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South East England news and case studies:

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

Interview: "Your people are your business, so take great care to select the right ones!"


Name: Rachel and Julian Staddon

Location: Bersted, West Sussex

Date franchise launched: June 2017

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

Rachel - Originally from the UK, we went to South Africa on honeymoon in 1989 and ended up staying for 29 years! Julian worked internationally for oil and gas companies as a Health & Safety Consultant, I have worked in marketing, logistics and latterly ran my own “Virtual Assistant” company along with two close friends. We decided to move back to the UK to be closer to my elderly parents, who have a few health issues and as both our kids have flown the nest.

Why did you go down the franchise route?

As we are both over 50 and our productive business life is limited, we didn’t want to waste time re-inventing the wheel. We wanted a business model that we could both work at using our different skill sets in what we believe to be a market segment with huge potential for growth and working with people that give us a great ‘feel good’ factor.

The ethos of Driving Miss Daisy® appealed to us and from the outset the positive and helpful attitude shown by the Driving Miss Daisy® UK management team meant that getting our franchise up and running went quite smoothly after we’d done some research and selected our area of operation.

How did you raise the finance? What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

We financed it through savings. Initial franchise training and ongoing support through our Driving Miss Daisy® Operations Manager and other members of Driving Miss Daisy® UK management.

How would you describe your day-to-day role as a franchisee? What challenges have you faced?

Busy! Challenges included trying to get a new business up and running at the same time as relocating from Cape Town to the UK. Getting to grips with UK company rules & regs and learning the ins & outs of the antiquated Private Hire industry legislation here in the UK.

As a consequence of being out of the UK for 29 years we had no recent credit history here and as such did not qualify for any personal or business line of credit.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how? What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?

It’s keeping us busy, but we’re working together as a couple, and have a great and growing business supplying much needed services that we believe in. Our advice; you need to be passionate about what you decide to get into – if you don’t believe in the business it’s going to be difficult to make it a success! Do your market research to find a suitable area. Check what support and ongoing back up the parent company offer.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

Passion and belief in what you do. Your people are your business, so take great care to select the right ones! Not being afraid to expand when the opportunity arises.

To learn more about franchise opportunties with Driving Miss Daisy across the UK click here!

Oscar Pet food franchise for sale in East Sussex


Name: David & Dawn Jarvis
Location: East Sussex
Franchise: Oscar Pet Foods
Date launched the franchise: July 1996

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your Oscar franchise?
20 years ago, before buying my Oscars franchise, I worked for Barclays Bank. When I knew I was leaving, I started to look at the options available to me. Not wanting another office job working for someone else, the freedom of running my own business sounded appealing and so I started to look around. I wanted a business that was easy to operate and had the potential to generate a good standard of living, whilst getting me out of an office environment. However, having worked for Barclays for 23 years, I did not have the experience needed for many occupations. That was when I decided to look further into the franchising option.

Why did you decide to go down the franchise route?
My wife Dawn was undertaking part time office based work and looking after our 3 young children also wished to do something different. We decided that franchising was the best way forward as training was provided and ongoing support was always to hand when faced with unfamiliar circumstances.

Why did you choose the pet food delivery industry? And ultimately why an Oscar franchise?
Both myself and Dawn had very little knowledge of pets and pet food but could see that the Oscar business model had huge potential. It was so different, and we believed better, from the way in which anyone else sold pet food. It gave us the opportunity to provide a standard of customer service that was second to none. This coupled with high quality products, sold at competitive prices that were as good as anything else on the market and better than most, meant it was the obvious choice. It also had the benefit of lower overheads than most other pet food businesses. The training and support Oscar provided at the outset was invaluable and was all we needed to start building a very successful business.

Why have you decided to sell your business?
We now wish to retire having operated the business very successfully for 20 years. Currently it is operated on a part time basis taking no more than 25 hours most weeks to operate. The hours are flexible allowing plenty of freedom and deliveries are currently only done on 2 days per week. Fitting in holidays at times to suit is also easily possible with careful planning so as not to let customers down.

