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West Midlands news and case studies:

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


Stephen loves working for himself and meeting lots of people.

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I decided to start looking into a franchise business in the spring of 2012 as I had been working in a warehouse for 5 years and decided it was time for a change and to start a new path in my life. I still felt I needed some support in this so a franchise was the right way forward.

I have been running my Oven Wizards business in the Tamworth area for over 3 years now.

I looked into 3 different franchise companies and Oven Wizards was the one which responded with more positive prospects for me. I had numerous telephone conversations with Mark Abbott and then a face to face meeting was arranged to discuss matters further with Mark and his business partner, John Graham.

In return for my investment I received a comprehensive package to get me fully up and running. My initial training was for 2 weeks, the first week with a senior technician and the second week with an established Oven Wizard franchisee. Business planning/development training was provided on a one to one basis by the franchisors. Ongoing support includes six monthly meetings, an annual conference, an online forum and regular contact from the business owners/directors.

A recognised brand has helped my business, from the launch to the continued growth I have experienced over the last few years. It is very important as I want people to know they can trust Oven Wizards to do the right job so I get recommended and repeat work comes in.

I’ve got to say I do love the work I do and count myself very lucky I’m in this industry as there’s no better feeling than working for myself. I’m very much customer friendly and I think this shows in every day work. Young or old I feel at ease in everybody’s company, which helps me enjoy my working week. The most satisfying part of the job is being out and about meeting new and old customers and of course turning dirty ovens into sparkly new ones.

My busiest months have been October, November and December so far, but as my business is still growing, I’m becoming busy all year round. At the moment I work every Saturday and I have taken on my sister on a part time basis.

As I have done in previous years my plan is to continue to double my business each year and to keep growing in what is a massive market. My recommendation to anyone thinking of coming into this market and joining Oven Wizards is that you will need to motivate yourself, be driven, but most of all love working with the public as this job is all about our customers.

To learn more about franchise opportunties with Oven Wizards, click here!

Exclusive Interview: "The response from our local community has been immense!"

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Name: Andrew Foley and Lucy Chiles

Location: Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham

Franchise: Driving Miss Daisy – Sutton Coldfield and Surrounding Areas

Date launched the franchise: Launched 16th January 2019; Operational 8th April 2019

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

Andrew - I studied English and American Literature at The University of Manchester, then made the move into the Energy Sector, working briefly for British Gas followed by a 12-year career at E.ON. I started as an administrator in 2007, working my way up through Sales Account Management, 3rd Party Compliance and then onto Operations Manager within B2B. I opted to take voluntary redundancy in April 2018 and enjoyed 6 months off with my family last summer. Outside of work, I’m a sports enthusiast and specifically enjoy Football, Golf and Tennis. I’m fairly well travelled, having been lucky enough to backpack Australasia and South-East Asia in 2012/13, doing a bungy jump, canyon swing and skydive in the process.

Lucy - After completing a degree in Business Management I decided to specialise in Human Resources. I worked in HR for around twelve years in various sectors including manufacturing, laboratory testing and Energy. I took a career break when I had my two children and have loved every minute of the past six years watching them grow and develop day by day.

A little-known fact about me is I’m fully trained in hypnosis!

Can you also tell us about the franchise you have bought? For example; how many cars are you starting with? Who are you targeting as your clients to start with?

We have started the franchise with one vehicle, which we bought already branded from another franchisee. This enabled us to get a head-start with our pre-marketing, as the vehicle has been a big part of us growing our business in our local area, both in regards lead generation and brand awareness. We began pre-marketing to our local B2B community, via leaflet distribution in coffee shops, charity shops, GP surgeries and community centres. We also tailored our conversations with each business to meet their need…i.e. GPs – reduction of Did Not Attends (DNAs); Hairdressers – DNAs and assisting their elderly clients/clients living with Dementia; Coffee shops – bring groups of customers for afternoon tea. Now operational, we are actively prospecting Care Homes in our local area, Domiciliary Care Providers and Private Healthcare Providers.

Why did you go down the franchise route?

We had decided that we wanted to start our own family business following Andy’s opportunity to take voluntary redundancy from E.ON. That said, we had both worked in Corporate environments for most of our careers and, as such, felt that we would like the added support/insight of a Franchise and the proof of concept that goes with it, for extra security. When we spoke with Driving Miss Daisy, we swiftly knew that we were dealing with like-minded people, who want to help people whilst also acknowledging that this business needs to be profitable to support our young family.

What made you choose Driving Miss Daisy?

