Skip navigation
Archive of franchising in Northern Ireland news and franchisee case studies

Northern Ireland news and case studies:

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


Award winning franchise was perfect opportunity for Belfast Finance Director

largetaxassist_andrew.jpg

Franchisee name: Andrew Bassett
Franchise: TaxAssist Accountants
Location: Belfast

What did you do before buying a TaxAssist Accountants franchise?
I had worked in various sectors before I joined TaxAssist and my employment immediately prior to becoming a franchisee was a bit fractured!  My last long-term role (10 years +) was as Director of Finance within a Housing Association. However, following a merger, I was offered and accepted a Voluntary Redundancy package from this post.  I accepted some short-term contracts prior to deciding what my future career path would be and immediately prior to joining TaxAssist I was employed in a permanent position of Practice Manager in a mid-tier legal firm in Belfast. 

How did you find the sign-up process and initial training course?
Working through the process with Head Office staff the experience and knowledge that existed within the organisation was obvious. The professionalism on show from attending the Discovery Day forward was evident. 

Given that I was travelling to and from Northern Ireland other considerations, such as accessing computers to complete “homework assignments” and shipping course materials back following training was handled without fuss by all staff and everything went relatively smoothly.

What attracted you to joining TaxAssist Accountants and purchasing an existing practice?
I looked at a number of franchises in different industries, as well as various organisations within the accountancy sector prior to deciding to take my interest forward with TaxAssist.  The professionalism, standing within the Franchise Community (awards won and nominated for) as well as the openness shown during my due diligence process was very welcome and ultimately helped me make the decision to join TaxAssist.

Having made this decision, the next matter to be considered was if I should / could set up a new practice, or should I consider purchasing an existing franchise.  After attending the Discovery Day and giving the matter consideration, we as a family did not feel it was appropriate for me to begin a new practice and no resales were available at that time. However, within a matter of months, the opportunity of a local resale arose and I began to carry out my due diligence in relation to the resale purchase.

What is a typical day for you as a TaxAssist franchisee?
I don’t think there will ever be a typical day, other than meeting clients and prospects, dealing with queries and, when I have the chance, to prepare some accounts!

I try to build in some hours each day (typically after the office closes) where I know I will not be disturbed to allow me to work uninterrupted.  This is probably the only thing that recurs.

How does being a part of TaxAssist Accountants benefit your practice?
When considering my future following accepting redundancy, working for myself was at the top of my list and given my background and training, accountancy was the obvious route.  However, the thought of setting up as an independent practice was quite daunting.  Having the support of an organisation / technical team was attractive and has proven to be beneficial during my time as a franchisee.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Before becoming a franchisee, I had expected that there would be a lot of work involved.  I just hadn’t realised the number of hours that I would need to put in.  Therefore, I have to be careful in managing my work / life balance and ensure that I have uninterrupted time with my family.  Having said that, we had anticipated that the first couple of years would be like this and that benefits would occur in future years.

How many clients did you buy initially and what are your figures now?
I took on a client base of approximately 260 clients and on the most recent MIN form submitted, client numbers were just over 300 – so a net growth of 40 or so over the 15 months I have been franchisee.  The growth is in line with the manageable growth figures that I had used in my business plan at the outset and I am content, at the moment, with an average growth of 2 or 3 clients per month with little to no marketing / advertising etc.

What are your plans for the future?
I always felt that the franchise area that I had bought would support 3 offices, each capturing business on a different arterial route into Belfast.  I discussed the potential areas with the Franchise Development Manager during a development visit and he agreed with my thoughts and the areas that I had highlighted.  Now all I need to do is to find the right properties!

Having now been a franchisee for 15 months I can see how the different aspects of the TaxAssist model work and can see that having a visible shop front helps increase client numbers etc.  It is very much a “build it and they will come” scenario.  So, the plan in the short term is to open a second office.

Would you do it again?
The answer is yes.  I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the number of hours that would be worked in the initial period following purchase of an existing practice, however this would not put me off.  I enjoy being my own boss and I do not want to think of having to work for someone else again. 

Subway multi-store operator talks about his journey with one of the world’s largest franchise brands

largesubway_damian.jpg

Born and brought up in New Zealand, Damian moved to the UK in 1980.  He has a background in the catering and hospitality sector, after working for Compass Group for five years as a Hospitality Manager at Stormont - Northern Irelands Parliament, and 10 years with P&O as its Hotel Services Manager, Irish Sea.

Today he owns and operates six Subway stores in Northern Ireland, including Northern Ireland’s first Subway Drive-Thru, which he opened in November 2018.

Damian employs 48 staff across the six stores, but remains very hands-on and involved as much as possible at all his stores, ensuring that excellent customer service is the top priority of all his staff.

When Damian was looking for a new challenge in his career, he turned to Subway, and began working as a Business Consultant for the Business Development Office based in Belfast.  Soon after, he purchased his first store in Antrim Town and hasn’t looked back since.

Damian said: “I was very aware of how popular Subway was, even before I began working for the Business Development Team. It’s a great concept which is well known across the world and has popular global support. 

“When the opportunity came about for me to buy my own store, I felt it was a dream come true! I’ve always been a big fan of Subway and I love its products, so to be able to become a part of that brand was very exciting.”

“I liked the structure and support of working in a franchise, the tried-and-tested business opportunity, but with the chance to make your own mark, have your own stores and make your own connections.  There’s nothing that can’t be achieved with Subway’s business model, it’s so versatile – proven by the fact I’ve just opened Northern Irelands first Drive-thru store.”