What’s the key selling points of your business?
There is plenty of opportunity to increase the current turnover and profit to the levels previously achieved and beyond for someone with the energy and enthusiasm to do so. Most of this would be done by way of attending shows, networking with other local pet related businesses, canvassing and undertaking many other marketing activities that have not been undertaken for some time now. The franchisor will reward this with a very good bonus scheme for those increasing their sales.

What support should the new franchisee expect to receive?
The training and support Oscar provided at the outset was invaluable and was all we needed to start building a very successful business.

Ongoing help and support is always available when required. We will also assist as required in the early stages of the franchise being taken over.

What are the other benefits of buying a resale?
We still have customers who have been with us for 20 years and the majority of customers who purchase more than 3 times stay with Oscar for the life of their pet - many returning months or even years later when they acquire a new pet.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
A typical day for me is loading the van, deliveries, admin /office work. Meeting with new customers and conducting taste trials as and when needed.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?
I would recommend that any business you choose is researched in detail. Speak to existing franchisees as we did and most importantly believe in the product you are selling.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
You definitely need to be enthusiastic & motivated. If you put in the time and effort you will reap the rewards long term.

Click here to find out more about this Oscar resale in East Sussex

WPA franchise for sale - Become a master of your own destiny


Name: Paul Geoghegan
Location: Surrey
Franchise: WPA Healthcare Practice
Date launched the franchise: 2013 (Purchased as a resale; previous owner had been with WPA for 16 years)

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your WPA franchise?
I have wide experience in business having run my own businesses, as well as being the managing director or export director of a number of companies.

I have always been involved in the health industry, mainly in natural health products and sports nutrition.

Why did you decide to go down the franchise route?
I wanted to go back to running my own business after 20 years as executive for UK and American businesses.

I searched hard to find a business that would suit my experience, without success, until I found WPA listed on the British Franchise Association website.

I was immediately impressed with WPA approach and the franchise.

Why did you choose the industry you are in? And ultimately, why the WPA franchise you bought?
I feel that the WPA franchise is a perfect fit for someone coming from a business background, especially one where customer interface and customer satisfaction is key. In my previous roles I had gained plenty of experience in these areas and I felt that the WPA model would be a perfect fit for me.

Why have you decided to sell your business?
I am now 66 and feel that it is time to slow down (a little). I will be retiring from full time work.

What’s the key selling points of your WPA business?
My business is located in the perfect position for a WPA franchise, on the border of Surrey and London. This is an affluent area with a great mix of reasonably well-off individuals and plenty of exciting businesses close by. London is on the doorstep of course, where a lot of my business comes from.

What support should the new franchisee expect to receive?
WPA has a marvellous reputation for franchisee support. Full training is given, plus ongoing support. It could not be better in my opinion.

What are the other benefits of buying a resale?
Instant income! The WPA franchise model means that you are paid for new business, but also for existing business as the policy renews each year. WPA pay us every 2 weeks, so there is a constant of income from the first month, onwards.

Starting an area from nothing is hard work and a 5 year project, whereas buying an existing business, as I did, proved to be a fantastic investment and probably the best business decision I have ever made.

There is no ongoing monthly management fee with WPA. You keep 100% of your income. This is a major benefit, that is almost unique in my experience.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
I usually have a customer appointment, plus any number of quotes to run, queries to answer, so it is nice mix of office and out to meet clients.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Definitely. I am now the master of my own destiny as far as work is concerned. I can control how much I do, and when, so that I can take holidays, or take off a day for golf, whenever I want. I am much more relaxed than ever before.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?
Obviously, research is key. Talk to existing franchisees, find out if they are happy.

Visit the head office and decide if you feel you could work with the people running the franchise.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
Someone who is a combination of an entrepreneur and a good company man or woman.

Someone who is totally independent and cannot work with others is probably not going to be a good franchisee.

To find out more about this WPA franchise for sale in Surrey, click here

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

How did you raise the finance?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you do it again?
Yes without doubt.

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


Name: John Biggs
Location: Epsom
Franchise: TaxAssist Accountants

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did you raise the finance?