We found out about Driving Miss Daisy purely by chance, drawn in by the eye-catching branding at the NEC Franchise Expo in August last year. Andy had watched a BBC documentary on loneliness earlier that week and thought “how is nobody offering a service to tackle this scourge on society?”, saw a TV advert for the Franchise Expo, booked a ticket and whilst perusing the exhibitors quickly realised there was…Driving Miss Daisy. We discussed it that weekend and after doing all the required due diligence, we bought our Sutton Coldfield Franchise in December 2018. We both wanted to do something which gives back to our local community, that our children can be proud of and hopefully, somewhere down the line, get involved with.

What difference in your community, do you hope to make?

The response from those in our local community, and beyond, has been immense so far. You don’t feel like you need to sell the Driving Miss Daisy service…it’s so very much needed and well received, that most people respond with platitudes about what a great service/idea it is before you’ve even finished your “pitch”.

In our first month operational, we’ve already helped a lady in her 30’s get to the MoD Barracks to present at a workshop on Equal Opportunities in the Workplace; a 90-year old grandmother visit her 89-year old toyboy in the hospital whilst her family were on a week’s holiday; a daughter to take her mother, who is living with Dementia and resides in a Care Home, for a surprise Good Friday lunch with her sister; and a 73-year old lady with Cerebral Palsy to the Garden Centre to spend a couple of hours and her birthday vouchers, on some new bedding plants for her beloved garden. Hopefully that gives a snapshot of the variety of ways in which Driving Miss Daisy helps people of all ages and needs. We also have a number of journeys booked in via our Alliances to assist people to get to Birmingham Airport, Birmingham International Railway Station and even to Llandudno on their assisted holidays.

How did you raise the finance?

We financed our purchase of the Franchise through savings and we also purchased our first vehicle outright too.

From the training you received, what have you found helpful to-date? The training was all extremely useful, from the technical expertise provided by MCG Training (1st Aid, Positive Handling etc), to the Dementia Friends training on how to support someone living with Dementia, to the insight on customer demographics and the wide-ranging needs of prospective clients.

What challenges have you faced in setting your franchise up?

In a word…Licensing. We have faced a difficult and lengthy licensing process with our Local Authority. We were given incorrect information at a number of junctures which led to the postponement of our go-live date on a couple of occasions, which in turn meant having to turn down the opportunity to help people during that period. We eventually had to present our exemption requests to the Licensing Committee at the Town Hall but gladly the Councillors on the Committee were delighted with our service and permitted all the exemptions we required in order to operate. Our biggest piece of advice would be to identify exactly who your Principal Licensing Officer is and ensure you are definitely speaking with the correct person, as they should be able to make your life a lot easier.

In your initial weeks as a franchisee, what type of activities will you be doing in your day-to-day role as a franchisee?

In the first 90 days as a Franchisee, you will be doing a lot of form-filling. Licensing Documents, setting up bank accounts, creating your Social Media presence, registering with the ICO etc. But you should be balancing this with an effective pre-marketing plan. Identify your places of high footfall within your local community and go speak with people of influence within the local community (Church Leader, Community Centre Manager, PCSO, Chamber of Commerce). Also make a list of networking events in your local area and surrounding areas…many of these are free and provide an interesting spectrum of B2B and charitable organisations. Walk your local area distributing leaflets daily…it works.

How do you believe becoming a franchisee will change your life? Not only do we believe that this franchise will be a success financially, providing economically for our family over the next 5 years and beyond, we also believe that it will be the most rewarding business to be leading. You cannot replicate the feeling you get whenever one of your clients tells you that they would not have been able to do the thing you’ve assisted them to achieve without you. Don’t get me wrong, it is hard work and you feel tired after a day of back-to-back customers but you also feel great about the difference you are making to other people’s lives.

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

Don’t fear the unknown! It is never as bad as you tell yourself it will be and failure is an opportunity to grow, as long as you learn from it.

Oh, and always have leaflets and business cards on your person…ALWAYS! Everyone knows someone who could benefit from Driving Miss Daisy!

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

Passion and authenticity. In any successful business, we believe that you must genuinely care about your customers and live the experience they receive, even more so when it is your own franchise. You are your company – eat, sleep and breathe your brand and its values. Self-awareness is a vital skill, it isn’t always pretty or pleasant to analyse your words and actions, but you’ll learn invaluable information about how you are perceived by others, including prospective customers.

Where do you see your franchise a year from now?

We hope to exceed our initial expectations, following a strong start to our operation, by having a fleet of 3+ vehicles operating. We have already engaged with Birmingham City Council in relation to Home-to-School Provisions across the region and have made initial enquiries with the NHS about supporting their existing Patient Transport Service from a number of local hospitals. We have also recently completed our first recruitment drive and have found some outstanding candidates to join our team over the next few months, which will be very exciting for all concerned.

