and I would probably have run a mile). The training course was intense but great followed by an allocated field trainer when I began – there was and still is a sense of belonging within the Oscar family and there is always someone to go to for advice/support/help be it a member of head office or a fellow franchisee

What is a typical day for you as an Oscars franchisee?
My days are varied but include telephoning customers who should be ready to re order, delivering, answering any questions/problems they may have with their pets, canvassing either door to door or in the local parks for new customers, stock taking / ordering.

In the summer months I attend a wide variety of events – country shows/ charity events / dog shows etc with my marquee and trade stand.

I make appointments with new potential customers and arrange to visit them and their pets with my samples.

As my business grows I also meet new customers who have been referred to me by existing customers.

What challenges have you faced?
Book keeping was a challenge as it was all new to me but again, the support network is in place to assist!

I set myself some tough targets which have proved challenging but doing this gives me the motivation to go the extra mile

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Absolutely – I probably work longer hours but I do it to suit me, I am able to walk my dogs (even in the winter!) ride my horse, help my dad on the farm all whilst building up a successful business. To free up daylight hours I often tackle the admin in an evening but that is my choice

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
I think you need to be passionate about the business itself, be prepared to work hard but also learn to build in ‘me time’ to keep you fresh. You need to be prepared to think outside the box and try different approaches until you find your way, take the knocks on the chin and not personally and continue to enjoy your business growth

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give other women looking to start their own business through franchising?
Research thoroughly, have realistic expectations of income (especially at the beginning) and choose something that excites you – and believe that you can achieve

What are your plans for the future?
I am looking at continuing to grow my business and am currently getting involved with some training with new franchisees which I have enjoyed

Would you do it again?
Absolutely

From manager to owner of a Jackson Fire and Security business

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Lee Fowler knew all about Jackson Fire and Security as he’d worked for them as a Project Manager for three years before launching his Wirral-based franchise in May 2014. While he didn’t know a great deal about franchising, his experience with the company meant he was confident he’d get the support he needed to make sure his franchise business became a success.

Lee had also previously worked as a service manager for another Wirral-based security company so, combined with his time at Jackson Fire and Security, he felt very comfortable taking on the franchise.

He says ‘I was already effectively doing the job in-house so I knew the challenges for me were going to be more about learning how to run my own business and building my client base. But I’m very independent and I was keen to be my own boss. I was ready to put the work in to succeed and the franchise gave me the perfect opportunity to make it all happen.’

Knowing the industry beforehand helped Lee get the business off the ground quickly. He’s received ongoing support and has established a good customer base. Now he’s been running the franchise for a while, what does he like about it in particular?

‘It’s very difficult to choose one thing. I like the flexibility and variety that comes with the work and I like knowing I have the support of a well-established company who have an excellent professional reputation. They have the highest possible industry standards and accreditations and that doesn’t just give our clients peace of mind; it also means the franchisees know they can get great advice and draw on the best possible support and expertise when they need it.’

Realising a dream with a Premier Sport franchise

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Vince Gordon has a true passion for sport and vast experience of working with young people. That’s why he was determined to realise his dream and own a Premier Sport business.

With a £5000 investment and a little help from a government backed initiative, he’s now able inspire the next generation of sporting superstars in Kings Heath, Birmingham.

We caught up with Vince to ask him a few questions about how he first made contact with Premier Sport and the process of purchasing his business with only £5000 to invest.

Vince Gordon lives in Kings Heath, Birmingham with his wife and young son. He’s launched his Premier Sport business in Kings Heath, Birmingham after first making contact with Premier Sport in April.

For 25 years Vince has been involved with the development and training of young people in the local community. He’s passionate about seeing young people achieve their potential and has held a variety of roles throughout his career to help achieve this outcome.

He’s work for 25 years for Connexions in Birmingham as a personal advisor. This challenging role involves developing career education programmes for young offenders. He also has a wealth of experience going into secondary and SEN schools delivering career education sessions and general mentoring programmes. Vince has also delivered employability and sports leadership award to 16-25 year olds not in education, employment or training (neet).

We’re very excited about Vince joining the network as he has a wealth of experience in the education sector plus his warm and friendly manner will allow him to build a successful business.
We caught up with Vince to ask him a few questions about how he first made contact with Premier Sport and the process of purchasing his business....

Why did you want to run your own business within the sports industry?
Since the age of 17 I have had various opportunities to start my own business, but none of them appealed to me. So this opportunity to run my own business using sport and education dovetails nicely with working experience and my interest in sport.

Where did you first hear about Premier Sport?
I was in the position of my current employment being only a one year contract. So I was looking ahead to what my options might be. So as I was delivering a Sports Leaders course and my coaching background, I thought a job as a coach would be enjoyable. I applied for a job with Premier Sport on Indeed. I was then browsing the website and saw the opportunity to have my own business as a Premier Sport franchisee.

Did you speak to any other franchise organisations before choosing Premier Sport?
I did my due diligence before choosing Premier Sport. I went to presentations for other sport franchisees and looking at the franchise model and discussion with a friend who has one with Cash Converters. After this, Premier stood out for me as they weren’t just going to take my money, I would have to pass an interview, before they took my money!!

What was it about Premier Sport’s offering that made you choose them?
The marketing material produce looked really professional compared to others and the fact that they have been in the business the longest. Also the training programme was much more comprehensive than the others.

Did you receive any financial assistance to help you purchase your business?
Yes. I had £5000 to contribute.

If so, how did you access this and what was this process?
To raise the remaining capital, I went through the government led Start up Loans scheme. As I was applying for top end of the amount you can borrow, I went through a very stringent assessment.

I was given very good support by my business adviser and Franchise Finance, ensuring I was able to gather all supporting evidence, along with a very good business plan and the strength of the Premier Sport Brand.

How did you find the initial contact with Premier Sport and the due diligence process?
Meeting Phil at the Discovery Day has changed my working life. He gave me a great feel for Premier Sport what they were about and what opportunity was available. He kept in touch with me throughout the process and with last part of my loan application questions, he said to me “I am on it” so thank you Phil.

How did you find the initial Premier Sport induction training?
The whole of the induction was why I choose Premier Sport. None of other organisations were offering such a comprehensive training package. From the sales to the finance and the practical training, All the new franchisees I have meet on the induction, has also been fantastic as we all have a common goal of running a successful business. With utilising successful franchisees on the delivery of the induction, gave me the feeling I can also be successful, as long as I put hard miles into my business.

Second office launch for Martin & Co franchise

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Mark Beckett, a graduate in business and finance and previously a retail store manager, opened his Martin & Co franchise in Stoke-on-Trent in November 2008. Before joining Martin & Co, Mark had been a business analyst and database manager and had managed 400 people in four different countries which meant that, when it came to managing his Martin & Co franchise, he was well prepared with the skills and experience he needed.

Martin & Co is one of the only property agency franchises that offer lettings and estate agency with UK-wide recognition. With a network of just under 200 franchise offices, they are the largest property franchise business in the UK.

“Franchising seemed like the right choice for me because I had never run a business before and I wanted some handholding and support in setting up a business on my own. With a franchise you get the benefit of an established brand and ongoing training which is reassuring when you’re setting up a business for the first time. I had an ambition to have a successful business but I knew I would not achieve those goals by being independent, so I chose to franchise with Martin & Co.”

“I was a customer of Martin & Co in Nottingham but I hadn’t realised it was a franchise at the time. I liked Martin Crown and had spent time talking to him which was when he told me about the franchise opportunity. I had a meeting at head office which was very constructive and, following that, I knew I wanted to be part of the Martin & Co franchise.”

With high street and online presence, the secret of our franchise owners’ success is that they can provide local property knowledge whilst being backed by a national brand. Martin & Co has been recognised time and time again for their award-winning service by their clients winning Gold for Best Large Letting Chain at the ESTAS in 2009 & 2012 as well as Silver in 2010, 2011 & 2013, and most recently, Bronze in 2014.

“I’m prepared to work hard to make my business as successful as possible but, ideally, I would eventually like to take a backseat role because one of my reasons for buying a franchise was to achieve a better work-life balance. When I first started my business I was quite apprehensive and scared but also extremely excited about the future and growth of my business.”

Mark’s business has been hugely successful so far and he picked up four awards in as many years of trading at Martin & Co’s annual conference. These awards recognise the outstanding achievements of the company’s franchise owners and help to develop trust between the franchise owners and their customers and also sets them apart from competing letting agents in their region.

“There are nearly 200 offices around the country within the Martin & Co national network so for our Hanley office to be ranked up there with the big offices in places like Manchester and London is good news for North Staffordshire; it proves that we can do things just as well as everyone else. Success like this can only help our business further and give much needed confidence to our clients in this largely unregulated industry in which the right choice of letting agency is of paramount importance.”