I financed it personally.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What challenges have you faced?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What differentiates your TaxAssist franchise from the competition?

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

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

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

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

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

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

What are your plans for the future?

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

Would you do it again?

Absolutely – only I’d take the plunge sooner.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you do it again?
With Oscar YES

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home Instead franchise that is the heart of the community


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A husband and wife partnership with Dream Doors franchise


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Animal lovers find their home in Oscars franchise


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

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

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

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

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

The challenges I have faced

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

My advice to someone thinking of buying their first franchise

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

My plans for the future

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

Rosemary Bookkeeping franchise gives me a good, profitable business


Franchisee: Sheila Martakies
Territory: Worthing
Franchise: Rosemary Conley

Sheila has had a varied working life since leaving Warwick University with a BSc in Chemistry. She has experience in high level quality control work and, as an army wife, has also taken on part time jobs ranging from office work to teaching assistant roles. Whilst working as a Technical Manager in a laboratory, she completed an MBA and a Certificate in Accounting. Sheila married her husband, Andy in 2002 and took up a position as an Assistant Accountant before she and Andy decided that they wanted to emigrate to Australia.

“In December 2006, we left England for our new life in Australia. We ran a corner shop in a small town called Golden Bay, in Western Australia. We loved every minute of it but sadly we were unable to complete the requirements of our visa as Andy was diagnosed with a heart condition and diabetes and I developed a rare form of breast cancer. In April 2011 we returned to England and have been living with my eldest son since. We have both now recovered from our illnesses and we are looking forward to a bright future and making enough money to be able to return to Australia and live out our retirement years.”

How Sheila got involved with Rosemary Bookkeeping
“I first came across Rosemary whilst looking at franchises on the internet. I then visited the stand at the franchise exhibition at Excel, London and I was impressed with the people that I spoke to on the stand. They were all informative and very enthusiastic about the franchise opportunity. At subsequent meetings everyone was very easy to talk to, my questions were answered readily and I didn’t feel that I was being put under pressure to purchase the franchise at any point. I felt comfortable with everyone I met and that I would fit into the team with no problem. I was made to feel that Rosemary Bookkeeping wanted me.

“Rosemary has given me the potential to develop a really good, profitable business from something that I actually enjoy doing. I can ‘be my own boss’ and the success of the business will be the result of my efforts.”

Sheila’s secrets to success...
“I plan to expand my franchise enough to take on at least one other person to cope with the volume of work so that I still have sufficient time to advertise and promote the business. While the system belongs to Rosemary Bookkeeping I plan to market myself and my personal attributes. I want my clients to automatically think of me when they think of bookkeeping and the name Rosemary.”

What Joanna Dennis, Franchise Development Director of Rosemary Bookkeeping says:
“Sheila is a conscientious and careful bookkeeper with great attention to detail. From the moment we met Sheila we thought she would fit perfectly with the Rosemary family of franchise partners.”

About Rosemary Bookkeeping
Rosemary Bookkeeping is a British Franchise Association accredited franchise, based on a successful business which was established in 2002 and offers a unique bookkeeping system which is built around charging clients per transaction rather than per hour.

The Founding Partners have over 60 years of business and bookkeeping experience between them in the essential business disciplines of accounting, operations, sales and marketing.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, over 4 million customers NEED this service. By law, all businesses in the UK are required to keep records of their transactions which later are used by an accountant to file for tax and often VAT. Managing these transactions through bookkeeping is often the biggest headache to the small business owner and a task that is left at the bottom of the pile.

There is a growing network of established Franchise Partners in the UK either running their franchise as a management business with bookkeepers undertaking the work for them or working on client accounts themselves.

Rosemary Bookkeeping franchise gives me flexibility and freedom


Daria has always preferred to run a business of her own over working in a 9-5 office job. “Before joining Rosemary I had run my own restaurant business and been a business partner in a jewellery wholesale business in which I was responsible for the bookkeeping. Owning a Rosemary franchise gives me the ability to plan my own time as best suits me, there is good growth potential and there is a possibility for me to just manage the business at a later date.”