Driving Miss Daisy are actively looking for more franchisees. To learn about how you could start your own Driving Miss Daisy franchise, click here.

North Staffordshire Autoglym franchise operating successfully for 30 years

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Name: Andy and Don Richardson
Location: North Staffordshire  
Franchise: Autoglym
Established: 1989

How long have you been an Autoglym franchisee?
Well, it’s a long story, but my father was one of the very first Autoglym distributors back in 1967. I sort of grew up with it, if you like. Personally, I had a few different jobs after I left school. I sold cars, steel, insurance and tried all sorts of jobs along the way. Then, one day, I realised that maybe there was a very good opportunity right under my nose here. I only wanted to sell cars because I got a brand-new car at the time, but as a result of being involved with Autoglym through my teenage years I was already well placed to make the most of working alongside my father. I then really got cracking with the business around 1989 / 1990. It was truly a career path to take and a job where anyone who wants to really can grow something special.

What sort of areas do you cover now?
We cover North Staffordshire, so our southerly tip is around Junction 13 of the M6 right up to Millham / Barrow in Furness in the Lake District. We also go over as far west as Anglesey in Wales with an ever increasing client base.

How many staff members have you got now?
There are eleven of us now. I’m certainly not your ‘one man in a van anymore’, but the business has developed and grown naturally over many years and we’re certainly not afraid of adding another van to the fleet as the need arises.

With eleven people you must have a huge warehouse and storage facilities?
We’re in a 6000 square foot warehouse at the moment. The thing is, when you think of most franchisees, they’re typically one or two-man bands who cover a slightly smaller area, but we’ve just expanded naturally as repeat business and word of mouth keeps bringing clients our way. On the whole, it’s a very predictable and sustainable model.

How has the business grown then?
As you go along you have your setbacks and you have your growth. We’re certainly not arrogant enough to suggest that it’s always been rosy. We’ve had downtimes like any business, but we always come out the other side and Autoglym are always there. If there’s one thing I can say about the support we receive from them, it’s that everything is done fairly, in confidence. We’re not infallible, but ultimately you don’t keep trading for more than 50 years without being able to adapt and survive in a constantly shifting marketplace.  I hate to sound cocky, but we’ve been doing it for long enough to know how to operate successfully. I’ve got the t-shirt now!

You’re not out on the van now then?
Not anymore. I did my time though around Manchester, it certainly made me grow up that did.  It came as quite a culture shock at the time. For someone who had valeted cars at the age of 16, being out on the van was a huge leap.  

What does Autoglym offer you then?
The security of being part of the biggest cleaning brand on the planet is not to be sniffed at.  The security of knowing that you’ve got 100% the best quality products on the market. If you ever have an issue with a product you’ve always got the back up there to do something about it. Just having a ‘proper’ company behind you that does everything ethically and right down the line is one of the most reassuring factors of all. You can’t put a price on the principled approach of Autoglym overall – there’s just no messing about. Everything is played with a straight bat, so much so that yesterday I went and bought yet another van for the fleet. We don’t stop, we just keep re-investing. This is undoubtedly my best opportunity, so I’ll grab it with both hands.

So how has the business evolved to meet differing demands?
We are going to different areas that perhaps ten years ago, maybe even five years ago we’d never even thought of.  In the last two years, we’ve been selling quite a lot of product into the agricultural market, so much so that I’ve started advertising in our local farming magazine. We now sell around. 30 – 40,000 litres a month of TFR. Haulage, coaches, buses and also farms have really changed our outlook.  We’d never really considered it before, but when a combine harvester costs £240,000 the farmer really wants to keep it clean. I championed TFR when I was out on the road and it’s become our biggest selling product by volume without a shadow of a doubt. It’s made our jobs an awful lot easier.

How do you keep track of everyone and ensure growth?
I know where they are thanks to their journey planners. It’s all about targeting for the growth that we need to get, setting realistic goals and keeping everyone on the team happy.

Excellent support was key deciding factor for Oven Wizards' Tamworth franchisee

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I decided to start looking into a franchise business in the spring of 2012 as I had been working in a warehouse for 5 years and decided it was time for a change and to start a new path in my life. I still felt I needed some support in this so a franchise was the right way forward.

I have been running my Oven Wizards business in the Tamworth area for over 3 years now.

I investigated 3 different franchise companies and Oven Wizards was the one which responded with more positive prospects for me. I had numerous telephone conversations with Mark Abbott and then a face to face meeting was arranged to discuss matters further with Mark and his business partner, John Graham.