Mark has recently made the decision to open his second office in Newcastle under Lyme and hopes to replicate the success he has had with his first franchise. Mark aims to transfer the same business ethics and standards that have made his existing branch so successful.

“My advice to anyone looking to buy a franchise would be to be prepared to work long hours and put the work in to see the results you want. You need to develop a thick skin and work with local offices and develop relationships with your neighbours in order to get the most out of your business.”

“My plan for the future is to continue building my business and for my wife, Liz, to play a larger part in the running of the franchise. I also want to bring more managers in so that I can spend fewer hours in the business and take more of a backseat role.”

Franchise owners like Mark take share in their dedicated franchise territories through the marketing, media and public relations support provided by Martin & Co. On lettings income alone, on average, Martin & Co’s franchise owners who are high street based turnover £245k in year 3 and you can expect to build your business to in excess of £380k in just 5 years.

Another successful acquisition for Belvoir’s growing network

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Belvoir would like to announce the recent acquisition of independent lettings agent Key Estate Agents in Attleborough by Belvoir franchise owner Clayton Foston of Belvoir Nuneaton and Hinckley.

Acquisitions give franchise owners like Clayton the opportunity to increase their territory and expand their property portfolio and continue to play a key part in Belvoir’s growth strategy.

Clayton is looking forward to increasing his business presence in the area and says: “I’ve wanted to invest in an acquisition for some time because they help move a business forward, especially in a competitive industry such as lettings.

“There are 14 letting agents on my street alone and, as Belvoir Nuneaton and Hinckley is only two years old, I saw an acquisition as a way of expanding my landlord base and accelerating the growth of my business.

“Key Estate Agents seemed the perfect opportunity because they are a very successful business with a substantial turnover. They are also very similar to Belvoir in that they are a well-organised company who don’t cut corners and keep standards high.
“Investing in the acquisition has multiplied my business by four and I now look forward to offering the Belvoir level of service to more landlords than ever before.”

Commenting on Belvoir’s latest acquisition, Chairman and CEO Mike Goddard says: “Purchases such as Clayton’s show that we continue to follow vigorously our policy of seeking new acquisition opportunities. It is a further example of Belvoir’s strategy to support our Franchisees as they expand their businesses in their local areas whilst also expanding the Belvoir brand.

“We are making good progress expanding our office base across the UK and we continue to look at a number of further acquisition opportunities to support this strategy.”

Interview with Liz Moreton, Oscar Pet Food franchisee for Nuneton

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Name: Liz Moreton
Location: Nuneaton
Franchise: Oscar Pet Food

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose Oscar Pet Food franchise?
I always wanted to run my own business and had looked at numerous alternatives never having the ‘bottle’ to go for it... franchising seemed to be a halfway house and I liked the idea of a safety blanket and also the fact that there would be other people in the same situation as myself

What did you do before taking up your Oscar Pet Food franchise?
After several years working in the travel & tourism industry I had spent the previous 18 years teaching tourism at a local further education college

How did you raise the finance?
I was fortunate to be able to buy the franchise outright as I inherited some money (initially to set aside for a rainy day)

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
The training and support was extensive from the start – I was able to pick up the phone and ask questions / ask for advice at any time without problem before the actual training and ever since. The main training was a 5 day intensive course with a small group of new recruits which was thorough and thoroughly enjoyable – I very quickly felt that I was one of the Oscar family! I was allocated a trainer who spent 5 days one to one with me – she actually helped me do one of my earlier show days! We sorted out what I wanted/what she thought I needed between us and we have remained in touch ever since – another point of contact when I have needed a bit of help/advice

What is a typical day for you as an Oscar Pet Food franchisee?
Walk my dogs, load the van, deliveries, spot of canvassing, phone calls to arrange deliveries,” admin hour”, some days I have a show to prepare for, some days I have to build in a stock take/order or taking delivery of a pallet. I attend a puppy school once a week and give new puppy owners a talk on nutrition. I build in park surveys to meet new customers where I can and do some door to door canvassing when I can

What challenges have you faced?
The whole accountancy has been a baptism of fire for me but again there is always someone there to help at the end of a phone... time management has also been a challenge as my business has grown

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Franchising has completely changed my life – I am free to manage my own time – probably put in longer hours than before but I enjoy my job so much it’s often not like ‘real work’ – eg 2 hours at puppy school chatting to new owners = work!! I also have the flexibility to nip out on my horse now and then (even in winter) as long as I make up the time later

What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow your franchise?
I do puppy school, have recently placed a display stand in a local kennel who buy Oscar food for treats and starter packs, do regular shows and events

What differentiates your franchise from the competition?
Quality of product, delivery service and extras (advice, links to vets/behaviourists) support network

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
Someone who is enthusiastic, prepared to work hard, able to try different things and not take it personally when is goes a bit wrong – someone who is able to listen to others methods but tailor them to suit themselves. You also need to believe in what you’re doing / believe in the product itself

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Research the company thoroughly, try out the product, take your time deciding and speak to as many current franchisees as you can.... new ones and established to get a picture

What are your plans for the future?
Onward and upward as I am until I am too old to carry the bags when I will sell the business (and hopefully be retained as a consultant/helper to whoever buys it)

Would you do it again?
Absolutely – 100%

New franchise owners join the Home Instead family

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Home Instead Senior Care is delighted to welcome three new franchise offices to the network in June 2014.

 

The new franchisees joined us at National Office for new owner training and are all looking forward to starting their new business ventures with Home Instead.

Covering various territories across the UK, the new owners are Michelle Fairless and Gavin Morrigan in Cleveland, Moona Karim in Bedford Borough and Laura Green in Kidderminster.

In addition to the new franchise offices, Chris Daly will be joining his wife Sarah at Home Instead Senior Care Guildford. Chris will join the team as a networker, bringing a wealth of experience from his previous career.

Franchise opportunities at Home Instead continue to attract a lot of attention from candidates from a wide range of industry backgrounds – no previous care experience is required.

Belvoir offices scoops a record eight ESTAS!

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Belvoir is delighted to announce that a record eight offices won regional awards at the Estate & Letting Agent Awards (ESTAS) 2014. This included two Gold Awards and a fantastic clean sweep of Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards for the West Midlands region. Belvoir was also awarded Silver for Best Large Lettings Chain.

TV property expert Phil Spencer announced the results at a lavish awards ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane London, which was attended by 700 of the UK’s top estate and letting agents and industry suppliers.

The ESTAS, now in their 11th year, and sponsored by Zoopla Property Group, uses customer feedback to identify the best agents in the country. Customers are invited to answer a series of questions about the services they have received from their agent, and this year a total of 32,000 questionnaires were completed.

Dorian Gonsalves, Belvoir Director of Commercial and Franchising said: “We are absolutely thrilled that eight Belvoir offices were recognised as winners at this year’s ESTAS. In 2013 six offices won awards and for eight offices to win in 2014 clearly demonstrates our ongoing commitment to customer service.

“I must add very special congratulations to Rosie Callaway and Richard Baker in Belvoir Rugby, Simon and Sally Bell of Belvoir Telford and to Major and Bajinder Mahil of Belvoir Birmingham Central, who achieved an amazing clean sweep of Gold, Silver and Bronze awards for the West Midlands region.

“It was also a fantastic achievement for Andrew and Rosemary Millican of Belvoir Macclesfield to win the Gold Award for the North West (South) region. Andrew and Rosemary recently won the Belvoir Gold Award for Customer Service for the second consecutive year at Belvoir’s Annual Awards and their attention to detail and excellent levels of customer service are legendary throughout the Belvoir Group.

“Other Belvoir winners included Harry and Audrey Coates from Belvoir Perth who won the Bronze Award for Scotland, Adam Rastall and Paul Rice of Belvoir Liverpool West Derby who won Silver in the North West (South) region, Glenn Broadwell of Belvoir Leeds North West who won Bronze in the Yorkshire & Humber region, and to Zoe Bywater of Belvoir Bedford who won Silver for the East of England region. These really are fantastic results.

“I am incredibly proud of all Belvoir’s offices that were finalists and winners at this year’s ESTAs. It is a real honour to be shortlisted and recognises all the hard work and achievements of Belvoir’s franchise owners across the entire network.

“Belvoir has identified many new franchise territories throughout the UK with the potential to be hugely successful and there is no doubt that this is a very exciting time for anyone who is considering a career in property management. Our commitment to customer service, professionalism and specialism through first class training and development are the keys to success and we are already looking forward to the ESTAS 2015.”

On presenting the awards, Phil Spencer said: “The ESTAS are about making people happy, and making a genuine difference to peoples’ lives. An agent’s role is about guiding people through one of the most stressful times in their lives, which is not an easy job. In a world where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make contact with a real person in a company it so refreshing that customers are able to phone almost any agent in the UK and get straight through to a real person. The ESTAS help agencies to focus on customer service levels and that’s why agencies keep coming back”.