How Daria got involved with Rosemary Bookkeeping
“I first came across Rosemary Bookkeeping in June 2011 whilst looking through the website. It sounded like something I would enjoy doing and was not as expensive as the other franchise opportunities I had looked at. I attended a ‘Discovery Day’ in August and after discussing it with my partner, Simon, we decided that it was the perfect opportunity for me.

“In my opinion, franchising with bookkeeping makes much more sense than setting up your own business. Franchising lets you have your time off, connects you to a group of people you can rely on and promotes your business on a larger scale.”

Daria’s secrets to success...
“At the moment I am trying to make my Rosemary franchise my own by telling friends and family about what I am doing. I am also trying to build up my LinkedIn profile to let as many people as possible know about my Rosemary franchise.

“Over the next year, I am hoping to have a varied client and affiliate portfolio. My partner and I will be getting married in the summer and we are hoping to start a family over the next couple of years. My plan is to have developed my franchise enough for me to be able to just manage the business around the family.”

What Joanna Dennis, Franchise Development Director of Rosemary Bookkeeping says:
“Daria is a conscientious and careful bookkeeper and always puts her clients first. She intelligently processes the work and her previous business ownership experience certainly gives her an edge.”

About Rosemary Bookkeeping
Rosemary Bookkeeping is a British Franchise Association accredited franchise, based on a successful business which was established in 2002 and offers a unique bookkeeping system which is built around charging clients per transaction rather than per hour.

The Founding Partners have over 60 years of business and bookkeeping experience between them in the essential business disciplines of accounting, operations, sales and marketing.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, over 4 million customers NEED this service. By law, all businesses in the UK are required to keep records of their transactions which later are used by an accountant to file for tax and often VAT. Managing these transactions through bookkeeping is often the biggest headache to the small business owner and a task that is left at the bottom of the pile.

There is a growing network of established Franchise Partners in the UK either running their franchise as a management business with bookkeepers undertaking the work for them or working on client accounts themselves.

Jo Jingles franchisee has control over career and finances


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Backed with support from Recognition Express franchise


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recognition Express franchise - Backed up by the best


Name: Hugh O’Neill

Franchise Territory: Bromley & Dartford

Commenced Trading: May 2010

Previous Job: Regional Business Manager for a
Contract Caterer

Why did you choose to buy into a franchise?

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


Why did you choose Recognition Express?

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

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


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

Comprehensive and supportive.


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

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


What has been the response of customers?

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


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

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


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

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

Growing a rewarding business with Metro Rod franchise


Name: Will Duncan MBE

Location: Portsmouth
Will spent twenty four years in military service before investing in a Metro Rod franchise. After leaving the army, Will initially embarked on a successful career in residential management. However, eventually the lure of working for himself became too strong. He researched a number of prospective franchise businesses, but was most impressed by Metro Rod’s strong reputation within the industry. With no direct experience in drainage engineering, Will was convinced that the high levels of training and support offered by Metro Rod would allow him to grow a successful and rewarding business. 
Running his new franchise was a challenge to begin with. Will found he had to work on drains during the day and on paperwork in the evening for the first two years. However, his military background meant Will wasn’t afraid of hard work, and his efforts have paid off, with three engineers now on the payroll, so Will can take a more strategic management role in his business.
“I don’t feel that I have a job. I have a vocation which fulfils me more than any job I have had since retiring from the military”

A proven track record with an Oscars franchise


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

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


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

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


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

Franchising With A Dynamic Company


X-Press Legal Services’ Ltd is a specialist franchise that provides property searches and reports, working on behalf of solicitors, conveyancing professionals and specialist HIP providers. The searches and reports are a vital part of the property buying process in the UK.

After working for a bank in senior and very responsible management positions for 18 years, Louise Morgan felt she was ready for a fresh start and a change of direction. She was based in the City of London for the last few years of her banking career and worked long hours. Not afraid of hard work but resenting spending three hours a day commuting, she strengthened her resolve to do something different with her life.

