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Total Guide to Franchise

screenshot of bristol page

Total Guide to is an online information hub for towns and cities across the UK.  Franchisees run their own local Total Guide website that including dedicated sections for Eating/Drinking, Entertainment, Lifestyle, Business, Families, Jobs, Property, Motoring and Sport.

Bristol franchisee Liam Armstrong

“I have always wanted to have my own marketing business to not only make money but to help others grow their business. Total Guide to is marketing with a difference, its online marketing as well as the care of the client is on the top of their agenda. The team from the central office have been absolutely amazing through our journey and they help us every step of the way. Our clients love the vibrance of the team and website and I would seriously suggest speaking to Liz if you are driven and passionate about bringing communities together and willing to put in some hard work for great results”.
Liam Armstrong, Total Guide to Bristol – Franchise Owner

The role of a Total Guide to franchisee

Total Guide to franchisees work with local business to offer customers information on what’s on, special offers from businesses, latest business news, advice and interviews with local business owners, competitions, local celebrity news and interviews, sport fixtures and news, fashion, well-being and beauty features, motoring and fitness features.

Total Guide to works with clients of all sectors and sizes from national brands such as Domino’s Pizza to Longleat Safari Park to local cafes, takeaways, bars, restaurants, gyms, children’s services, hairdressers and other local businesses.

Clients pay the franchisee a monthly retainer (6 to 12 month agreements so franchisees have guaranteed recurring revenue) for branding, content, guide inclusion, listings, events, jobs, offers, competitions, email insertions and promotion on our social networks.  There are also ad-hoc/bolt-on options available for seasonal campaigns, launches and events which are great for boosting cashflow throughout the year.

As well as selling to businesses in your location, you also can generate additional money by cross-selling packages on the group website.

Total Guide to offers franchisees a business that is not only flexible and can fit around family life as well as other business and personal commitments, but it can be fun!  You get to meet local business owners, find out about their business, attend local events and review food establishments.  You will enjoy the satisfaction of helping local businesses to grow and being an integral part of your local community.

You do not need to stick to traditional working hours so you can open your laptop and start making introductions and offers at any time of the day.

You need to be friendly and approachable with meeting, and picking up the phone to, local businesses who would benefit from promoting their services through your Total Guide to website.  You need to be motivated and hungry for making a sale and developing your business; your passion for your business will help sell your services to local businesses. And equally able to take rejection and move on to the next potential client. 

total guide to franchisees taking selfie

How we train and support you

One month initial technical and business training courses, including:

  • Content Management System Training
  • Sales and Product Training
  • Marketing and PR Training (including SEO, Social Media and PR)
  • Photoshop/Design Training
  • Ongoing additional ad-hoc training to develop the range of services you can provide in your business such as social media management and training
  • Business Mentoring from Founder and Managing Director Liz Hutchings
  • What’s App group with National Office Staff and Franchisees for ongoing support and knowledge sharing
  • Franchisee and National Office Facebook group for ongoing support and knowledge sharing
  • Weekly 30 min video calls with Liz or Rachael
  • Site visits every six months

Total Guide to team

Who’s ideal for us

  • Individuals looking to set up their own business quickly with minimal risk and investment
  • Local councils, BIDs or Chambers of Commerce looking for an all-encompassing local website which can be monetised
  • Young Entrepreneurs wanting to take control of their own destiny without the constraints of a big corporate and to learn on the job with the support of an establish brand
  • Parents wanting to work from home and around the kid’s school/childcare times
  • Anyone wanting to set up their own business with interest and skills in sales, digital marketing and writing
  • Those passionate and knowledgeable about the town/city or area they live

Beneficial skills:

  • Confidence to develop your customer base - cold calling, networking, face to face meetings, sourcing and contacting prospects via social media
  • Tenacity and drive to make sure you work hard and smart every day
  • A flair for writing and digital content creation
  • Experience of writing compelling sales emails / proposals (templates will be provided though)
  • Social Media experience - Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  • Networking and building solid business relationships (having existing contacts in your patch would mean you would hit the ground running)

Total Guide to team

How much does a Total Guide to franchise cost?