CeX franchisee finds benefits of being part of an established successful brand

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Franchisee: Jas Singh
Territory: Dudley
Franchise: CeX

Is this your first CeX?

Yes

What did you do before taking up a franchise?

I ran a chain of family owned convenience stores in the West Midlands with my brother. Before that I ran my own removals company.

Why did you choose franchising?

I wanted to be involved in a retail business that is part of a wider group. I feel it’s valuable to be a part of an established successful brand. With over 200 existing stores and a huge customer base it shows CeX is popular and the business model works. After researching CeX, I knew it would be a lucrative investment for me.

How did you raise the finance?

CeX supported me with lots of help preparing my Business Plan. They introduced me an independent advisor and helped me to negotiate a very competitive finance package that was swiftly approved by the bank.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

This is a large business to run and my biggest commitment has been the time I’ve needed to spend training. You need to know the products and how the model works. I’ve probably spent six months training, following a detailed competency program in various CeX stores in the West Midlands. Learning hands on has been the best way for me.

What challenges have you faced?

The acquisition of a retail premises and the legal negotiations process has been quite time consuming but, CeX used a specialist Solicitor to help manage the process for me and were there every step of the way.

I’ve also recruited a large team of staff and again, CeX helped me with this process. I had hundreds of job applications and we ran an open day from which we appointed staff and planned their training.

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

It’s been busy setting the business up, but I’m aware that you get out what you put in. I’m looking forward running a to very profitable business that allows me some flexibility too.

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

Do your research and take your time. Always ask for help and ask questions.

At CeX you will have a range of support from Franchise managers to the Commercial team to rely on. Use their expertise to your benefit.

What are your plans for the future?
To grow the business and open another more stores. My goal is to have a chain of my own CeX stores.

 

Impressed with the business

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Name: Neil Hatt
Location: Birmingham
Franchise: InXpress

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose Inxpress franchise?
Just before joining InXpress I was working in recruitment, which proved to be a well paid job, but one with very little career progression or security.

My father is a business transfer agent, and came across the InXpress franchise system when effecting the sale of an InXpress franchisee partnership looking to retire. It was the first time he had ever brought anything to my attention regarding operating a business; he was impressed with the system, which meant a great deal to me as he is a very hard man to impress! Looking deeper, I found that the franchise would play well to my strengths; sales, customer service, being aware of costs and margins and so on. I felt that I could replicate the success of the current franchisees, and I could see that InXpress was not just a job, but was instead something that could be built into a very profitable business.

What did you do before taking up your Inxpress franchise?
I attended an open day, where I met with the InXpress support team, and they explained in great detail the system itself and how it worked.
I then spent a few days with various franchisees, discussing their likes and dislikes, watching their procedures and gauging their success.
From that point, I sat down with my girlfriend (now wife!) and discussed what starting up the business would mean to us financially, both to begin, and in a few years time. We both decided that it was too good an opportunity to pass.

How did you raise the finance?
I utilised savings, and was lucky enough to have my father invest in the start up. I did not need a great deal, as I began by working from my spare room. It didn’t take long to pay back the investment.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
There was a weeklong training course initially, which gives excellent sales techniques and product knowledge, and from that point the support centre has always been available if required – just a phone call or an email away. There are also quarterly regional training and update meetings. What’s more, the franchisees themselves provide a great deal of knowledge and information and questions can be fired out to everyone very easily.

What is a typical day for you as an Inxpress franchisee?
I now have several employees, so my day is very different to when I first started. Currently, I get to work for 9am, and the first order of business is a quick five minute catch up with my staff. I will then take sales aside and run through what they expect to get from the day. They will get started on their sales calls by 9.30am, at which point I too will begin contacting large potential clients I have ‘cherry picked’ and am personally working to bring on board. I adhere to a ‘sacred selling’ format of having no interruptions throughout the morning. I will break at lunch and review the morning activity with customer services, perhaps taking on anything that requires my attention to be resolved.
After lunch I make myself available for sales / customer service assistance, but mainly work on strategies for driving the business forward; crunching numbers, checking statistics and making sure I know where to focus the team for maximum profit and success.

We finish at 5pm. One of the beautiful things about this franchise is that it really is 9am to 5pm once you are over the initial hurdles.

What challenges have you faced?
Handling the growth of the business has been the hardest challenge. My accounting skills were lacking when I first started and so it was frustrating at first dealing with P&L, cashflow and budgets. But as I gained more knowledge in these areas I understood how dangerous explosive growth can be - managing the growth and understanding how it affected my cashflow became of paramount importance and really helped me move the business forward safely.

Recruiting is always a challenge, but that is not particular to this business; people are always your greatest commodity, and nothing of worth ever comes easy!

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
It has changed my life considerably. I was comfortable when working in recruitment, but I didn’t have freedom. This franchise has given me true freedom; being able to take 7 holidays in 11 months and have your business still grow is a fantastic feeling. I am able to have time for myself and my family whenever I need to, and at all times, the business grows. It has given me true financial security, freedom and an incredible sense of achievement.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
If there is a franchise that suits your skill set then don’t hesitate. Franchises have a proven track record; it is not like starting a business entirely from scratch. Look at others in the system of your choice. Are they successful? If so, follow the system and you will be too. Our CEO once told us a great line, “what one man can do, another can do.” It’s true.

Franchising seems to have a poor reputation in the UK, which seems very odd to me. I would urge people into franchising and in fact go out of my way to do just that – I’ve helped recruit several people into InXpress as I believe in it so strongly.

InXpress really has changed my life; I want others to have that too.

What are your plans for the future?
I would like to expand. I plan to have a manager working this particular office, which will completely free my time to look at another area or business opportunity. It is a fantastic feeling to have the profit and security to be able to take a step back and look at where / what you want to do. My mind is purely on expansion.

Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat!
 

Rewards of being your own Sign Express franchise boss

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Joe Smith opened the doors of his custom designed sign making centre back in June 2006 at the age of 29. Since then he has become a family man supporting his wife and son as well as continuing to run his successful Signs Express centre based on the Saxon Business Park, Bromsgrove.

1. What did you do prior to becoming a Signs Express franchisee?

After leaving school I worked in many sectors including hospitality, distribution, the motor trade and building. I then worked for several years as an Account Manager for an Advertising Agency which lead into working as a Graphic Designer. I grew up in the sign industry as my father has worked in automotive corporate identity for 40 years this background allied with the various industry skills learned have paved the way to the sign industry for me.

2. What made you decide to buy a franchise?
When I decided to start up my own business I was only 28, I had some business skills already but knew that I could benefit from the expertise available from a support network. It’s always daunting to set up something new but after I had been to a couple of the franchise shows I decided that franchising was the best option for me. Franchising gave me the comfort of knowing that help and expertise were on hand in all areas of the business from operations to HR, marketing, accounts and technical support.

3. What have been your biggest rewards from having your own business?
My biggest rewards are being my own boss, and having the flexibility and time to spend with my family. The signage industry is always progressing and helps to keep the work varied which keeps the job interesting.

4. What has been your biggest order to date?
We recently had a school new build which was a £40k job; school signage is one of the areas we specialise in.

5. Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
Happy and successful.

It’s always daunting to set up something new but after I had been to a couple of the franchise shows I decided that franchising was the best option for me. Franchising gave me the comfort of knowing that help and expertise were on hand in all areas of the business from operations to HR, marketing, accounts and technical support.” - Joe Smith, Franchisee, Signs Express (Birmingham SW)

Make a difference with Home Instead franchise

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Franchisee: Judith Herrod,
Franchise: Home Instead Senior Care
Territory: Stone, Staffordshire
 
Judith Herrod took ownership of the Stone franchise in Staffordshire in January 2008.
 
If you ask Judith why she became involved in the care business she will tell you about her parents, an independent couple in their 70’s who travel abroad almost every month and who enjoy life to the full. She will then tell you that their biggest fear is losing their independence.
 
Like many others who are involved with Home Instead Senior Care, Judith fully understands the importance of supporting the elderly in their own homes and sees how, by providing this care, elderly people can gain many years of independent living.
 
When you ask Judith how she became involved in care she laughs: “I woke up in New York on my 50th birthday and thought – what shall I do with the rest of my life?” Judith had always been interested in the franchise model for businesses so on arriving home she went on the internet and searched for the latest franchise opportunities. It was here that she read about Home Instead Senior Care, Judith continues: “I saw the words ‘Making a Difference’ and that was it, I just knew this was the business opportunity for me.”
 
Prior to purchasing her franchise Judith had enjoyed a successful career as Head of Fundraising for a well-known children’s hospice in the Midlands, and before that had owned and run an estate agency/property management company in the Costa Del Sol with her husband.
 