“For a while I had been out of the office but when I changed to a new role and had to be office based, I found it difficult to adjust. I frequently worked late, so by the time I got home there was no time left to do anything except eat and sleep,” Louise explained.

“One day I decided I wasn’t prepared to do this any longer, so I resigned to give myself some time to research career options. I concluded that franchising offered the most attractive route to being self-employed because I needed challenge and independence but also some guidance,” she said.

Louise has qualifications in banking and marketing, as well as considerable experience of business, all of which proved to be big assets when she set up her X-Press franchise. She read about the business in a magazine article on women in franchising and paid particular attention to the advice from Lynne Lister, X-Press’s managing director and former editor of Business Franchise Magazine.

“I considered my own abilities and strengths and assessed several franchises before short-listing three and attending lengthy meetings with them all,” Louise commented. “I particularly liked X-Press because it is a dynamic company in a fast growing sector.

“It is very different working on my own but I am self-reliant and work hard. I am developing the business but with some flexibility in my working day. I am enjoying a much better quality of life now that I am restoring a proper work/life balance,” she added.

Louise plays classical violin and also enjoys playing Scottish folk music, and has a strong interest in interior design.

Tumble Tots franchise goes for gold


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

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

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

The Reassurance of Franchising


X-Press Legal Services’ Ltd is a specialist franchise that provides property searches and reports, working on behalf of solicitors and other conveyancing professionals. The searches and reports are a vital part of the property buying process in the UK.
The times they were a-changing in the mid-70s for Nigel Golding, then an aspiring graduate who had a keen interest in sport and leisure activities. With a degree in Politics and Law from Brunel University, Nigel “stumbled into leisure management by chance” but enjoyed it so much it became his career choice for more than three decades.
In 1992 Nigel was appointed managing director of Circa Leisure Plc, a leisure management company that managed leisure facilities on behalf of local authorities. When the company was sold in 1999 and merged with a leisure management competitor, Nigel continued as the Managing Director of the new merged company – Leisure Connection Plc.
The company became the leading local authority leisure management contractor in the UK managing over 120 facilities, including the four national sports centres. Following the company’s relocation in 2005, Nigel took a break from the corporate world and embarked on a “gap year” whilst he decided on his future career direction. 
By early 2007 Nigel was ready to return to the employment market and began to look at various market sectors, being very selective. He knew he did not want to go back into the corporate world and was convinced he wanted to be self-employed but within a business where there was already a framework and support structure.
“I also wanted the flexibility to determine my own working pattern and the opportunity to grow the business at my own pace, so franchising seemed the ideal option,” Nigel explained.
“At the time, I happened to see an article in the Daily Mail about X-Press franchisee Karen
Underwood and it struck a chord with me. I had a colleague who had joined a franchise three years earlier so I knew a little about the practicalities of being a franchisee.”
Nigel visited X-Press at the Olympia exhibition and found much to impress him, including the fact that X-Press was a business to business franchise and the territory he wanted was still available. “X-Press were very professional and positive yet appeared to have a very supportive and friendly culture. I liked the way that decisions were made and communicated quickly and, in all my dealings with them, it was refreshing to find that they did what they said they would do!” Nigel enthused.
“I was given free rein to call any of the franchisees I liked. Those I spoke to confirmed that they would all sign up again for the franchise, given the same circumstances. Indeed their testimonials convinced me that the business and the company were something to be part of,” Nigel continued.
Wife Julie has put her own career as a supply teacher on the “back burner” so she can help Nigel to get the business established. She looks after admin which leaves Nigel free to do the searches and the marketing. 
“The business is interesting,” says Nigel. “It is a progressive company to be involved with and I like the culture and ethos. A big advantage is that there is always someone to offer support when you need it, which is very reassuring,” he added.

Signs to stay!


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

Building on the Progress Already Made


The Dyno-Rod Plumbing services franchise for central and southern Essex has been working hard over an 18 month period to ensure their client Brake Foodservice Solutions, a frozen / chilled food distribution company, complies with the water bye-laws and health regulations.