In return for my investment I received a comprehensive package to get me fully up and running. My initial training was for 2 weeks, the first week with a senior technician and the second week with an established Oven Wizard franchisee. Business planning/development training was provided on a one to one basis by the franchisors. Ongoing support includes six monthly meetings, an annual conference, an online forum and regular contact from the business owners/directors.

A recognised brand has helped my business, from the launch to the continued growth I have experienced over the last few years. It is very important as I want people to know they can trust Oven Wizards to do the right job so I get recommended and repeat work comes in.

I’ve got to say I do love the work I do and count myself very lucky I’m in this industry as there’s no better feeling than working for myself. I’m very much customer friendly and I think this shows in every day work. Young or old I feel at ease in everybody’s company, which helps me enjoy my working week. The most satisfying part of the job is being out and about meeting new and old customers and of course turning dirty ovens into sparkly new ones.

My busiest months have been October, November and December so far, but as my business is still growing, I’m becoming busy all year round. At the moment I work every Saturday and I have taken on my sister on a part time basis.

As I have done in previous years my plan is to continue to double my business each year and to keep growing in what is a massive market.

My recommendation to anyone thinking of coming into this market and joining Oven Wizards is that you will need to motivate yourself, be driven, but most of all love working with the public as this job is all about our customers.

New TaxAssist Accountants shop opens in Great Barr, Birmingham

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Having been a part of the TaxAssist Accountants network for four years, Baksho Hayer has recently celebrated the opening of her second shop. Along with her two members of staff, she has seen her business bloom and now looks after more than 300 clients across her West Midlands territory.

“My practice has grown well in Walsall, and with a growing small business culture in the region, this felt like the ideal time to open a second shop. The open, welcoming TaxAssist shops are a real draw for clients and I am looking forward to meeting with new clients and establishing a presence in Great Barr,” said Baksho.

CIMA-qualified Baksho had over 15 years of experience in the service sector and had been working as a self-employed Financial Controller when she saw an advert to join the TaxAssist Accountants network. She made enquiries and quickly realised this was the opportunity she was looking for.

“I’d always wanted to run my own practice but wanted the extra support for myself and my clients, offered by a well-known quality franchise,” said Baksho.

Papa John's Opens in Willenhall, West Midlands

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Leading pizza franchise, Papa John’s, has announced its latest store opening in Willenhall, West Midlands. The store is located centrally on Walsall Road, Willenhall, which is close to Wolverhampton, Staffordshire.

Dave Bancroft, Papa John’s explains: “Papa John’s is growing rapidly and we now have well over 350 stores across the UK and over 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories.

“We believe that better ingredients make better pizzas and this concept has been at the very heart of Papa John’s since 1984,” continues Bancroft. “Our customers across the UK love our freshly baked dough and our unique tomato sauce, plus the wide variety of delicious toppings we offer, in addition to our recently launched deep crust option. Customers just keep coming back for more!

“As we expand, we continue to recruit new franchisees hungry to become part of our success story. To provide a helping hand right at the outset, we have developed a special incentive scheme to ensure franchisees taste success quickly. The scheme offers some free equipment, help with marketing and reduced royalty fees for new stores opening within the qualifying period.

“Some of our most successful franchisees go on to open multiple Papa John’s,” continues Bancroft. “We welcome applications from ambitious franchisees who are keen to grow a portfolio of outlets and we proactively support this kind of expansion.

“Full training is provided for all franchisees and their staff, plus help with location selection and full turn-key opening of stores. As a franchise, the Company supplies all the assistance needed to get your successful Papa John’s up and running.”

Oscar Pet Food franchise for sale in Nuneaton

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Name: Liz Moreton
Location: Nuneaton & Hinckley
Franchise: Oscar Pet Food
Date launched the franchise: 12 July 2012

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your Oscars Pet Food franchise?
Before joining Oscars I was a lecturer at a Further Education college and whilst I enjoyed teaching and the interaction with people I felt that I needed a new challenge and Oscars gave me just that – I got to work with pets and their owners and spend the majority of my days outdoors.

Why did you decide to go down the franchise route?
I was keen to start my own business to give me independence and to enable me to benefit from my own hard work and the franchise route gave me that opportunity along with a safety net of a tried and tested system and with the support of a nationwide business

Why did you choose the pet care industry you are in? And ultimately an Oscars franchise?
I have always wanted to work with animals and I knew Oscar was a great product as I used the food for my own dogs long before considering a franchise – I needed to believe in the product in order to make it a success

Why have you decided to sell your business?
It has been a difficult decision however I have recently received a family legacy which will enable me to take life a little easier, however I am hoping to stay with Oscars -maybe in a training / support role

What’s the key selling points of your business?
Oscar Nuneaton has a stable and loyal customer base providing a buyer with a regular income from the onset. The area has massive potential for further growth with many new housing developments newly constructed / under construction – the area is quite close knit and many customers are in close proximity.