Whilst Judith found her fundraising role with the hospice hugely rewarding, she did find it unrelenting. “At times I felt like a hamster on a wheel. We constantly had targets to meet and it seemed never ending. I was good at what I did and the job was well paid but I suppose when I hit 50 I decided that I needed to be my own boss again, but I still wanted to do something worthwhile.”
 
Judith’s friends think she is crazy setting up on her own but she says: “I have less stress now than in any of my previous jobs. Home Instead is already operating as a successful and proven business model so all the systems are there – it’s just down to me to get on with it. The team at head office are great and are there if I have any queries or need any additional support.”
 
She continues: “What’s really unusual is that there are no targets to meet other than those I set myself. This is the first private company I’ve found that has the ethos of the voluntary sector – they really do want to make a difference. I’ve never been happier.”
 
 

Tapping into a gap in the market with Merry Maids

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I was a sales person for a company supplying and maintaining plant displays in hotels, banks, offices etc.
 
I was looking for a change in my career and was aware of the need for reliable domestic cleaners in the area I live; I decided to research various options for starting my own business.
 
I was attracted to franchising as I had no previous business experience and the franchisors proven system covered all these needs in their training programme. Plus I was looking for the ongoing support that a franchise gives.
 
After researching some alternative franchises I found I particularly liked Merry Maids due to it having a strong brand name. I also liked the camaraderie which now enables me to share with other franchisees our experiences and knowledge.
 
The thing I most about working for myself is the independence I have in running my cleaning franchise business.
 
There are many benefits in running my own business; mainly I have been able to build up my business to the point where I do not have to be working in it everyday. Meeting with other franchisees to share experiences is also invaluable.
 
ServiceMaster/Merry Maids contribute towards our support or growth; I can call on the specialised, knowledgeable support personnel when required.
 
My husband and I employ a Manager, Quality Supervisor, Trainer and Maids. The business is run from a unit, which is set up to cater for the growth of our business over the coming years.
 
I enjoyed running and building up my own Merry Maids franchise so much that I joined ServiceMaster to use my knowledge and experience to support other franchisees.

Recognise Success

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Prior to buying a Recognition Express franchise, Alex Newman had worked for the company for six years. 
 
Nigel Toplis – Managing Director, Recognition Express
 
“When you go into a franchise, you need to be sure it’s a business you can trust, with a proven track record. With Recognition Express you can be part of a major success story.”
 
Before you go into a franchise be sure it is one you can trust and with a proven track record:
 
 
 
 
  • bfa Franchise of the Year 2003
  • Over 30 years’ experience and profitability
  • Top Franchise Owners sales over £1million
  • Year on year growth
  • Full member of the bfa since 1980
  • Europe’s number one industry provider
 
It is unusual for a franchisee to have inside knowledge of a franchise prior to joining it, however when Alex Newman became a Recognition Express franchisee his six years’ experience of working for the company meant he had a unique understanding of the business.
 
“Before becoming a Recognition Express franchisee I was working for the franchisor as an IT manager and I was involved with the training of new franchisees,” explains Alex Newman. “Although I looked at other franchises, the fact that I had prior knowledge of Recognition Express was a major reason for me joining. I also liked the fact that the franchise is sales and marketing based with production and design work involved too.”
 
Recognition Express provides businesses with a wide variety of products including name badges, promotional items, corporate clothing and small signs. Franchisees can either produce the products themselves using state-of-the-art computerised equipment or sub-contract this element out and operate as sales and management hubs.
 
Despite having worked for the company, Alex underwent the same training as all new franchisees. “The training was excellent,” remembers Alex. “It covered every aspect of the job such as sales, marketing, accounts and finance, using the software and training on products.”
 
Since the launch of his first Recognition Express in Coventry in March 2005 Alex has had support from the franchisor whenever he needed it: “Due to my knowledge of the company I’ve not needed a lot of support, however I did get support on sourcing products and with accounts. I’ve also needed some help with sales and marketing, as I’d not really has much experience with that aspect. There is also a network of support among franchisees and we all try to help each other out when we can.”
 
With his last year turnover of £200,000 and having opened a second Recognition Express franchise in Warwick in July 2007 Alex is pleased with the way his business is going. “I really enjoy running my own business and being my own boss. Making money for myself and having the flexible hours that comes from working for yourself is great.”
 
Still building-up is franchises Alex advises those looking into franchising:
 
“Be prepare to work harder than when you were employed. Also make sure you check out the franchise before you sign-up, I was lucky to have inside knowledge because it is important to know what you’re getting into.”
 
Sir Bernard Ingham, bfa President
 
 “I have always found Recognition Express to be a model franchise. It is an outstanding example of a company which takes ethical franchising seriously. The benefits are shared by Recognition Express, its franchisees and its customers. And that is why it is successful.”

Card Connection franchise recruits new Birmingham franchisee

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Leading greeting card publisher and franchisor, Card Connection, has today announced that it has recruited a new franchisee for the Birmingham area.  Former convenience store owner, Asif Malik, is now responsible for delivering and merchandising Card Connection’s extensive range of quality greeting cards and gifts to more than 200 retailers in the region which include the likes of Netto, Budgens, Londis, Spar and Shell.
 
“I worked with Card Connection franchisees for around eight years as a retail customer,” confirms Asif Malik, Birmingham franchisee for Card Connection.  “I was therefore, well aware of the quality of Card Connection’s products and the company’s award-winning merchandising service.  I did spend some time researching other greeting card companies before buying the franchise but I found none were comparable in terms of the professionalism and dedication I experienced from the Card Connection team.” 
 
“We are delighted to welcome Asif as our newest franchisee,” confirms Andrew Cutler, franchise director for Card Connection.  “His extensive retail and management experience makes him well placed to establish his business quickly.  I know he already has exciting plans to take on additional merchandisers in order to maximise the potential profits of his territory.”
 
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 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.
 

Success at Servicemaster franchise

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Tony Quinn ServiceMaster Contract services Stoke.
 
 
I bought my ServiceMaster Contract Services franchise in January 1997 and after some training, advice and network support I started trading in February 1997. By following the systems that I had been advised and trained to follow by ServiceMaster I gained and started my first cleaning contracts in April. (After 10 years I still service these contracts). I now employ almost 200 staff and have a turnover in excess of £1,000,000.
 
I bought the franchise after researching other franchised operations in a variety of service industries. The ServiceMaster franchise appealed to me because of the relatively low cost of purchase and the opportunity to gain and maintain a regular customer base. Although, as in all businesses, it can be hard work, the rewards can compensate for this in seeing my business grow and develop and the opportunities that it has created for the employment of others in assisting me to run the business effectively.
 
I have found that the network of fellow franchisees of like-minded people with similar issues and businesses to run are of a great help, particularly if you are new to the industry and need support and advice.
 
By following some basic principles and planning I can vouch for a successful ServiceMaster Clean business.

A product I'd be proud to sell

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‘I went into business with WPA because I wanted a product I’d be proud to sell,’ says Keith Iliffe.
 
Keith, 54, has been the WPA franchisee covering Warwick, Stafford and Leamington Spa since November 2006. ‘I know I am selling an ethical product, and that WPA will deliver what I say it will,’ he says.
 
Keith had no experience of financial services before he joined WPA, having worked in hospitality as a business development director, run a sales training consultancy and then a property agency in Spain.
 
‘When I returned to the UK I was looking for a new business opportunity. I had a friend who worked with WPA and saw how much he enjoyed what he was doing.
 
‘I had also had a family policy while in one of my jobs, so knew the service was good,’ he says.
 
After seeing WPA at the National Franchise Exhibition in Birmingham, attending an open day with his wife Jen, and speaking to several franchisees, he decided to take the plunge.
 
‘WPA’s training gave me a thorough grounding in the products, which is vital because it is your product knowledge that gives you credibility with customers,’ says Keith.
 
‘It is certainly not the hard sell. I am more like a consultant or advisor, listening to my customers’ needs and guiding them as to their best product choice.’
 
After two years in the business he is planning to employ his wife Jen in the New Year to support existing clients and help with claims issues, leaving him more time to concentrate on sourcing new business.
 
He advises others considering a WPA franchise: ‘Don’t be daunted by the idea of selling medical insurance. You get good initial and on-going training and there’s a back-up team at the end of the phone to ask about anything you are unsure of.
 
‘WPA has a sound range of products, and an ethical way of doing business.’
 

Fundraiser joins Home Instead Senior Care franchise

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Judith Herrod is one of our more recent franchise owners and was selected to take ownership of the Stone franchise in Staffordshire. She began trading in January 2008.

 

If you ask Judith why she became involved in the care business she will tell you about her parents, an independent couple in their 70’s who travel abroad almost every month and who enjoy life to the full. She will then tell you that their biggest fear is losing their independence.

 

Like many others who are involved with Home Instead Senior Care, Judith fully understands the importance of supporting the elderly in their own homes and sees how, by providing this care, elderly people can gain many years of independent living.