Dyno-Rod Plumbing began its involvement with Brake Foodservice Solutions on the Dukes Park Industrial Estate in Chelmsford, by replacing several faulty or out of date basin taps. They were then asked to install a number of non-return valves at various points on the cold water mains to prevent back contamination. So impressed was the client with the quality of the work and price competitiveness, that Dyno-Rod Plumbing were subsequently awarded a contract to refit an entire washroom on the shop floor.

The Warehouse Manager for Brake Foodservice Solutions, Nigel Hooker, comments: “I originally had dealings with Dyno-Rod on a domestic level, when my insurance company recommended them to deal with an issue at home. Having been satisfied with the work done there, I decided to offer them the chance to quote on some work we needed doing at the business premises.

“Obviously being involved with the food industry, health and hygiene are a top priority for us and there are a number of areas where we are constantly upgrading to keep pace with regulations. Dyno-Rod Plumbing services’ prices were highly competitive and so we awarded them gradually more jobs and have been very pleased with the service.”

G J Mariner & Son Director Gavin Mariner, the local Dyno-Rod Plumbing operator adds: “The business began two years ago with the Dyno-Rod Plumbing franchise, the success of which helped to fund the acquisition of two local Dyno-Rod franchises. By combining the Plumbing and the Drainage business, it has given us the ability to provide a one-stop shop approach to drainage and plumbing problems. Furthermore, the increased size of the business gives greater depth of support to provide true 24/7 coverage. The company now has ten employees and operates with eight vans on the road full time.”

“We have the skills and expertise to tackle both domestic and commercial jobs. There is a lot of demand for our services and I am confident we will continue to build on the progress already made”.

Combination of Skills Makes Recognition a Success


Sally Findlay
Mid Surrey

Why did you choose Recognition Express?

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

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

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

How was your first year in business?

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

How do you see your business progressing?

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

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

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

Franchising, the best route forward

largeTim_L.gif X-Press Legal Services' Ltd is a specialist franchise that provides property searches and reports, working on behalf of solicitors and other conveyancing professionals. The searches and reports are a vital part of the property buying process in the UK.

Tim Billingham and Alex Stewart have acquired the biggest territory in X-Press Legal Services' rapidly-growing franchise network. Their area covers a large part of South East England.

Colleagues originally and now friends and business partners, Tim and Alex each had ambitions to run their own business but had reservations about starting a venture entirely alone. They considered many different possibilities and concluded that franchising was the best route forward.

With 22 years' senior level commercial banking experience, Tim already knew and understood the franchising concept. Alex had worked for franchised businesses and also had been self-employed, so he had a different perspective on franchising.

Tim had been head-hunted away from the bank to join an environmental waste management company as Director of Operations and Strategy. He worked hard with his co-directors over the following four years to triple the size of the business, growing it from 50 employees to 150 and increasing turnover from £3 million to £10 million.
In fact, the company was so successful that it was soon acquired by another business and Tim and his Board colleagues were invited to move on, despite their huge contribution.

Facing redundancy for the first time in his career, Tim believed that he had a positive opportunity with total freedom to choose a new direction. "I was certain that, given my experience, now was the right time to branch out with my own business," he said. "At the same time, Alex was looking around for a new opportunity and franchising was just one of many options he was considering."
Alex commented: "Being my own boss again was important to me but, with a young family, I was wary about investing significant time and money into a new start up business, whereas buying a franchise and following a proven business model gives a head start."

Tim said: "We believed we could combine talents and strengths to work as an effective team. We wanted a business to business franchise but, at that stage, it was a question of which type we should research and there were so many to choose from."

Co-incidentally, both Alex and Tim were in the process of buying houses and on the receiving end of the searches and reports procedure. Tim said: "I rediscovered how protracted and frustrating this is but also realised how much more efficient it could be. I thought about the type of service that I, as a customer, would like to receive - professional, fast, accurate and cost-effective. I recognised that this would need back-up support from a strong national provider and so I was delighted when Alex read about X-Press, a CoPSO executive member, in a franchise magazine.

The very next week, at the franchise exhibition I Birmingham, we entered the arena and X-Press was the first stand on the right.