In 2017, Subway introduced a new Fresh Forward store design, offering guests an enhanced modern Subway experience, with clean lines and customer focused touches. Damian’s Drive-Thru store is his first Fresh Forward store, and both guests and staff have been impressed with the new design.

“The comfort and space in the Fresh Forward store is great, some people will even use the Drive-Thru, and then come into the store. The feedback verbally and on social media has been overwhelmingly positive and the support from subway to get the Drive-Thru up and running was first class.

Before opening his Fresh forward Drive-thru store, Damian closed a Subway store on the same development. There was about 12 months between one store closing, and the other opening, but thankfully the desire for a Sub never faded.

Damian explained: “What has been really reassuring is that guests from the old store near the Drive-Thru site have come straight back to us. We have been missing from the area for over a year after the store closed, but our guests are so loyal, and there has also been a lot of people keen to use the Drive-Thru.”

Damian is very involved in community activities around his local stores, and with the wider Subway brand.  He sits on the regional Franchise Advertising Fund (FAF) board in Northern Ireland, which makes decisions about regional marketing activity, as well as region-specific promotions, offers and other activity. 

He says: “There’s lots of opportunities for franchise owners to get involved in the brand, on a local, regional and national level, and I think it’s important that we do – after all, each Subway franchise is individually owned and operated, so it’s our businesses, and our communities that are directly benefiting.”

Damian has fostered a close relationship with local ice hockey team, Belfast Giants, on behalf of the regional FAF board. For him the marketing opportunities are strengthened further, once one well-known brand is associated with another.  As a sponsor of the Giants, Subway often takes part in promotional activities at home games, including the legendary Sub Cannon – which fires footlong Subs into the crowd at half-time, something that Damian says really gets the crowd going!

“Sponsorship of the Giants has opened up a new customer base for Subway across Northern Ireland,” says Damian.  “You get lots of families going to the Giants’ games, many of them perhaps weren’t familiar with the brand beforehand, but now they know and have had the opportunity to try Subs for themselves, they might even be fans of the brand for life!”

Damian firmly believes that the franchise model is perfect for those who are considering starting their own business, because there is as much guidance and support as you need, which provides extra security when starting out on your own. The Business Development Office is always there to help out, whether it’s on the ground support at the opening of a new store, or on the phone for advice and guidance.

“My advice to anyone who is thinking of opening their own franchise is to make sure you have the passion for the product, whatever that may be, if you believe in it and enjoy it, it will make it much easier for your staff and guests to enjoy too. 

“The same approach goes for recruiting and training the right staff, when your staff engage and are well trained, you’ll have a better team and well trained staff are good for business.  Staff engaging with customers is key, this is the vital link – and what makes guests keep coming back.  My staff get to know the regular guests, they talk to them, they find out about their day – and of course will know their favourite Sub!  It’s this kind of approach and attention to detail which can often make the difference between the guest having a good experience in store, and an excellent one.”

However, underpinning everything for Damian is Subway and its products, they remain his passion and drive. “I believe that there is a real need for healthier choices for people, whether they’re in a shopping centre, visiting hospitals, looking for a lunchtime bite to eat close to the office or out with the family.  The great thing about the range of Subway products is that there’s something for everyone, if you want a healthier option, there’s the Low Fat range, if you’d like something a little more indulgent that’s fine, if you’re looking for a value for money lunch, there’s the £3 Real Deal – and of course, there’s the ‘Kids Pak™’ – it really is a brand for all the family, and one that will always have a special place in my heart.”

Find out more about a Subway Franchise Opportunity

From Driver Hire employee to franchisee

largeDriverHire_diane.jpg

Name: Diane Maxwell
Location: Belfast
Franchise: Driver Hire
Date launched the franchise: 2012

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your Driver Hire franchise business?
I started my Driver Hire story in 2008 when I joined the team at Driver Hire Belfast, becoming the office manager in 2010.  I’d previously worked in the transport office of a local haulier.

Can you also tell us about Driver Hire?
Now into its 35th year of trading, Driver Hire is the UK’s largest specialist supplier of temporary and permanent staff to the road transport and logistics industry. If a customer is short of staff – perhaps because of illness, holidays or seasonal demand – Driver Hire will supply them with a suitable replacement.

My office provides recruitment services to around 120 customers in Northern Ireland.  We find regular work for around 100 drivers every week.

Why did you go down the franchise route?What made you choose the recruitment industry? And why did you choose a Driver Hire franchise?
I didn’t choose the franchise – the franchise chose me! In 2012 I’d been running the office successfully for 18 months. Driver Hire’s senior management team were clearly impressed and offered me the opportunity to buy the franchise and run the business for myself. I loved what I was doing, saw the potential and – whilst there was an element of risk – I backed myself to make a success of it.

How did you raise the finance?
I was offered the opportunity to buy a 49% stake as a joint venture, with financial help from Driver Hire. Two years later, having increased turnover to £1.439m (a 107% annual increase) my brother Danny joined me in the business, injecting further capital. As a result, we were able to buy out Driver Hire’s share and become joint franchisees and owners of Driver Hire Belfast.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
Being office manager and being a franchisee are similar jobs.  Having run the business for nearly two years, I didn’t require a huge amount of initial training.  However, I’ve still relied on regular head office support - one of the greatest benefits of being a franchisee is the back up and support of a good franchisor.