What support should the new franchisee expect to receive?
The new franchisee will receive full training at Head Office, be offered a recognised nutritional qualification, the help of a trainer in the field and will also have the backup and support of myself.

What are the other benefits of buying a resale?
Benefits of buying a resale like this one are that there is no pressure to build up the business quickly as it is currently making a healthy profit however, there is potential for much more growth as and when the new franchisee is ready to develop it further.

What is a typical day for you as an Oscars franchisee?
A typical day for me is loading the van, doing my deliveries, going home to do my admin and then spending some time either planning or doing any marketing. Some days I will go to a local dog walking venue with or without my dogs with a view to meeting fellow dog walkers then some evenings are spent at Dog Training where I get the opportunity to meet and chat to dogs and their owners about nutrition and what Oscar can offer

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
My life has changed considerably since becoming a franchisee as I love my job and reap the benefits of my hard work personally. My life / work balance is so much better – I even come home in daylight in the winter to walk my dogs even if it means going back out again later! Also, I can just take time out if I want to – I haven't missed a niece’s nativity play since joining Oscars!

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?
Research the product thoroughly as you have to believe in it to be successful, talk to existing franchisees and take the time to find out what is is really like to be a franchisee.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
A successful franchisee is someone who is not afraid of hard work, can work independently and is happy to take on the roles that may not come naturally to them. You need to be enthusiastic, motivated and a good time manager. The best franchisees I know are those who ensure they build in time for themselves too as it is easy to let a successful business take over your life if you are not careful.

To find out more about this Oscar franchise for sale click here

New Owner for Signs Express in Warwick

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Signs Express, the market leading signs and graphics company in the UK, continues to grow its network of over 60 centres. With over 25 years of experience, this proven business model has some premium locations and resales of existing centres currently available and has just welcomed David Anthony to the network as the new owner of Signs Express (Warwick).

David will be working alongside the highly skilled team already in place and will continue to produce first class, innovative signage solutions whilst expanding the businesses’ existing customer base.

With over 16 years of experience within the franchise industry, David has a proven track record of managing operations and projects to the highest standards, delivering results within agreed timescales and budgets.

Craig Brown, MD of Signs Express commented that, “We are thrilled to welcome David Anthony to the Signs Express network. He has a wealth of experience developing customer relationships from his work within the franchise industry and is committed to developing the already successful Warwick centre”.

When the Warwick centre became available for sale, David saw this established business as the perfect investment within the market leading franchise organisation, Signs Express.

“I was aware of the Signs Express franchise and so considered myself extremely fortunate to buy the well-established Warwick operation when it became available. The highly-experienced team, excellent brand recognition, buoyant market place and strong existing customer base from which to work, all provided a phenomenal opportunity to develop the business further. The level of professionalism, knowledge and support offered to date from the franchise support team in Norwich has been incredible and I’m delighted with my decision to join Signs Express” – David Anthony, Franchisee of Signs Express (Warwick)

Signs Express franchise opportunities can be highly lucrative for the right candidate and as a management franchise, you need no previous sign industry experience to join the UK’s leading signs and graphics franchise.

To immediately download SIgn Express' FREE and non-obligatory franchise prospectus, click here.

Our first year as a Riverford Organic franchise owner.

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

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

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

What we did before Riverford

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

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

Training and support we received

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

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

What we were looking for from a franchise

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

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

How our business has grown

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

Challenges we have met

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

Plans for the future

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

To request more detailed information (for free and non-obligatory), click here.
 

Taking the plunge to becoming a care franchise owner

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

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

I was studying for a degree to become a teacher and working full time for Home Instead Senior Care Market Harborough as a scheduler.

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

What attracted you to franchising versus started starting up on your own or finding employment?

I had seen Market Harborough grow from strength to strength and liked the support that you receive from the network. Home Instead has a true family feel and the support is always there if you need it.

Why did you choose Home Instead? What research did you undertake?

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

How did you raise the finance for funding your franchise? Did you use any financial support (grants etc.) specific to business start-up?

I had to remortgage my house for a small amount and borrowed a large amount from the bank using the government enterprise finance scheme.

Did you take advantage of any support available to women looking to get into business?

Yes networking is key, I often attend networking groups all over the area.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing from your franchisor?

The training and support is fantastic, I had several days training at the National Office and they provide all of the information to get started.

What is a typical day for you as a Home Instead franchisee?