"It was a ‘we believe in fate' moment," Tim continued. "Alex and I both saw a great future for this business, especially all the new opportunities created by the government's plans to revolutionise the system for homes purchase in mid-2007 when home information packs are introduced," he added.

Once they had decided to go into business together, they realised how the X-Press model would enable them to capitalise on their respective expertise.

Tim had a solid background in banking and business and Alex had considerable sales and marketing experience, especially in the property sector.

They met X-Press for the first time at a franchise exhibition, followed by in-depth meetings at the franchise's headquarters and further local research. "The X-Press team addressed all our questions and concerns, dealing with each very thoroughly," Alex said.

"We realised that working under the umbrella of a known brand has big advantages and saw the huge potential for growth in the searches sector. We decided to go ahead, talked to other franchisees and began our training. We opened our new offices in Crowborough and Burgess Hill in January 2007. Everything is set up and now it is up to us to maximise the potential of the business and the X-Press brand by using all our skills and experience. And, with hard work and good luck, we are sure we will prosper," Tim and Alex agreed.

Showing Signs of Success


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starting a New Life in Bournemouth


X-Press Legal Services’ Ltd is a specialist franchise that provides property searches and reports, working on behalf of solicitors and other conveyancing professionals. The searches and reports are a vital part of the property buying process in the UK.

Kem Galbraith has had an interesting and extremely varied career before he decided to become a franchisee – again!

He spent the first 10 years of his life in Australia until his parents decided in the mid-50s to settle in the UK and buy a farm in Sussex.

Kem had an idyllic childhood with his two siblings. He loved the countryside but by the time he’d grown up he was dubious about being able to make a living out of farming and, sadly, could see no future in it.

He joined the Army while he considered what else he might like to do. Originally, Kem signed up for three years. He discovered that he enjoyed the Services so much he decided to extend his time and spent a further seven years serving in Cyprus.

Kem left the Army to settle permanently in the UK with his three children. He thought about his future and the type of work he would like to do. In the back of his mind, he had always wanted to have his own business but had reservations about setting up entirely on his own.

That was when he discovered franchising. He trained with a copyshop franchise, subsequently managing a company-owned centre while he waited for his own shop to become available in his preferred area.

Unfortunately, no suitable location was found and so, reluctantly, Kem abandoned this idea and started looking for something else. He then discovered a franchise called “Dip and Strip”, which was a light engineering and commercial paint stripping operation.

After six months, Kem’s franchisor went bankrupt and although the franchisees mounted a rescue bid for the whole business, it was unsuccessful. The franchisees went their own separate ways, which turned out to be a golden opportunity for Kem and the beginning of 21 successful years.

“I enjoyed it and the business was profitable but it was hard work and involved working long hours,” Kem said. “As time went on I began to think I should start to slow down a little and, eventually, I decided to sell up.

“My wife and I moved to Bournemouth for a new life but my plans didn’t include retirement. I spent time considering all my strengths and weaknesses, then drew up a list of criteria for my ideal business,” Kem continued.

Kem understood the many advantages of buying a franchise and began to research the marketplace to find one that would match his requirements. “I had my own blueprint but for ages I couldn’t find anything I wanted to do. Then I read about X-Press, which instantly appealed to me. It was a new franchise, it had just been launched, and because it was new the area where I live was still available. I believed it offered the prospect of a good return on my investment. There is plenty of variety in the work and it’s a clean business. That was an important consideration after many years of working with my hands in grubby conditions.

“X-Press provides a valuable and necessary service, so there is a constantly growing market as people move from one place to another. When I went to see X-Press for the first time, I instantly liked the people because they seemed very genuine and friendly. My wife joined me on the training, which was first-class, because we thought it would be useful for her to know what’s involved – just in case she needs to keep the business ticking over for some reason – if I were ill, for example,” Kem summed up.

Kem was impressed by the marketing team’s real “hands on” support to get his business off to a flying start. “It is a very thorough process but one that undoubtedly pays dividends,” Kem commented. “I’m delighted that the business is growing so well,” he added.

Silver is a Sign of Success


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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