How would you describe your day-to-day role as a franchisee?
Danny’s role is looking after the financial and operations side of the business. Over the past decade, I’ve developed a really strong working relationship with our customers, so my role is looking after sales and customer services. In addition, we have two recruitment consultants (one of whom is my daughter) and an office administrator. 

What challenges have you faced?
Life was tough in the early days. Whilst I was quite capable of managing the business on a day-to-day basis, setting targets and developing a strategy for sustainable growth was a whole new challenge. When times were particularly hard or not going well, being part of a franchise network gave me emotional and professional support.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Very definitely. Financially I’m much better off then I could even have dreamt of back in 2008 when I first joined Driver Hire as an employee. And, of course, Danny and I are building a valuable and attractive business should we decide to sell it at some time in the future.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise? 
From talking to other franchisees who went down a more traditional purchase route, doing in-depth research and due diligence on both the franchise and the franchisor is essential. From a personal perspective, don’t underestimate the hard work and dedication you need to be successful.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
Every franchise is different. But in my experience the key skills you need are sales, customer service, relationship building and management. And, as I’ve already said, an appetite for hard work.

What are your plans for the future?
In business terms, last year we achieved another record – passing £3m turnover for the first time. Only one other Driver Hire office has achieved this. So, it’s more of the same.

On a personal level, I became a grandmother last year so having built this business, it’s nice to allow myself a wee bit more time off to be with my beautiful granddaughter.

If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?
It’s not all been plain sailing – far from it. But I don’t think there’s much I would change. From the outset, I’ve always believed in being honest with my customers and my drivers and offering them the same level of respect and decency that I would like to receive myself. It’s a formula that continues to work for our business. 

Find out more about Driver Hire franchise opportunity

Home Instead's first franchisee in Northern Ireland off to a flying start

largeHome_Instead_NI_Lynn_Elliot.jpg

Lynn Elliott is changing the face of ageing in Northern Ireland as Home Instead Senior Care’s first franchise to open its doors in the province.

Proving there’s a clear demand in Northern Ireland for the brand’s relationship-led care and companionship model with visits that last a minimum of one hour, new franchisee Lynn has seen rapid growth in her first two years of business.

Lynn explains: “70% of the care delivered in Northern Ireland is done via 15-30 minute care visits, that’s what people know. The Home Instead model is different. What we offer, visits that last a minimum of one hour, was received with warmth and enthusiasm. The growth I’ve seen has far exceeded my business plan and that demonstrates what a great market Northern Ireland is for franchisees who want to join a brand that has a clearly defined mission, to change the face of ageing.”

She added: “We’re performing really well and we’re ahead of targets. The business is now supporting me and my family, whilst offering a fantastic service to our population.”

Lynn’s story - from Dubai to County Down

After an 18-year career with technology company IBM, Irish-born Lynn, 42, decided she wanted a change. Spending three years in Dubai in her final role with the company, Lynn felt the time was right to use her extensive business knowledge and experience to do something more meaningful.

It was a keynote speech at a leadership conference that gave Lynn the inspiration she needed. Lynn explained: “The keynote was about changing our views of the older generation. It was the complete opposite of all the negative stories you see in the media; it didn’t speak about older people as a drain on the health service or finances. It was refreshing to hear someone talking about the value older people can add to society and how we should care for them differently. For me, it was a turning point.

“I’d already seen first-hand how positive later life can be. My granny, Olive, came to live with us when she was 83 and she lived until she was the grand age of 103. She adapted so well to living in a new family environment and she lived positively. There was nothing flash but she made the best of her later years; she made bread, she did gardening and she had great relationships right down through the generations.”

Finding the right fit

Returning to County Down in 2015, Lynn started to look at Home Instead Senior Care as a franchisor, the world’s largest and best homecare provider.

Lynn said: “I’d worked for a really excellent company in IBM, I knew what quality looked like. When I made my first phone call to Home Instead, I felt it was the right fit for me and the right calibre of care company to invest in.”

She added: “When there’s so much negativity about the care sector, you have to step up and away from that. You have to ask what care you’d want your own mum and dad to receive. The standards that Home Instead set are what I live by and agree with. We offer calm, person-centred care.”

A gap in the market

As Home Instead Senior Care’s first franchisee in Northern Ireland, the opportunity offered what Lynn was looking for; to do something meaningful with a business model that she knew worked and a brand she believed in. After completing new owner training in August 2015, Lynn opened her Down and Lisburn territory later that year. They now care for 60 clients and employ 40 CAREGivers.

Lynn has proved the strength of Home Instead’s franchise model and the brand, as well as the demand in Northern Ireland to deliver care differently - she hit break even at month 10 and has continued to see strong growth since.

Under the Home Instead franchise model breakeven is at month 12 with turnover of £1million by years three to four, with operating profits of 15-20%.

Invaluable peer support

Lynn found the support offered to new owners invaluable. She said: “The opportunity to train with other new franchisees means you end up with a very valuable peer group. We have a Whatsapp group to ask each other questions or for advice – not every day but you know they are there if you need them.”

Lynn also praises the support received via Home Instead’s Owners Online Forum where best practice is shared, as well as the support given in the first six months by her Business Support Manager. She added: “Having someone who checks in with you and carries out visits has been incredibly helpful.”

Although Lynn had an extensive business background with IBM, she didn’t have any care experience understandably but explains that shouldn’t put anyone off considering a homecare management franchise as a new career path.