No day is ever the same working in care, a typical day would be answering calls, networking, delivering quality care, payroll and invoicing.

What challenges have you faced?

Due to our growth and great reputation recruiting enough staff to meet demand is always a challenge.

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

It hasn’t changed my life but I am happier in my work and I feel a great sense of achievement.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

Someone who is hardworking, dedicated and able to manage a team. If you look after your staff the business will run smoothly.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give other women looking to start their own business through franchising?

Make sure you do the research, many franchise businesses are not that successful. Look into the support that you receive and don’t be afraid to take a risk.

What are your plans for the future?

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

Would you do it again?

Yes I have no regrets at all but I cannot say it has been easy. It is hard work.

To immediately download our FREE and non-obligatory franchise prospectus, click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why have you decided to sell your Signs Express business?

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

What’s the key selling points of your business?

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

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

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

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

What are the other benefits of buying a resale?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

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

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

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

Exclusive interview with Mark Tonks, LMI, West Midlands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you do it again?
Absolutely

Exclusive interview – Earn a living doing something you love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you do it again?
Absolutely

Realising a dream with a Premier franchise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview with Liz Moreton, Oscar Pet Food franchisee for Nuneton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you do it again?
Absolutely – 100%

New franchise owners join the Home Instead family

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

 

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

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

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

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

Excited to be my own boss with Rosemary Bookkeeping franchise

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Franchisee: Jon Lewis
Territory: Sutton Coldfield
Franchise: Rosemary Bookkeeping

After 24 years’ service in the Royal Air Force as an aircraft engineer, Jon knew that he wanted to get into the business world. “The opportunity to be my own boss really excites me. I hope that from humble beginnings that I am able to grow a sustainable & successful business and hopefully reap the rewards that come with this.’’ Jon’s family are fully behind him; his wife works full time as an assessor in the childcare sector and his step son is employed in the construction industry.

Jon got involved with Rosemary Bookkeeping
“I had a very open mind about the franchise opportunity I was looking for, so decided to pay a visit to the Franchise Exhibition at the NEC. I had seen Rosemary advertised on the BFA website but wasn’t sure it was for me. However, a chat at the exhibition with the friendly Directors and team piqued my interest as I thought that I fitted the bill for what Rosemary was looking for. The Discovery Day & Founders Meeting reinforced these thoughts and convinced me that I have what it takes to succeed with the support from the professional Rosemary team. In a year’s time I will expect to have a well-established business, have a good reputation amongst local accountants and will be working with different clients following the Rosemary System®. I fully intend to provide a service that is professional and personal as possible by maintaining friendly relationships with every client I have.’’

Jon’s secret to success
“I intend to get out and about as much as possible to explain why the Rosemary system® offers such great quality bookkeeping to potential clients. I already have a very good relationship with my accountant and am looking forward to working with him.”

What Joanna Dennis, Franchise Development Director of Rosemary Bookkeeping says?
“Jon is a people’s person and having been in the RAF, has great attention to detail. I have every confidence that with the friendly support from the Rosemary team, Jon will be able to provide a great service to his clients and grow his business.

About Rosemary Bookkeeping
Rosemary Bookkeeping is a British Franchise Association accredited franchise, based on a successful business which was established over 11 years ago 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.

Impressed with the business

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Name: Neil Hatt
Location: Birmingham
Franchise: InXpress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat!
 

Rewards of being your own Sign Express franchise boss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make a difference with Home Instead franchise

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

Autovaletdirect franchise is the right direction to me

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Name Paul Salmon
Location Birmingham
Franchise AutovaletDirect
 
 
Why I chose franchising
 
I wanted to run my own business, but I also wanted the backing of a professional organisation behind me, able to advise me and point me in the right direction.
 
Also the chances of success with a well organised franchise is much higher
 
What I did before taking up a franchise
 
I was a retail Store Manager with British Home stores
 
 
How I raised the finance
 
I received a Business loan from Lloyds TSB.
The loan became a lot easier to process, when the bank knew the loan was to invest in a franchise, especially a franchise with a BFA affilation.
 
 
The training and support I receive from my franchisor
The training and back up was excellent. I had 2 weeks of  thorough one to one training with an experienced franchisee, as well as the franchisor, feedback was always given.
 
The training didn’t finish there because 2 weeks after going back to your franchise area, the franchisor would then come to you for up to a week and spend quality time in giving you more training and advise.
 
There was always someone to speak to for help and advise, be it the franchisor or an experienced franchisee.
 
 
 
 
 
The challenges I have faced
 
The challenge is to be self motivated, to go out there and actively seek out the opportunities to grow your business.
 