 

When you ask Judith how she became involved in care she laughs: “I woke up in New York on my 50th birthday and thought – what shall I do with the rest of my life?” Judith had always been interested in the franchise model for businesses so on arriving home she went on the internet and searched for the latest franchise opportunities. It was here that she read about Home Instead Senior Care, Judith continues: “I saw the words ‘Making a Difference’ and that was it, I just knew this was the business opportunity for me.”

 

Prior to purchasing her franchise Judith had enjoyed a successful career as Head of Fundraising for a well-known children’s hospice in the Midlands, and before that had owned and run an estate agency/property management company in the Costa Del Sol with her husband.

 

Whilst Judith found her fundraising role with the hospice hugely rewarding, she did find it unrelenting. “At times I felt like a hamster on a wheel. We constantly had targets to meet and it seemed never ending. I was good at what I did and the job was well paid but I suppose when I hit 50 I decided that I needed to be my own boss again, but I still wanted to do something worthwhile.”

 

Judith’s friends think she is crazy setting up on her own but she says: “I have less stress now than in any of my previous jobs. Home Instead is already operating as a successful and proven business model so all the systems are there – it’s just down to me to get on with it. The team at head office are great and are there if I have any queries or need any additional support.”

 

She continues: “What’s really unusual is that there are no targets to meet other than those I set myself. This is the first private company I’ve found that has the ethos of the voluntary sector – they really do want to make a difference. I’ve never been happier.”

 

 

 
If you ask Judith why she became involved in the care business she will tell you about her parents, an independent couple in their 70’s who travel abroad almost every month and who enjoy life to the full. She will then tell you that their biggest fear is losing their independence.
 
Like many others who are involved with Home Instead Senior Care, Judith fully understands the importance of supporting the elderly in their own homes and sees how, by providing this care, elderly people can gain many years of independent living.
 
When you ask Judith how she became involved in care she laughs: “I woke up in New York on my 50th birthday and thought – what shall I do with the rest of my life?” Judith had always been interested in the franchise model for businesses so on arriving home she went on the internet and searched for the latest franchise opportunities. It was here that she read about Home Instead Senior Care, Judith continues: “I saw the words ‘Making a Difference’ and that was it, I just knew this was the business opportunity for me.”
 
Prior to purchasing her franchise Judith had enjoyed a successful career as Head of Fundraising for a well-known children’s hospice in the Midlands, and before that had owned and run an estate agency/property management company in the Costa Del Sol with her husband.
 
Whilst Judith found her fundraising role with the hospice hugely rewarding, she did find it unrelenting. “At times I felt like a hamster on a wheel. We constantly had targets to meet and it seemed never ending. I was good at what I did and the job was well paid but I suppose when I hit 50 I decided that I needed to be my own boss again, but I still wanted to do something worthwhile.”
 
Judith’s friends think she is crazy setting up on her own but she says: “I have less stress now than in any of my previous jobs. Home Instead is already operating as a successful and proven business model so all the systems are there – it’s just down to me to get on with it. The team at head office are great and are there if I have any queries or need any additional support.”
 
She continues: “What’s really unusual is that there are no targets to meet other than those I set myself. This is the first private company I’ve found that has the ethos of the voluntary sector – they really do want to make a difference. I’ve never been happier.”
 
 

Reaping the rewards at Tumble Tots franchise

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My name is Kirsty Lydeard and I run the Tumble Tots franchise in the Sutton Coldfield area. Before I joined Tumble Tots I was a teacher in primary and special needs education. I really loved being with the children and seeing them learn and achieve different goals, but gradually got fed-up with the ever increasing paperwork associated with the job and the number of hours outside the school day I had to put in.

My own two children had both been Tumble Tots – almost 15 years before (!) and a friend whose little one had just started Tumble Tots suggested it might be something I’d enjoy….so here I am, now in my fourth year.

It’s great to wake-up and know I’m going to be greeted by all those happy faces during the day, to know that ‘my team’ enjoy making the sessions fun for the children and parents, whilst helping the little ones to master new skills and take-on new challenges, and they have fun too. It’s not all just fun of course, it involves lots of hard work, but it’s worth it, knowing you reap the benefits of your efforts. Class numbers have gradually increased and many classes have waiting lists … I’m even considering running a second van and opening more centres… watch this space!

Flying Success with Recognition Express

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Things are going from strength to strength for Alex Newman, who has won an award and expanded his business, Recognition Express Coventry, and all before his 30th birthday!

Recognition Express is a leading franchise organisation which specialises in corporate recognition products such as name badges, branded promotional products, business gifts and signage. Alex launched his first business three years ago, aged just 27.

Last year, Alex’s brother Bill joined him as office manager, allowing Alex to focus on driving the business and his efforts are paying off – orders are flying in and this year he received the Terry Howorth Award for Excellence in Business. He was selected for the award out of Recognition Express’ other 46 franchisees, thanks to an impressive turnover, repeat business orders and a strong profit.

Following his increased success Alex has also bought the Warwick franchise, allowing him to cover an area from Stratford-Upon-Avon to Coventry, taking in Leamington Spa, Warwick, Rugby and Nuneaton.

“My existing business is going really well so I jumped at the opportunity to buy the Warwick territory, which has great potential,” said Alex. “I love being my own boss and franchising is a lower-risk way of achieving this – I used to be IT manager at our headquarters, so I knew that opening a franchise would be a good decision. I’m looking forward to the challenge of running the two businesses side-by-side.”

Nigel Toplis, managing director of Recognition Express, added: “Alex is a model franchisee – he has a technical background with little sales experience, but with the supportive environment that franchising provides, he got to grips with everything really quickly. At only 29, who knows what he’ll achieve by the time he’s 40!”

A Mini Adventure for Signs Express

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Got BMW Minis, need new corporate branding. Signs Express contacted. Graphics applied. The end……

…But there’s more to this ‘mini adventure’! West Midlands’ 105.7 Smooth Radio, who are based in Birmingham and broadcast to the West Midlands area, commissioned Signs Express (Birmingham Central) to remove the existing branding and apply new vehicle graphics to their fleet of BMW Minis.

Smooth Radio – formally Saga FM, approached Signs Express (Birmingham Central) for expert graphics advice. As part of the UK and Ireland’s largest sign company, centre owner Jeff Mushtaq was able to provide a professional and efficient service, perfectly recreating the radio stations’ corporate branding.

The Smooth Radio Minis were livered using digitally printed and laminated individually cut vinyl applied to the vehicle. The design represents the station’s local image, including their strap-line ‘105.7 Smooth Radio – Your Life. Your music.’ The eye-catching pink artwork for the graphics used with the blue of the vehicles paint work, is in-keeping with the station’s new branding after changing its name from Saga FM to Smooth Radio. This re-brand depicts the modern outlook of the station and its listeners.

The fleet of vehicles will be used by the stations sales executives to visit their clients and potential advertisers in and around the West Midlands.

Commenting on the job Jeff said: ‘We’re very pleased to be working with Smooth Radio on this part of their branding programme. The radio station has created a large awareness campaign over the last few weeks for their station via TV and outdoor, as well as on the air waves. As the Minis will be out on the road for so much of the day it’s a fantastic opportunity for us to promote our services especially as their designs are so modern and distinctive.’ Research has shown that a busy vehicle is seen by over 3000 people every hour of the working day.

As with all Signs Express centres, Birmingham Central has their own drive-in livery bay, enabling the staff to complete large jobs, such as this branding of a fleet, in a climate-controlled environment – creating the optimum conditions for vehicle graphics application.

Based on Dunton Industrial Estate, Nechells, Signs Express (Birmingham Central), provides a complete design, manufacture and fitting service for all forms of signage including interior and exterior signs, vehicle graphics, window graphics, banners and exhibition products.

Signs Express (Birmingham Central) is the UK & Ireland’s largest sign company with over 80 centres nationwide. Signs Express (Birmingham Central) is a full member of the British Sign & Graphics Association, for further information please contact 0121 328 9088 or log onto www.signsexpress.co.uk

Employee to Employer

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Name : Alex Newman, Recognition Express, Coventry
Commenced Trading : March 2005
Previous Job : IT Support

Why did you choose Recognition Express?

As an employee of Recognition Express Limited I already knew the systems and business model and most importantly, saw first hand that it worked.

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

I was in a unique position as I was already well versed in the production and IT elements of the course. However, I found the sales and marketing training invaluable as these were new to me, as well as the training on the accounts and database systems.

How was your first year in business?

Coming from an IT background I found sales and building customer relationships daunting to begin with. Nevertheless, I followed the systems and processes recommended by the Franchisor which brought us success, and now I’m happy to say this is second nature to me. As a result, the first year was very hardwork but good; we achieved our target.

How do you see your business progressing?