She said: “When National Office are recruiting new owners, they choose people who have heart – you have to have the passion. If you look at the Home Instead website or read about what we do and that touches you, that’s the point most of us have started from. It’s about the whole picture, so don’t be afraid if you don’t have a care background – all the support and training you need is right there for you.”

There are 7 territories available in Northern Ireland for franchisees to join a multi-award winning homecare brand. With over 120 Home Instead Senior Care offices open across England, Scotland and Wales, the market opportunity for franchisees to steer successful businesses in Northern Ireland are strong.
Territories in Northern Ireland include: Bangor & Newtownards, Belfast City, Newtonabbey, Antrim & Carrickfergus, Balymena & Coleraine, Londonderry & Enniskillen, Craigavon & Dunngannon, Newry & Banbridge.

Exclusive Interview: "The Signs Express brands opens doors and lets my business thrive"

largesignsexpress_derry2.jpg

Name: Richard McGonigle
Location: Derry
Franchise: Signs Express
Date launched the franchise: October 2005

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

Prior to starting the franchise, I was working at a software firm as a programmer.

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose a sign franchise and Signs Express?

Like a lot of people, I was working 9-5 in an office environment and really wanted a change. When I began looking into franchising I soon came across Signs Express.

My job at the time involved doing a lot of web development, so I could relate to the design aspect of signage which is what drew me to enquire. I then travelled to Norwich to attend a discovery day, met the support team at HQ and was instantly sold on the potential.

How did you raise the finance?

The majority of my investment came from some savings and was able to arrange additional finance through a business bank loan.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

Signs Express run a 4-week training programme that I then attended which covered all aspects of running a franchise business from sales to marketing, invoicing to signage.

Once I completed training, the HQ staff assisted me every step of the way, from sourcing my unit ready to an opening strategy. They were always on the end of the phone for any queries that I had and still are to this very day.

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

A typical day begins with a morning meeting with the team where we schedule the day’s workload. I normally have a few site visits to do each day as well as taking phone calls, completing quotes and replying to any email queries.

What challenges have you faced?

Some business sectors have been hit hard with the recession so we had to redirect our focus in different avenues. This has meant our business has continued to be successful.

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

That’s easy, I am happy at work.

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

As with any new business, the beginning is tough but stick with it to reap the rewards and remember you are not alone when you are part of a franchise like Signs Express.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

Someone that can work well with others and can adapt to change. No two days are ever truly the same, which is one of the reasons I enjoy the sign industry so much.

What are your plans for the future?

Plans for the future are firmly fixed on growth and I’m looking forward to taking the business to the next level.

Would you do it again?

Without hesitation

Find out more about a Signs Express franchise

Exclusive Interview: "Maintaining an excellent quality of life with WPA"

largewpa_simon.jpg

Name: Simon Marks
Location: Northern Ireland
Franchise: WPA Healthcare Practice
Date launched the franchise: December 2012

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

I had been involved in the banking sector all my working life and spent 27 years in this industry since the age of 18. Following cutbacks I started to look at future business opportunities.

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

"I liked the appeal of running my own business after years as an employee, particularly escaping from the constraints of micro management that was evident in the banking sector post downturn."

I was recommended to look at WPA by a former colleague who had bought another WPA Franchise and was running this successfully.

How did you raise the finance?

Mainly through redundancy payment after 27 years with the bank.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

This is one of the major factors in choosing WPA as I felt that they were very pro-active throughout my decision making process and appeared to provide regular and on-going training to franchisees.

The invite to an open day in Taunton and invites to regional workshops prior to making my final decision were instrumental in understanding what WPA had to offer.

The Initial Training Course was extremely well presented and initial 2 year mentor period with an experienced franchisee provided the support that I needed in my early stages.

The ongoing training through regional workshops/regional meetings and conferences remains first class.

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

Normally sitting at my desk for 7.30am to handle administration/plan for appointments that day. Diary planning is essential as I cover a wide area so if I am travelling for an appointment I will aim to have 3-4 other customer visits in the area to ensure the journey is worthwhile.

I have an early start on a Tuesday with a network group which either entails a 4.00am alarm call or more often travelling the night before.

I aim to have 3 full days’ of appointments per week with 2 days to manage admin. Occasionally I have evening appointments if this is only time that suits the customer.

What challenges have you faced?

The challenge of running your own business and the practicalities involved. I spent so much time on the business model of WPA, however I didn’t fully understand what was involved in the setting up and running your own business on a day to day basis.

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

"On leaving the bank after 27 years I was looking for 2 basics; a less stressful occupation and to maintain a good quality of life. I find it very refreshing to be able to structure my own day without having to seek approval. It can mean early starts and late nights but at least I am doing it for myself."

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

Speak to other franchisees within the business to understand potential pitfalls as well as strengths. Understand the support mechanism from the Franchisor with regard to initial and on-going training, especially support in first 1-2 years of business.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

Someone who has experience in dealing with customers and has a desire/drive to grow their business. They will need individual discipline, particularly if coming out of an office based business to working by themselves.

What are your plans for the future?

To continue to grow my business by a minimum of 10% year on year and build a strong base of business introducers.

To make my business attractive to future buyers.

Would you do it again?

Yes.

Exclusive interview - "I am reaping the benefits of being my own boss with TaxAssist"

largeTaxAssist_IanAiken.jpg

Name: Ian Aiken
Location: Ballymena and Antrim
Franchise: TaxAssist Accountants
Date launched the franchise: December 2012

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

Having qualified as a chartered Management Accountant I had worked in industry at Finance director level for a number of years, in sectors such as property, garments, fabric and food & drink.