You are going to have a lot of people who are going to say no to you, but you have to keep going because there are a lot of people who will say yes
 
 
My advice to someone thinking of buying their first franchise
 
Research, research research.
 
Make sure there is a market for what you are proposing to do.
 
Speak to as many of the franchisees as you can to get their feedback.
 
 
My plans for the future
 
My plan is to be successful franchisee with Autovalet direct.
 
Continue to build my customer base, because it can never be too big.
 
Use my retail background in improving the customer service that I am offering

Tapping into a gap in the market with Merry Maids

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

Success at Servicemaster franchise

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

A product I'd be proud to sell

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

Fundraiser joins Home Instead Senior Care franchise

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

'DRAIN DOCTORING' IN LEICESTER

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A supervisor at an established Birmingham plumber is giving up his job to start his own business.

Michael Burrows - a former soldier with the 1st Battalion Royal Green Jackets - has been supervising a team of 12 at an established plumbing business for the past nine years, overseeing a group of plumbers involved in installing plumbing and drainage.

Now he is putting his supervisory skills to the test by starting his own plumbing business. Family man Michael is taking on the Leicester franchise for Drain Doctor Plumbing, offering emergency plumbing and drainage repairs in the city and the surrounding villages.

Michael said: "Working in the plumbing business I could see there were so many cowboys claiming to offer a competent emergency service. I thought there has to be an opportunity to provide people with a really good service.

"Working as a plumbing and drainage technician supervising a team for another company meant I did not have the independence I wanted so I decided on a move. I wanted to stay in plumbing and run my own business offering the best possible customer service.

"After looking at other franchise opportunities I opted to join Drain Doctor because the company has a real focus on customer service.

"I can be an independent operator running my own business but with all the back-up that comes with being part of a national organisation.

"I aim to give businesses and householders in Leicester the 'dazzling' level of service in plumbing and drainage which Drain Doctor provides across the country.

"We will give customers fixed-price, no obligation quotes, a complete guarantee on all our work, and a full 24 hour per day seven day per week service with no call out charges - so people pay the same price for work at any time of day or night. What's more, our plumbers will turn up at the agreed time!"

Michael will run the business with the help of his partner Zoe who will look after the administration while Michael is on the road.

After three months Michael plans to expand the business, with another van and employing more technicians so that he can devote more of his time to customer service and marketing.

He plans to make his business a family affair by bringing his two brothers into the business as fully qualified technicians so that the company can provide full 24 hour cover with two vans fully equipped to tackle most plumbing and drainage problems.

Launched in the United Kingdom in 1993, Drain Doctor Plumbing quickly grew to become the country's largest emergency plumbing and drain repair service. It now provides a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year service across the country with each franchise area such as Leicester run as an independent business.

Reaping the rewards at Tumble Tots franchise

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

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

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

LOCAL MOLLY MAID SCOOPS THREE TOP AWARDS

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MOLLY MAID UK recently held their latest National Conference at The Abbey Hotel in Great Malvern, a historic hotel providing amazing views of the Malvern Hills and the Vale of Evesham.
 
At the Saturday night Gala dinner Michelle Jarvis, from MOLLY MAID Sutton Coldfield bagged three top awards for her achievements in 2007. Starting with recognition for her sustained level of sales, to an award for her fantastic business growth, the final award she received was to be credited with the Top Sales Growth for 2007. This award was presented to Michelle for achieving the greatest sales growth over the previous year. The local MOLLY MAID has managed to steadily grow their customer base and loyal customers over the last 2 years and is a real local success.
 
Michelle said “I am delighted with these awards, and I am looking forward to continuing to help even more customers in 2008. Of course this would not have been possible without the support of my teams of maids and my supervisor.”

LOCAL MOLLY MAID IS NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR

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MOLLY MAID UK recently held their latest National Conference at The Abbey Hotel in Great Malvern, a historic hotel providing amazing views of the Malvern Hills and the Vale of Evesham.
 
At the Saturday night Gala dinner Sarah Thomas, local MOLLY MAID Telford and Shrewsbury, was awarded the Newcomer of the Year Award. Sarah was presented the award in recognition of her fantastic business growth in her first year; she already has 6 MOLLY MAID cars on the roads. Her high standards of service and quality customer care have lead to high customer retention, and an increasing customer base in the area. That combined with her commitment to MOLLY MAID and determination to succeed meant that she was a deserving winner of the award.
 
Sarah said “I am delighted with this award and I am planning my 7th car already. It has been a busy year and I have to thank my fantastic teams of maids and loyal customers that have made my days that little bit easier.”