I aim for a yearly growth on turnover and increased margins due to the introduction of large format printing to the product range. At the end of year two I am looking to expand upon our existing customer base by moving to a more sales orientated role and aim to have 20 to 30 key accounts that I deal with personally within the next year.

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

Bear in mind that your are not buying a job and running your own business demands a change in mind-set. Be prepared for plenty of hard work and long hours but you will reap the rewards!

Signs of a vehicle revolution

Mod_L.gif Pioneering vehicle manufacturer Modec recently held their official opening of their new plant and leading sign maker Signs Express (Warwick) were pleased to provide the building signage for the eco-friendly company. The RT. Hon David Cameron MP joined staff and suppliers to officially open the new production plant based in Binley, Coventry.

Modec are the designers and manufactures of the world's first high performance, battery powered, zero-emission commercial vehicles. Over 500 are to be produced at the plant by the end of the year and have attracted the interest of many organisations, including Tesco who have already purchased 15 new vehicles for their home delivery service.

The expert team at Signs Express (Warwick) manufactured and fitted the striking silver acrylic signage for the company headquarters. In total, 5 large internal and external signs were commissioned by Modec for the plant, illustrating the company branding. The largest sign spanned over 8 metres and included silver acrylic moulded lettering. In addition an aluminium tray and monolith sign with built up silver moulded letters were installed. The signs were internally illuminated using low energy LED's, providing more environmentally friendly lighting in comparison with traditional methods.

Signs Express centre owner Andy Slater said: "We wanted the signage to reflect the eco-friendly stance of Modec whilst also being a focal point of the building. Modec are a forward thinking company and we are pleased to be associated with them and wish them every success.'

Commenting on the project James Dex from Modec said: 'It was a great day, the launch went very well. I'd like to say a big thank you to Andy and his team at Signs Express (Warwick) for all their hard work and for getting the signs to us and installing them in such a short time frame - they look fantastic!'

Speaking at the launch The RT. Hon David Cameron MP said: 'Modec has an agenda for the future. I wish the company well - because the truth about carbon change is that we're all in this together. A big congratulations to everybody who has been involved in this project.'

Based on Budbrooke Industrial Estate, Signs Express (Warwick), provides a complete design, manufacture and fitting service for all forms of signage including interior and exterior signs, vehicle graphics, window graphics, banners and exhibition products.

Signs Express is the UK & Ireland's largest sign company with over 80 centres nationwide. Signs Express is a member of the British Sign & Graphics Association, the British Franchise Association and the International Sign Association.

For more information please call 01926 408288 or log onto www.signsexpress.co.uk

Escaping the 9-5 Routine

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Signs Express franchisee Jeff Mushtaq opened his production centre in central Birmingham after previously working as a corporate manager for HSBC. Jeff wanted a complete change and needed to escape from the day to day 9-5 routine, aspiring to start his own business and be in control of his future. He talks about his experiences so far and hopes for the future.

“I decided that a franchise was the best option to suit my needs as it was a tried and tested idea and could provide me with the vital start I needed in business. After much research into many different franchise opportunities, I decided that the signs business was of interest and contacted Signs Express to find out more. As a management franchise, the business proposition gave me the opportunity to utilise my business skills as well as developing my interest in this creative industry.”

“After seeing the Head Quarters, hearing of their experience and professionalism and the amount of support that was offered, I was delighted to be awarded the franchise for Central Birmingham.”

“With no previous experience in the trade; the training, support and advice available from HQ has been invaluable to me, especially as I am only a few months into my business. Ongoing help on any business related subject such as operations, technical support, health and safety and marketing is only a phone call away and I have also been able to benefit from the extensive network of already established franchisees through our company extranet.”

Jeff continued, “We have only been up and running for a short time but are already finding a lot of customers are coming back for repeat or similar orders. Signage is applicable to almost any business, so the opportunity for growth and development across a number of business sectors is enormous. The brand image is what gets us a lot of our jobs, people recognise the brand and realise that they are not working with a ‘fly by night’ company but a reputable business.”

“The business is still in its infancy yet I have been able to achieve great sales so far and have been involved in a number of exciting projects for clients. The biggest satisfaction I get is driving about the city and seeing more and more vehicles and signage we have produced. Every day is different too, which is very challenging yet rewarding.”

Signs Express is a full member of the British Franchise Association and the UK & Ireland’s largest sign company with over 80 centres nationwide.

To find out more about a Signs Express management franchise, visit stand S100 at the British Franchise Exhibition, Manchester G-Mex on the 26th & 27th January, log onto www.signsexpress.co.uk or call Tony Marsh on 01603 625925.

Schools 'sign' up for new term

War_L.gif Providing an extensive signs and graphics service, Signs Express (Warwick) regularly works with Warwickshire County Council to offer a comprehensive signage solution to schools across the County.

With the start of the new term, Signs Express has been working hard over the summer break to provide new signage solutions to several schools in the area to provide improved signage for the new intake of students.

Signs Express (Warwick) centre owner Andy Slater said, "We have provided a diverse range of solutions to some 8 schools in the area this year, ranging from large and varied exterior signage for Ashlawn School in Rugby to over 100 attractive interior door signs for the new Oak Wood Primary & Secondary Schools in Nuneaton. I think these schools have all put some imagination and thought into how their signage should look in order to show their respective schools in the best light and we have worked closely with them all to ensure this happens."

Working in liaison with Warwickshire County Council, Warwickshire DISCS and Widgit Software, Signs Express provides a complete design, manufacture and installation service and has the skills and experience to specify the most suitable products for the application required. All the school signs supplied come with anti graffiti laminate as standard.

Andy continued, "In the case of Oak Wood Primary & Secondary Schools, we worked closely with Rose Marie Scott, the Head Teacher, to develop the idea of including Widgit Rebus Symbols on the signs which makes identification of the rooms easier for the pupils; whilst also making the rooms look more attractive and inviting. The schools and council have received very positive comments. Consideration is being given to extending the signage scheme to other schools in the Warwickshire area so we have been delighted with the response so far".

Miles Marriot on behalf of Warwickshire County Council said, “I would like to thank Andy and his team for the continuing high level of signage production and service we and our schools receive. The comments I receive back from schools are always positive and Signs Express is always able to deliver to the schools requirements and needs, whatever the challenge presented. The same high standard of service is provided whether it be a single sign or for a school project."

Signs Express (Warwick) is part of the UK & Ireland's largest sign franchise and is a member of the British Sign & Graphics Association. Signs Express provides a comprehensive service for all types of signage including interior and exterior signs, vehicle graphics, banners, window graphics and exhibition displays.

Looking for a New Direction

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After a 20 year career in Civil Engineering, Phil Shellam was looking for a new direction and after being made redundant in October 2002, investigated franchising as a way to start his own business.

Three years into his business operating as the franchisee for Signs Express (Worcester), Phil has had tremendous success, with turnover well above projections and also investment in the latest sign making equipment to extend his in-house capabilities and improve profit margins.

Phil said, “Franchising offered a serious opportunity to pull together all the business skills I knew I had. Signs are ubiquitous and so give an excellent opportunity for business development. I did an awful lot of due diligence on sign franchises and Signs Express were streets ahead of all the others I looked at.”

He continued, “All aspects of the business were fully covered in the training and the backup support and advice from the support team at Head Office is invaluable. I have had to be disciplined on following the pricing formula and learning all of the products available but the hard work is paying off and at least I am doing it for my own business!”

“The secret of my success has been my enthusiasm, building a strong team 'like a family', being prepared to market myself by networking and providing very good customer service particularly with local councils helping them develop projects.”

“A very memorable moment was when Worcester City Council asked me to become a signage consultant for them. I had only been trading just over two years at the time and was absolutely delighted. Another real highlight was when I was asked by my Local Business Link Management Centre to talk about my experience of setting up in business. I had never had to speak like this before and received a real buzz when other like minded people wanted to talk to me more about setting up their own business!”

“I am just 3 years into a 5 year plan, however we have already exceeded those expectations! In view of this, I am just about to review our next 5 year plan. My main goal is to grow the business in a steady way and to be more profitable than any other Signs Express by our 10th year!”

“The best thing is, I really enjoy what I do.”

SAFECLEAN WORCESTERSHIRE WINS FRANCHISE AWARD

safeclean_darren2.gif Darren, who has been with carpet and upholstery cleaning firm Safeclean since April 2005, was awarded the title at the company’s annual conference for "achieving record turnover and providing high quality customer service to his customers".

Commenting on his achievement Darren said: "I am really proud to have won this award so soon after starting my Safeclean business. I think it shows the strength of the company’s support network in helping up and coming businessmen like myself to succeed.

"Awards aside, running a Safeclean franchise has been very rewarding and I’m delighted that my efforts have been recognised by my customers and now head office."