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

Buying into a franchise normally means you are following an established successful pattern. TaxAssist suited my background and experience. They were the most professional franchise I looked at in the accounting sector.

How did you raise the finance?

From my own resources.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

I have benefited from an excellent 6-week initial residential course, and ongoing training and support which has been particularly useful through the first year.

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

I arrive in my shop at 8:00am, check social media posts to see if there is anything interesting to take on board, to comment on or share, whilst making the first coffee of the day. Then I check my email for anything urgent. I then carry on with existing work for clients, which can be anything from completing a tax return, to a set of limited company accounts, to a business plan for expansion or to purchase a business. I may have appointments with existing or potential new clients. I could also be visiting my business clients at their premises.

What challenges have you faced?

Getting myself known has been the main challenge to grow the business. I gain a lot of business as referrals from existing clients. I also gain business from trading from a shop front. Again the franchise taught me what to look for in a shop front location.

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

I enjoy being my own boss. I work just as hard as I ever did, but it is nice being in charge of your own destiny. I get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing my business clients grow and prosper.

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

Talk to existing franchisees for their feedback. Make sure you are committed to growing your own business, because you will be putting in long hours at the start, possibly for little initial financial reward. Make sure you are adequately financed for this.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

I would say hard work, enthusiasm for what you do and make sure you have a good franchisor behind you.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to continue to grow the business and enjoy giving my clients an excellent service.

Would you do it again?

Yes!

To request further informatifrom TaxAssist on their franchise opportunities, click this link. 

Interview with Diane Maxwell of Driver Hire, Belfast

largeDriverHire_DianeMaxwell.jpg

Name: Diane Maxwell
Location: Belfast
Franchise: Driver Hire Nationwide

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

I was really lucky when it came to becoming a Driver Hire franchisee as I’d already worked within the business for 6 years, having started as a sales consultant working for the previous franchisee. I love what I do and when the opportunity to buy the business and become my boss came along I jumped at the chance. Every day is different and the thanks we get for providing great customer service is so rewarding.

What did you do before taking up a Driver Hire franchise?

Before joining Driver Hire I worked in a customer service role for a company called STL who are one of Ireland’s premier logistics companies. I’ve found that the people skills I picked up there have really transferred well into running and managing my Driver Hire franchise.

How did you raise the finance?

I was lucky enough to be able to buy my franchise on a gradual basis. When the previous franchisee moved on from Driver Hire the franchisor took over and I became the office manager. Impressed with my skills I was then offered the opportunity to buy 49% of the business with a loan from Driver Hire. Naturally I wanted to eventually buy the franchise outright and was able to do this with the combination of a new loan from Driver Hire and a member of my family who was able to help.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

The support I received from Driver Hire in the early days was fantastic. Although I knew the business well, there were certain aspects of it that were unfamiliar. The new franchisee and staff two week Foundation Training course really helped to complete my understanding. My Area Development Manager was also pivotal in helping me to look at ways of increasing our revenue with existing and lapsed customers.

There was also lots of hands-on support to help me target our sales activity effectively using the various campaigns created by the Marketing team, and help with aspects of Driver Hire’s internal client management system that I hadn’t used as an employee. Driver Hire has helped me immensely and I’ve learnt a lot doing the job. Sometimes I’ve had to learn the hard way. But I’ve loved every minute of it and, of course, the financial rewards are very welcome.

What is a typical day for you as a Driver Hire franchisee?

There’s no such thing as a typical day! That’s the charm of running my own business. You can start out with a plan and then your whole day is taken off somewhere completely different.

What challenges have you faced?

In some ways, every day is a challenge! Our business is fast moving and operates 24/7, 365 days a year. That means either myself or a member of staff - working on a rota basis - are always on call to pick up the phone. Even if that’s at 3am to answer a call from a customer who desperately need a driver for their vehicle. I also think that with any business owner the challenges you face are a personal thing and are dependent on your own knowledge base and skill set.

For me I found the finance side challenging at times. Being part of a franchised network is a great way to keep learning and plug those gaps. And as I’ve said before the rewards are a massive compensation and help to keep me and the team motivated.

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

Looking back I couldn’t possibly have envisaged where I am today. I was very much an employee and had never seen myself as a leader. Whilst running my own franchise I’ve learnt a lot about business but also a lot about my own skills and drive to succeed.
Driver Hire celebrated 30 years in business recently.

They organised a massive party weekend at a country house hotel on the mainland to which I took my team. It was great. But what struck me was how many friends I have within the Driver Hire network. That’s all part of franchising – a common bond. And of course there are the financial rewards. When I took over, initially as manager, I literally had nothing. I think I can safely say that franchising has made a huge difference to my life – in a very positive way.

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

Driver Hire has a fantastic marketing and design team that are continually creating quality campaigns, literature and promotional items. We also have our own mini website which is part of Driver Hire’s main site and a HTML email tool, so we’re able to target our customers and candidates on a regular basis both offline and online.

What differentiates Driver Hire from the competition?

In recruitment providing a high level of customer service is key and working under the Driver Hire brand, which is known within the industry as a leading provider of logistics staff, is certainly a great starting point. Here at Belfast we also strive to continually look at ways at taking best practice one step further, and my team ensures that we always take a full customer brief so we can fully inform our candidates of what’s expected. To help with this we’ve created a ‘Get closer to our customers’ and a ‘Candidate communications’ policy.