The investment ranges from £8,000+VAT to £25,000+VAT; dependent on territory size; e.g. a town the site of Newbury approx. 155,000 population would be £8,000, a city the size of Manchester or Leeds would be £20K-£25K. Please enquire to find out about available territories and investment.

The Licence Fee is based on 5% of your turnover.;

What’s included in the Licence Fee?
Your franchise entitles you to trade under the Total Guide to name and to make use of our in-house staff, site, software, content management and IT software to build yourself a successful business that you will manage and run. You will have access to all aspects of the business, including all the marketing material, the website, newsletters, prospecting system, CRM, social media and ongoing support and training.

Examples of earnings:

Proven model - our first site Total Guide to Swindon had a £179k turnover and 26k profit in year 1 – during the recession!

A website the size of Newbury would be projected to turnover £60,000 in year one, doubling the following year.

A website the size of Manchester would be projected to turnover £120,000 in the first year doubling year on year.

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At a Glance


Min total investment:

Development type:

UK presence:
Locations covered include Bath, Bristol, Manchester, Reading, Poole and Swindon.

Development type:

Franchisee Case Studies

Total Guide to Franchisee

Interview with Bristol franchisee for Total Guide to, Liam Armstrong

Liam Armstrong

Liam Armstrong has owned the Total Guide to Bristol Franchise since February 2019. Liam worked in the past with franchisees and seeing their passion for running their own business, and the successes it brought them, it gave him the motivation to do it for himself. Liam is already looking to buy another territory in the South West.  Read Liam’s journey to becoming a Total Guide to franchisee.

Franchisor Interview

Exclusive interview with Liz Hutchings, Total Guide to

Total Guide to

Franchisors name: Liz Hutchings

Name of franchise: Total Guide to Ltd

Tell us a bit about yourself
I left full time education after completing A Levels in Politics, English, Communication Studies as from a young age was hungry to learn on the job. I started working for a local internet start-up at 19 and was made partner after just 2 years. At the age of 26 I left to create Total Guide to Ltd.

I was born in Kent and grew up in Shrivenham, Oxfordshire close to where the TGt Head Office is in Swindon. I met my husband when I lived in Bristol, and then moved to the Cotswolds where we started our family.  We are now settled in Poole, Dorset where we also manage the newest TGt location – Total Guide to Poole.

When not enjoying quality time with my family, I like to keep fit and active and run most days (albeit with Florence in the running buggy), cycle and the move to Poole means that myself and my husband Ross are able to satisfy our passion for surfing (and get Florence and baby in to it from a young age!)

When was Total Guide to established? And what were the factors for deciding to go down the franchise route?
The first TGt site was launch in March 2012 and six months later, the second TGt site, Total Guide to Bath was launched (managed in-house). The original plan was to roll out across the UK but manage internally, it became apparent though that the key to success was having individuals that know and love each town and city running each location. I also wanted to give others the opportunity to make a good living from doing something they love and that gives them control of their own destiny and enables them to have a good work/life balance.

What have been Total Guide to’s biggest achievements/successes to date so far?
Seeing the model thrive in each location and enabling our franchisors to have a winning formula to have a great lifestyle is very rewarding, as is providing our site audiences with information to really enjoy where they live or are visiting. However, I am the proudest I have ever been right now…Everyone involved with TGt has dealt with the Covid situation with such bravery, resilience and positivity. The head office team dealt with working remotely incredibly and have never been more focussed and productive during such a busy and uncertain time. We’ve completely changed our content plan in order to help our clients through this difficult time and help our site users find useful local Covid info (such as local food supply services). Liam, our Total Bristol franchise decided to use the time to recruit and although a bold decision as it’s such an unstable time, it has paid off; he has recruited one of the most talented sales execs I’ve come across – the calibre at interview stage was very strong!