Director, Operations for Safeclean, Paul Roberts, said: "With over 20 years experience in the furniture industry, Darren has a great understanding of the investment involved with home furnishing cleaning and he has developed his franchise with this in mind, resulting in an award winning customer service. "Darren looks set to further his business with the same enthusiasm and dedication as he started it out and, although this is his first award as part of the Safeclean team, I'm sure it won’t be his last."

If you think that you have what it takes to succeed as a Safeclean franchisee or you would like more information about the business please call 01235 444705 or visit www.safeclean.co.uk

WEST MIDLANDS WELCOMES NEW SAFECLEAN FRANCHISEE

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Safeclean, the UK’s leading furniture and upholstery cleaner, has appointed Darren Varney as a new franchisee in the West Midlands area. As an experienced former furniture retail manager Darren brings with him a wealth of experience and understanding of furniture maintenance.

Explains Darren: “After working in a furniture retail environment I know what an important investment high quality furniture is for a consumer. This knowledge will allow me to exceed the high standards of furniture care demanded by consumers when I enter their homes.”

Darren’s experience has seen him manage showrooms for companies such as Kingsbury Interiors, Furniture Land and Harveys. He decided to become a Safeclean franchisee because he finally wanted to enjoy the freedom and lifestyle rewards of working for himself.

“Joining Safeclean as a franchisee was an easy choice for me as I’ve sold many products produced by Valspar, Safeclean’s parent company,” continues Darren. “I also know several other franchisees and they all recommended Safeclean without a moment’s hesitation.

“My focus will be on delivering the complete service to my clients, from briefing them before I come into their home to a follow-up phone call after the cleaning to see if they were happy with my service. The West Midlands offers a wealth of opportunities for me because there are so many potential clients. I can’t wait to get started.”

Paul Roberts, Safeclean’s Franchise Operations Director, said: “Darren is a valuable addition to the Safeclean team. His extensive experience of management, sales and marketing will prove invaluable to running a successful business and delivering Safeclean’s brand promise to his customers. I wish Darren every success for the future.”

The appointment of Darren comes as Safeclean takes on a raft of new franchisees in response to the growing demand for domestic cleaning services. Safeclean believe that the change in attitudes to domestic help is being caused by growing affluence across the country together with the increasing pressure on people’s spare time caused by long working hours.

Safeclean is currently on the look out for ambitious young entrepreneurs with a strong sales and business background who can carry the business even further forward.

The company has a range of re-sale opportunities available in Kings Lynn, Leeds/York, Manchester (2), Oxford and Southend as well as opportunities to open new operations in the South West, Wales, Scotland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northampton, Wirral, Doncaster, Chester, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Halifax and Oldham.

If you think that you have what it takes to succeed as a Safeclean franchisee or you would like more information about the business please call 01235 444749 or visit www.safeclean.co.uk

Making the Smart Choice

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Stratford franchisee Rob Jennett is in his third year of trading with vehicle paintwork repair franchise, Revive! Auto Innovations.

Army mechanic Rob wanted to work for himself but had no business knowledge or any clear idea of what he wanted to do.

Rob comments, “I saw the potential in Smart Repairs and believed it to be an industry I was suited to. I received three weeks training from my franchisor plus one-week start up training. Since then I have received ongoing support through regional meetings and regular contact with my trainer.”

“The biggest challenge for me has been learning a new skill, and growing sales in the business. Overall though I have been pleased with what I’ve achieved.”

For further information on Revive! contact us on 0800 917 4379

SAFECLEAN SERVICEMAN STEVE SCOOPS TOP AWARD

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Steve Johnson of Safeclean Birmingham is celebrating today after winning the company’s prestigious ‘Service Technician of the Year’ award for 2004.

Steve was chosen from leading Safeclean technicians across the UK for his commitment to the business development of Safeclean Birmingham and his dedication to high standards of customer care.

Steve, who was joined on stage by Safeclean Franchise Recruitment Director, Craig Henthorn, received the accolade as part of Safeclean’s annual awards which recognise exceptional levels of achievement amongst its franchisees and their staff.

Marking the award, Henthorn said: “Steve joined Safeclean Birmingham without any cleaning knowledge yet he has been outstanding in learning his trade. His expertise is respected by customers, retailers and fellow associates and he is dedicated to the training of his colleagues who he helps to regularly drives sales for their Safeclean operation.

“Steve takes tremendous pride in going the extra mile for customers and will often contact them directly to ensure that they are happy with his service. He is always happy to work additional hours and is willing to undertake any task to the highest possible standards.

“I’m sure that his customers in the Birmingham area will join me in congratulating Steve for his consistent and sustained approach which has reaped dividends in terms of the quality and level of service which they enjoy when using Safeclean Birmingham.”

Safeclean is a full member of the British Franchise Association and was originally founded in 1970 by Oxfordshire entrepreneur Desmond Cook who started the business with just a natural sea sponge and buckets of foam. Today the company has almost 100 franchisees with several being part of the Safeclean network for over 20 years, some of whom are turning over up to £250,000 a year.

If you think that you have what it takes to succeed as a Safeclean franchisee, or you would like more information about the business please call 01235 444749 or visit www.safeclean.co.uk

SAFECLEAN FRANCHISE MAKES FINANCIAL SENSE SAYS EX-BANK BOSS

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Paul Godson, 36, became a franchisee for furniture care specialist Safeclean five years ago after finally deciding that he wanted to escape the rat race and run his own business.

Since purchasing his first territory in the West Midlands, Paul has since expanded his business into Worcester and Warwickshire and his franchise is now one of the fastest growing in Safeclean’s network of around 100 franchisees - some of which turn over up to £250,000 a year.

A full member of the British Franchise Association, Safeclean was founded in 1970 by Oxfordshire entrepreneur Desmond Cook. Now part of the £2.25bn global Valspar Corporation, Safeclean began life in Cook’s garage where his use of natural sea sponges during the cleaning process set the organisation’s standard for care and quality.

Today, Paul Godson is a prime example of the new breed of young and dynamic Safeclean franchisees who are taking the business forward in the domestic marketplace. He is a shining example to anyone who has ever dreamed of running their own business but have so far failed to take the plunge.

Explains Paul: “I’d been working as a mortgage advisor at a leading high street bank for over 12 years and had become desperately unhappy with the nine to five drudge and lack of career prospects. Like most people at that age I had a family and a mortgage to pay so I needed a substantial income as well as job satisfaction.

“I decided that franchising would offer me the safest route to owning my own business, it limits the risks involved in forming your own start-up, so I did my research and visited a number of companies at the National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham.

“I’ve always been interested in cleaning, I like to keep my house immaculate from everyday dirt and dust, so I was initially disappointed with the packages that some of the domestic cleaning companies had to offer. However when I met the team at Safeclean something inside me just felt right.

“Safeclean were the only company that felt like a value-for-money investment as they provide all the training, sales support and equipment that you need to get your business off the ground. They are a very organised operation and I had every confidence that they would help me to succeed.

“One of Safeclean’s big advantages is its association with Guardsman, a leading brand of furniture care products and warranty which are owned by Safeclean’s American-based parent company Valspar. There are over 6.5million UK home owners with Guardsman warranties on their sofas, carpets and curtains and this rich database alone creates around 20 to 30 jobs for each Safeclean franchisee a month.

“If you’re ambitious and determined enough you can utilise this customer base to create future work for yourself. The Guardsman association also creates work with leading furniture retailers which also contributes to the significant profits that you can make at the end of the month.

“Most of my work, probably around 75 per cent, is self generated and while I feel that most of this is down to my own hard work, Safeclean have definitely played a significant role in helping me through the difficult early stages of business ownership.

“The company offers a proven business model and a brand name which I’m proud to be associated with. My business is booming, I now have one full-time staff and two part-time members of staff, and I finally enjoy working for a living.

“I wouldn’t recommend any franchise to anyone who didn’t have the drive to be successful on their own. However, if you have the determination and ambition I’d wholeheartedly recommend Safeclean – it’s definitely worth a look.

“Safeclean represents a profitable and successful business model and it’s worth taking the time to find out more information.”

Safeclean is currently on the look out for ambitious young entrepreneurs with a strong sales and business background who can carry the business even further forward.

The company has a range of re-sale opportunities available in Kings Lynn, Leeds/York, Manchester (2), Oxford and Southend as well as opportunities to open new operations in the South West, Wales, Scotland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northampton, Wirral, Doncaster, Chester, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Halifax and Oldham.

If you think that you have what it takes to succeed as a Safeclean franchisee or you would like more information about the business please call 01235 444707 or visit www.safeclean.co.uk

Gamekeeper Turned Poacher?

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Former Head of Training at ChipsAway takes on franchise

Lichfield man Ian Byrne is gamekeeper turned poacher - or perhaps the other way round. Either way, the fact that the former Head of Training for ChipsAway International has taken on a franchise of his own is a source of satisfaction for one of the UK’s leading franchisors, says Managing Director Steve Bignell.