Getting the right team on board is vital and being part of a larger network also helps, as we can easily access industry related expertise plus tried and tested systems and processes. Driver Hire is also a very innovative franchise, forever looking for ways we can either improve our existing services or develop new products to sell. This is something our single unit competitors simply cannot fund or spend time on.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

Simply hard work, determination and commitment.

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

Investigate the market thoroughly. Is there a need for the product and is the franchise brand an established and secure investment? Also check out the support and training you are going to get from the franchisor - ask other franchisees whether it was delivered as promised.

What are your plans for the future?

My aim for the future is to grow and develop the business. To help with this we’ve recently launched a non-driving recruitment service so we can target businesses in our area that we wouldn’t usually approach.

Would you do it again?

Yes, definitely. It was an excellent opportunity for me and I’ve thrived under the challenge. It has been a long journey, but it’s certainly paid off and I’m looking forward to growing the business even further.

To find out more about this franchise, why not immediately download Driver Hire's FREE and non-obligatory franchise prospectus here. 

Award-winning home care franchise launches in Northern Ireland and Scotland

largehomeinstead_NI.jpg

 

Right at Home, an award winning international home care franchise, is looking for ambitious partners to join them in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

 

The company is a global leader in the home care market with more than 350 local offices situated across the world. It provides high quality care and companionship to seniors and adults in the comfort of their own home. Carefully trained and friendly carers provide help with a wide range of tasks including housework, shopping, cooking meals, washing and physical assistance as well as personal care.

Ken Deary, UK managing director and master licence owner, said: “We have built our reputation on providing exceptional levels of service and a highly personalised approach closely tailored to our clients’ needs. Everything we do is designed around the client to ensure their dignity, independence and personal choices are respected. We are a business but we put care standards before profit, which is not always the case in the care industry as a whole.”

He added: “This is the ideal opportunity for someone looking for a management franchise which can make a real difference to people’s lives whilst providing a financially rewarding business. With the UK’s elderly population growing at an exponential rate, there are an increasing number of people needing care and assistance to continue living independently at home. Our aim is to be the leading provider of the highest quality, personalised care at home services in the UK. Currently we have a network of 20 local franchise offices in the UK and we are looking to expand this significantly by moving into key areas of Scotland such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Perth and Stirling as well as Northern Ireland.”

Franchisees do not need to have previous experience of the care sector, as each office recruits a locally-experienced, well-qualified registered manager who is responsible for recruiting, training and retaining the best carers in the business. The franchise package includes virtually everything the franchise owner needs to get their business up and running including a quality PC, an online operational resources centre, bespoke scheduling software and localised website, as well as a comprehensive stock of tailored marketing materials. However, perhaps more importantly Right at Home offers industry-leading training and mentoring to equip the franchise owner with all the business and operational skills needed to successfully run their own home care business. The back-up and support of an international and British Franchise Association accredited franchise, ensures franchisees benefit from many years of industry and franchising experience and provides a fantastic platform for the right franchise partners to grow and develop their own successful Right at Home business.

Someone who is already reaping the benefits is Tim Haigh who was Right at Home’s first UK franchisee. With his home care agency’s reputation well established in the Sutton and Epsom communities he is now billing more than 700 hours a week and his annualised turnover is set to exceed £600,000.

Tim, a former head of communications for a UK publishing company, commented: “The care sector held a particular appeal because I’d always had a strong internal drive to help people and there is an obvious and huge potential to grow a successful home care business in the UK right now.”

He added “I’ve also no doubt that Right at Home is going to be the UK’s leading home care franchise within the next 5 to 10 years and I want to be part of that success.”

The total investment required for the Right at Home franchise (including initial franchise fee and working capital) will be in the region of £80,000-£100,000. The franchise agreement is for a 10 year renewable term.

TaxAssist Accountants franchise gives small businesses dedicated focus

largeTA_Andrew.jpg

Franchisee: Jim Andrew
Franchse: TaxAssist Accountants
Territory: Belfast
 
I am a qualified Chartered Management Accountant and prior to joining TaxAssist Accountants I worked in financial and general management in various industries in Northern Ireland. These included manufacturing (cigarettes, soft drinks, and insulation), housing association and even a charity. Most of the roles were finance related but I also completed five years as Managing Director of a company with five factories in UK and Ireland with over 300 employees.
 
Most accountants that I know have a notion of sometime opening their own business/practice. So, after considering the best method of getting set up and finding clients, I joined TaxAssist Accountants in March 2008 and opened my shop front on the Cregagh Road in Belfast in October 2008.
 
I was initially attracted to TaxAssist Accountants because of their very clear focus on a specific market sector – Small Businesses. I liked the approach to the market particularly the use of shop fronts to reach out and make accountancy services more accessible and welcoming to the public. This approach certainly works as over half of my new business actually comes from “walk-ins”. Offering clients an excellent service at a fixed price with payment by monthly direct debits is very well received.
 
Even in a recession, growth has been steady. I now employ one fully qualified accountant / tax advisor and a part-qualified accountant. I am currently looking to recruit one further accountant, perhaps on a part-time basis initially. Having good staff is critical to any business. It is also important to have sufficient staff to give good service to existing clients while offering some capacity for new clients.
 