What challenges have you had to overcome?
When you are growing a business there are ongoing challenges. We’re very busy making sure that Swindon and Bath, the sites we manage in house are everything they can possibly be to be able to fine tune the model to roll out to our franchisees so with that comes constant pressure and hard work.

Without doubt Covid has been a big challenge but it has forced us to create even slicker processes and systems and everyone behind TGt has formed a strong bond as we’ve all helped each other not only come through the crisis but come out in the strongest position we’ve ever been in.

What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow Total Guide to? 
We use a PR Agency to drip feed stories about Total Guide to Ltd and our franchisees – people buy from people, so this method is extremely important.

  • Ongoing SEO and Social Media Marketing
  • BFA Membership
  • Advertising on various franchise recruitment websites

What differentiates Total Guide to Ltd from the competition?
We’re so much more than a directory website which is pretty much what our closest competitors offer. Our model is to help local businesses, residents, students and tourists make the most of the town or city they are in. We provide useful content, targeted ads, offers, competitions and a joined up digital marketing solution for our clients to offer them real value that they can’t be without. As a result our client retention rate is 90%+ and the bulk of our clients are on a monthly retainer – offering them ease and consistency and our franchisees a guaranteed monthly income.

What qualities do you look for in a franchisee?  What makes a successful franchisee?
Those that don’t expect success to fall on their lap. Though I founded the business. I still work hard ‘in’ the business, day in, day out. There’s no letting up, but the rewards are that you pick and choose when you work – as long as the work is done is doesn’t matter when.

A successful franchisee’s main skills are digital marketing and sales orientated and they must love their patch – this passion will come across to their clients and audience.

Most of all you have to have the will to keep going no matter what is thrown at you. I think you have to be a ‘glass half full person’ and see the opportunity in every difficulty.

What changes have you seen in your industry over recent years?  And how have you adapted to them?
Digital Marketing sees changes to the industry pretty much monthly. From Google changing their search criteria to Facebook changing their algorythms. We keep up to date with all industry trends and share this knowledge with franchisees and franchisees in turn share their learnings with us.

We have hubs where we share our ongoing knowledge and experience with our franchisees and clients such as Basecamp projects, Facebook and What’s App groups. It’s a fast-paced industry and we’re always adapting but that’s part of what makes it so interesting!

What does the future hold for Total Guide to Ltd?
More franchises to be launched. Our Bristol Franchisee already has plans to purchase a new location this autumn and Covid has delivered us more leads than ever as people are looking for change and the business model has proved to be so diverse and pretty bullet proof!

What expansion plans have you got nationally and internationally?
More TGt locations, I’d like to have the South West covered within the next two years. International would be incredible but we will focus here first. We will also offer the White Label model as another opportunity as this is working so well with Action Net Zero.

What advice would you give to someone considering franchising their business?

Only do it if you truly know yourself and how resilient and passionate you are. It isn’t an easy path and you have to have a good team around you to support you and deliver the day to day side of the business while you focus on getting all the systems in place. It’s another business so in the early stages you will be spread thinly so it’s crucial you have a good team around you to begin with.

Becoming a member of the BFA has helped me immensely as I have a wealth of knowledge and support on tap and I am completing the Qualified Franchise Professional qualification, so I know I’m not just ‘whinging’ it! I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t think we had rock solid systems and legals in place.

If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?
I’ve made a few mistakes that have created distractions and may have resulted in delayed growth and I’ve had more than a few sleepless nights but I wouldn’t do any of it differently. The only way to learn is by making mistakes. The key is acceptance, to take the learnings and grow from it. I love the journey of running a business and that includes the lows as well as the highs!

Our list of Total Guide to sites: and



Entrepreneurs collaborate to launch a new digital business around climate change

Total Guide to’s Founder Liz Hutchings has joined forces with communication and engagement specialist Pamela Barbato to launch a new digital platform to support us all to live more sustainable lives. Action Net Zero CIC, (Community Interest Company) Bristol, will launch online in the autumn using the behind-the-scenes digital structure pioneered by Liz’s company Total Guide to.

More news from Total Guide to