“Ian initially came to us as a potential franchisee some seven years ago,” Steve explains. “At that time, he had considerable experience working in an automotive body shop as a painter and panel beater, and had specialised in paintless dent removal – so instead of offering him a franchise, we offered him a job!”

Only three years after introducing the concept of SMART repairs (Small and Medium Area Repair Technology) into the UK, ChipsAway were growing fast and were keen to invest in expertise such as Ian’s to develop and support their franchise network. He was soon given full responsibility for new franchisee training for both the UK and overseas, as more and more international master franchisees joined ChipsAway worldwide.

However, having always promised himself that he would be running his own business by the age of 30, Ian has now decided to return to his original plan. “I have finally bought my ChipsAway franchise in Lichfield…after seven years of intensive research!” he jokes.

On a serious note, Ian points out that as Head of Training for ChipsAway, he has had to become involved in research and development for the company, including detailed analysis of would be competitive SMART repair products and systems - his decision therefore is uniquely informed.

“I have watched the ChipsAway brand grow to become recognised as the clear market leader, and their unique system is certainly still the best there is – in fact, I would say nothing comes close. With my background and industry knowledge, I could have considered setting up on my own. However, in reality there are not the equivalent quality products and systems available anywhere else, so for me becoming a ChipsAway franchisee was a ‘no-brainer’!”

Ian launched his franchise on 1st September, and within the first two weeks in business, he had invoiced £5,000, and is already planning expansion of his business. “Before I started I had plans for a major marketing campaign, but my feet haven’t yet touched the ground!” he concludes.

Steve Bignell confirmed that ChipsAway were delighted to welcome Ian to the franchise network, and added that there could be no better endorsement for the company. “Ian knows ChipsAway ‘warts and all’, but he has seen at first hand how easy it is to make money in a market as large and lucrative as ours, having helped dozens of franchisees make their fortune” he said.

ChipsAway International is the dominant force in the SMART repairs sector, using unique patented technology to repair car paintwork quickly, conveniently and cost-effectively.

The system is easy to learn, complies with all H&S guidelines and has low operating costs. Franchisees are given a comprehensive training package and ongoing support, operating on their own dedicated territory in a growing multi-million pound marketplace with massive earnings potential.

A Safer Career with Franchising

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Nigel Lawrence
Safeclean
Birmingham


Why I chose franchising

20 years ago I saw an opportunity which involved providing a service to customers and being my own boss. Having the back up of a national company using their experience and knowledge took away the worry of starting up on my own.


What I did before taking up a franchise

I was an advertising agent for a local company.


How I raised the finance

The investment was raised from partly savings and the rest from my bank.


The training and support I receive from my franchisor

Training and support is very good. They keep me informed of new materials and equipment. They offer admin support as well as technical. They regularly produce new publicity material for local distribution.


The challenges I have faced

Over the last 20 years I have faced many challenges. One of the main challenges is to expand and take on staff. I now have two areas with two full time staff. Three vehicles all with separate equipment. I also have a part time secretary who takes care of all my computer work and direct mailings.


My advice to someone thinking of buying their first franchise

Talk to other franchisees about the franchise your taking on. Try and visit them on location and see for yourself what is really involved. Ask questions about their business and how they have over come problems.


My plans for the future

My plans for the future are to build a business that is second to none and has a first class reputation within my industry. I am nearly there! My reputation in the Midlands is already well established.

Sign of a Good Thing

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Andrew Slater
Signs Express
Warwick


Why I chose franchising

In terms of the Signs Express franchise I chose it because it had a good track record, there are pricing deals in place with national suppliers to enable branches to compete on price, there is good technical support and the marketing literature was much more professionally produced.


What I did before taking up a franchise

I was a General Manager for a national sign company.


How I raised the finance

I released some equity from a property I owned.


The training and support I receive from my franchisor

4 weeks initial training – brief overview of everything. On the whole, support is very good with specialists in all all the key areas.


The challenges I have faced

Having come from a large sign firm with departments for admin, sales, estimating and accounts etc, I now have to do these items myself and organising my time has become crucial. For new franchisees doing a variety of roles is essential as money is tight initially and rather than employ someone it is often prudent to carry out the duties yourself. Also after 12 years in signmaking, it is amazing what I did not know and have learnt already.


My advice to someone thinking of buying their first franchise

Make sure that you investigate the huge number of franchises available and find one that suits your long term and short term aims. Speak to as many franchisees in your preferred areas and find out all the pros and cons.


My plans for the future

To expand the business as much as possible through investment in people and equipment.

A challenge with Belvoir franchise

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Warren and Carol Wadeson
Belvoir
Rugby


Why I chose franchising

Originally the franchise was going to be run from a home office with just me (Carol). I had worked in banking for a number of years the later being in the business sector. I had wanted to leave the bank and work for myself for quite a while. Why franchising? Because I wanted to reduce the risk and from my time with the bank I knew that franchising had a far higher success rate than other stand alone new businesses. I also liked the thought of being supported both with the training and with the other franchisees.


What I did before taking up a franchise

As mentioned above for the previous seven years I worked as a Manager for a High Street Bank. Previously to this I was a Customer Service Manager for a large Superstore. Warren was employed as an Operations Manager for a large Support Service Company.


How I raised the finance

A combination of savings and bank loans.


The training and support I receive from my franchisor

The initial training was good. I especially like the discussions that took place between all of the "New Guys" this helped to make you feel that you weren't on your own and you didn’t feel that any question was a daft question. However I feel that I have learnt the most from the on-going support I have received once the business was up and running. Warren and I have gathered lots of useful information from Head Office and from our fellow franchisees.


The challenges I have faced

After a number of weeks it became apparent that an office at home wasn't going to build the business as quickly as we wished it to. This we feel was due to the fact that we didn’t have enough competition therefore if anyone thought about Letting in the Rugby area they tended to go for the two main players both of whom were in Town.

We moved into out Town Centre "Shop" on Valentines Day of this year and apart from the painful waiting period waiting for people to find us we have been pleased with how the business is building up.

It is a bit like playing "chicken" though you really need to keep your nerve. Warren and I have needed to support each other through some tough days. Although I have never regretted taking out my Franchise with Belvoir, it might be scary chucking in your job etc but it’s never boring !!


My advice to someone thinking of buying his or her first franchise

Go to as many of the Franchise Exhibitions as you can to get an idea of the area that you would like to work in. I was surprised by the diversity of the Franchises especially at the London exhibition.

Go with your gut feeling, if your not keen on the level of service you receive at the exhibitions or with any subsequent contact we found it to be a good reflection of the level of service you would receive after you have bought into it. If someone says they are going to get back to you by a certain time or day, check to see that they keep to their promises. Be honest with the Franchisor and yourself. Remember you are buying a product not a business the business is built up by you. You should be given all of the tools that you need to do it but the hard work is down to you.


My plans for the future

We want to be recognised as giving excellent service both to our Landlords and Tenants so that when anyone in Rugby thinks about Letting they think of us first.

Also, when the time is right we would like to take on another area adjacent with Rugby, mind you at the rate that Belvoir is expanding all of the areas will have been taken before we can afford to do it!!

 

Support and backup with Belvoir franchising

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Mike and Angela
Belvoir
Tamworth


Why we chose franchising

We both wanted to run our own business and understood that a good franchise would give us in depth product knowledge, support and back-up. A proven track record was also appealing and the knowledge that the product or service was successful elsewhere.


What we did before taking up the franchise

Mike was a General Manager of an industrial unit providing employment and training for visually impaired adults. Angela was an experienced Account Manager working Mail Order/ Mail Shot industry.

How we raised the finance

We had been living and working in the South East but both of our families lived either in the Midlands or Cheshire. We decided to sell the house and release the capital, re-locate nearer both families and start the business.


The training and support we receive from our franchiser

The initial training course is excellent, we came away confident, motivated and more than ready to launch our business. The continuing support has been superb everyone at head office is approachable, responsive and greatly supportive.


The challenges we have faced

It has been hard, hard work! We have opened High St premises since our launch last November and at times we have been totally exhausted. Our responsibilities are huge but the business is ours and the feeling of satisfaction we get each time we add to our portfolio is fantastic, you cannot beat the fulfilment you feel from owning your own business. Our advice to someone thinking of buying their first franchise Owning the business has greatly changed our lives and our priorities are totally different to what they were a year ago. There is always a risk involved which should be seriously considered, there are hundreds of franchises out there and you must be sure you pick the right one for you. We took a calculated risk and bought into a franchise that we felt completely happy & confident with.


Our plans for the future

To see BELVOIR! Tamworth grow to become the leading letting agent in town, we are still relatively new at the moment, eventually we would like to consider buying another area but for now we will concentrate on what we need to achieve now!

 

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