At the moment, I am the only TaxAssist franchisee in Belfast. However, the success of my business, and the rapid uptake of franchises in the Republic of Ireland, illustrates that the system established on the GB mainland does transfer to other locations. There is certainly scope for more TaxAssist franchisees in Belfast and Northern Ireland generally. I am even considering opening a second shop front.
 
As a Management Accountant with a strong Industry background, I found the training and support of the TaxAssist staff at Norwich to be invaluable. TaxAssist Accountants provide all their new franchisees with an incredibly comprehensive training package that includes a five-week course that focuses on all aspects of running a business. The training taught me new approaches to accounting while reinforcing what I already knew.  It gave me the confidence that I would be able to bring success to the business - refocusing my existing skills to ensure I had a full understanding of the TaxAssist Accountants model.
 
After three years, I have a total client base of over 120 with a turnover of around £100k. Net growth in fee bank continues at a steady pace.
 
 

Cafe2U franchisee happy with working life

largeC2U_Belfast.jpg

Jeff was Franchise Partner of the Year in 2008, and has three Cafe2U vans running in his territory, employing 5 full time and part time people, as well as renting premises for van parking, and storage, and plans on a 4th van by 2011.
 
Each van serves the public from 8am until 2pm each day.
“I have never been happier in my working life, since becoming a Cafe2U Franchise Partner. My background was in retail management, but in shops not out in the open air! I needed a break from the daily grind of working long hours for someone else. I needed something that would suit the lifestyle of a growing family, but it had to be financially rewarding as well as being enjoyable.”
 
“Cafe2U gives me the daily challenge of running my own business, and being the boss. The brand is second to none, the coffee is the best I’ve ever tasted, and my customers agree, thankfully!
 
“The start up training and launch is excellent and exactly what I needed, having never been in business before. Everything is documented in manuals, then explained, then demonstrated, and then you are coached until it becomes second nature. But don’t forget Cafe2U cannot do it all for you and you have to take responsibility for making it happen too!”
 
“I now own three Cafe2U vans, which all operate in the one original territory, and I will open a 4th at some point. It is hard work – of course it is, and at times it is stressful, and cold! But I am managing to do this without losing sight of the fact that I joined for a lifestyle change, and not just to work. Being able to employ people and provide them with jobs and careers means a lot to me, and we also make sure we do work locally for charities, and local causes, which I wouldn’t be able to control as much in my old career.”

Chance finding of Snack-in-the-Box franchise

largeSITB_Brian2.jpg

Deciding that I wanted to go into business for myself, I started to thoroughly research all the options available to me.  It was purely by chance that I came across Snack-in-the- Box (SITB). Whilst reading a newspaper I saw one of their adverts and straight away I knew it was exactly the type of business I was looking for. I had worked in distribution before and as I wanted a business than ran along similar lines, Snack-in-the-Box was an ideal choice for me.
 
As I bought the business of another franchisee, I was lucky enough to inherit a number of customers.
 
Before the launch I was provided with a week’s training at head office which was followed by a period of shadowing a franchisee on the actual job. This provided me with a good understanding of the ins and outs of the running of the business.
 
Since launching my SITB franchise 12 months ago, I have built the business up to about 200 calls per week. As everyone likes chocolate, it’s a product that doesn’t require a hard sell and so I’ve found attracting new business relatively easy.  As the boxes are placed on a contract-free basis, customers feel that they haven’t got anything to lose - and of course this is all helped with the addition of the Cadbury brand name.
 
Throughout the launch and the ongoing running of my franchise, I’ve found SITB to be very supportive and helpful when I’ve needed them. They will leave me alone to run the business as my own but if I need help they will always be there.
 
You have to be a positive person and naturally very motivated to be SITB franchise owner. SITB provides a good opportunity and if you’re hungry enough, there’s the potential for further investment and expansion.

TaxAssist Accountants announce the opening of their first shop front premises in Northern Ireland!

largeTA_car07.jpg

TaxAssist Accountants provides small businesses with expert advice tailored specifically for their needs, from the completion of end of year accounts and tax returns to payroll, VAT and bookkeeping. This is complemented by a wide range of additional services for small business clients, including debt recovery, independent financial advice and personnel (HR) services.
 
TaxAssist Accountants developed the shop front concept with the aim of attracting the local small and medium sized business owner with a fresh, modern and stylish look. Not only do the shop fronts lend visibility and accessibility they also offer the credibility with clients and other businesses that working from home simply could not provide.
 
Jim Andrew is the franchisee who has become the Northern Irish pathfinder for TaxAssist Accountants, opening his shop in Belfast this month. Jim joined TaxAssist Accountants in February 2008 and reports “Since the launch I have had a steady stream of work, despite the economic downturn. As the credit crunch bites, self employed people and small businesses turn to accountancy firms for business advice and for ways to save money on their taxes. In my opinion now is the ideal time to launch an accountancy franchise and capitalise on the situation.”
 
Having attended the franchise’s initial 5 week training course and refresher days Jim comments “the training course really boosted my confidence and I left feeling I would be able to run my own business effectively. The support I have received has been first rate.”
 
Karl Sandall, Chief Executive of TaxAssist Accountants comments “It is very clear to us that moving into shop front premises will continue to be the way forward for all franchisees. We have always had complete confidence in this. Professionalism and business stature within the community are immediately elevated with the increased profile of a shop front office, - which in turn improves local business relationships and increases referrals of new business. We are very pleased to be welcoming Jim to the TaxAssist Accountants network and expect our presence here to grow considerably.
 
Jim is currently the only franchisee in Northern Ireland, however he will be joined by a new franchisee in the New Year and numbers of enquiries remain high. We are also actively looking to expand into Southern Ireland via selling a Master Franchise Licence so if you’re interested please do get in touch.”
 
Franchisees do not need any formal accountancy qualifications as full training is given, but you do need to have a relevant career background, be self motivated, disciplined, ambitious, hardworking and keen to build a substantial successful business. 

TaxAssist Accountants announce the opening of their first shop front premises in Northern Ireland!

largeTA_car07.jpg

TaxAssist Accountants provides small businesses with expert advice tailored specifically for their needs, from the completion of end of year accounts and tax returns to payroll, VAT and bookkeeping. This is complemented by a wide range of additional services for small business clients, including debt recovery, independent financial advice and personnel (HR) services.
 
TaxAssist Accountants developed the shop front concept with the aim of attracting the local small and medium sized business owner with a fresh, modern and stylish look. Not only do the shop fronts lend visibility and accessibility they also offer the credibility with clients and other businesses that working from home simply could not provide.
 
Jim Andrew is the franchisee who has become the Northern Irish pathfinder for TaxAssist Accountants, opening his shop in Belfast this month. Jim joined TaxAssist Accountants in February 2008 and reports “Since the launch I have had a steady stream of work, despite the economic downturn. As the credit crunch bites, self employed people and small businesses turn to accountancy firms for business advice and for ways to save money on their taxes. In my opinion now is the ideal time to launch an accountancy franchise and capitalise on the situation.”
 
Having attended the franchise’s initial 5 week training course and refresher days Jim comments “the training course really boosted my confidence and I left feeling I would be able to run my own business effectively. The support I have received has been first rate.”
 
Karl Sandall, Chief Executive of TaxAssist Accountants comments “It is very clear to us that moving into shop front premises will continue to be the way forward for all franchisees. We have always had complete confidence in this. Professionalism and business stature within the community are immediately elevated with the increased profile of a shop front office, - which in turn improves local business relationships and increases referrals of new business. We are very pleased to be welcoming Jim to the TaxAssist Accountants network and expect our presence here to grow considerably.
 
Jim is currently the only franchisee in Northern Ireland, however he will be joined by a new franchisee in the New Year and numbers of enquiries remain high. We are also actively looking to expand into Southern Ireland via selling a Master Franchise Licence so if you’re interested please do get in touch.”
 
Franchisees do not need any formal accountancy qualifications as full training is given, but you do need to have a relevant career background, be self motivated, disciplined, ambitious, hardworking and keen to build a substantial successful business. 

Richard McGonigle - Signs Express (Derry)

largeDerry_L.gif Signs Express franchisee Richard McGonigle opened his production centre in Derry after previously working as a Software Developer. Richard wanted a change and had always aspired to start his own business so looked at franchising as a way to achieve this. He talks about his experiences so far and hopes for the future.

"After looking into a few businesses that were for sale in the local area, the costs involved made it unviable. I then 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.

The signs business interested me and I contacted Signs Express to find out more. After seeing the Head Quarters and the amount of support that was offered, I was delighted to be awarded the franchise for the Derry area."

Each Signs Express franchisee takes part in a comprehensive training course covering all areas of the business and receives ongoing support and advice from a dedicated team of over 20 industry professionals at the Head Office; covering all disciplines including technical Support, accounts, marketing, IT and operations.

Signs Express is the UK & Ireland's largest sign company with over 80 centres. Each centre operates from a custom designed light industrial production unit with dedicated vehicle application bay, experienced signmakers and specialised equipment to complete client requests to the highest standards.

Richard 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. 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."

"Since starting the business, the hardest part I have found is organizing your day and your staff so that everything gets done. It’s a bit of a challenge at the beginning as you tend to have a million things to do!"

"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."

"My lifestyle has changed since starting the business as I now use every opportunity to promote Signs Express. In my previous employment I clocked off at 5 o'clock and that was it. Now I enjoy what I am doing and do not see it as a hassle if I have to work out of hours.

We will be looking to take on an additional staff member shortly to cope with increasing demand and I would also like to be in a position over the next year to purchase a wide format digital printing machine, benefiting our profit margins and developing our in-house capabilities.

In the future I hope to have Signs Express (Derry) fully established as the place that people go to in the NW of Ireland for all their signage requirements...and I can see no reason why this will not be possible!" To find out more about a Signs Express franchise, please log onto www.signsexpress.co.uk or call Tony Marsh on 01603 625925.

Oscar Reaps Success in Northern Ireland

largeOscar_Paul2.jpg

Why I chose franchising

I chose franchising as it offered me a complete system to start up my own business and to keep it running efficiently.

What I did before taking up a franchise

Before taking up the Oscar Pet Food franchise, I worked in an engineering environment, being responsible for the quality inspection department of one of the factories, operated by an aircraft seating company.

How I raised the finance

I raised the finance through my local bank.

The training and support I receive from my franchisor

The training and support I received from Oscars, Preston is very good without them being intrusive.

The challenges I have faced

The main challenge I faced was keeping a tight check on finances in those first few years.

My advice to someone thinking of buying their first franchise

Expect to work very long hours initially with very little financial return. Eventually it will all come together and you will be able to get the best combination of money and time off that suits the lifestyle you aspire to.

My plans for the future

My plans for the future are to expand my business.

Top Top