Expanding with Autovaletdirect franchise

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Shaun Kinsell             
Stourbridge, West Midlands
Autovaletdirect
 
Why I chose franchising
I liked the concept of franchising and realised its potential as a route into business start-up for me. The main elements I identified as being beneficial were - proven sales, tried & tested work ethics, and the support & back up.
 
What I did before taking up a franchise
Before buying my franchise I was a HGV Lorry Driver / Shunter Tug Driver.
 
How I raised the finance
I raised the finance from an investment I had made when I was younger, with the remaining balance coming from a business loan.
 
The training and support I receive from my franchisor
  • I have received excellent training and support. This has included:
  • One week field training with an established franchisee
  • Meeting of suppliers face to face
  • Full explanation of operations manual
  • 4 days personal support within area of franchise
  • Data base from Autovaletdirect & suppliers
  • 24 hour contact numbers & 24 hour manned call centre
  • Day-to-day contact
  • Good achievable business plan
 
The challenges I have faced
The biggest challenge for me was breaking away from the mundane Friday afternoon payslip, and the learning process required to start my own franchise. Paper chain delays from the Bank (they honoured all agreements) were also challenging.
 
My advice to someone thinking of buying their first franchise                
  • Do thorough research
  • Get full backing from family
  • Make sure it’s what you want to do
  • Get reports on contract from a franchise solicitor
  • Check they are BFA members
  • Can you fund the project & how
  • Go into the venture with a clear head
  • Good achievable business plans
 
My plans for the future
I plan to expand my territory to become a multi-franchise operator for Autovaletdirect.
 

A Mini Adventure for Signs Express

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Golden Service Award

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A customer service representative with Coventry-based Drain Doctor Plumbing has crowned a successful year by being presented with the Golden Service Provider of the Year award at the national group's annual awards ceremony.

Group founder and chairman Freddie Mitman presented Clare King with her trophy at a gala awards night in Harrogate.

The award is given to one member of the entire Drain Doctor Plumbing United Kingdom and Ireland team that has demonstrated an outstanding service attitude.

Freddie Mitman said: "Clare has worked for Drain Doctor for six years and is very deserving of this award. She plays an active role in the business and is always willing to take on additional duties.

"She has fully embraced the Drain Doctor Plumbing system and I, along with her franchise owners Alan and Maggie Langford, are delighted to have her in the team."

Clare said: "Customer care is vital to the Drain Doctor way of working and a lot of effort is made by the whole Drain Doctor team across the country to ensure people are pleased with us. I am delighted to have won this award."

Launched in the United Kingdom in 1993, Drain Doctor Plumbing has quickly grown to become the country's largest emergency plumbing and drain repair service. It now provides a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year service in every part of the country with each franchise run as an independent business.

The Coventry franchise has been owned by Alan and Maggie Langford for more than ten years.

Drain Doctor Plumbing provides a genuine 24-hour service with no call-out charge and no extra charges for calls outside of normal working hours. Customers get a fixed price quotation so they know exactly how much they will have to pay before work is started.

Signs of a vehicle revolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Escaping the 9-5 Routine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schools 'sign' up for new term

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking for a New Direction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COVENTRY DRAIN DOCTORS CELEBRATE A DECADE IN BUSINESS

D_L.gif Coventry-based Drain Doctor Plumbing owners Alan and Maggie Langford are celebrating their tenth anniversary of business ownership - by signing up for another decade with the UK's leading emergency plumbing and drainage company.

Based at premises at The Old Bakery, St Lawrence's Road, the Langfords have provided Coventry and the surrounding area with first class plumbing and drainage service for ten years.

To celebrate, they are building on their successes and renewing their franchise for another decade - a rarity in the franchise industry.

A ten year contract is offered by only a few franchisors and underlines the confidence Drain Doctor Plumbing has in its franchisees. Thanks to owners such as the Langfords renewing their contracts, it also demonstrates how current franchisees are very pleased with the Drain Doctor Plumbing system.

Alan said: "We are delighted to have signed up - it allows us to continue to grow our business. It has been hard work and every day throws up different challenges but it is worth it. We are now seeing the benefits of tapping into a national system of working with all the network support and ideas that brings.

"The next ten years will be even better. Drain Doctor Plumbing is now a national household name and we are delighting more and more customers with our service. We need to push on with our plans for the business and ensure we continue to grow."

Drain Doctor Plumbing founder and chairman Freddie Mitman said: "It is testament to Alan and Maggie's dedication to building a successful business that they have chosen to renew their franchise for another ten years.

"We have been delighted to have been able to share their enthusiasm, dedication and desire to provide customers with a first class service over the past ten years and we are looking forward to helping them to continue to build their business.

"Drain Doctor Plumbing is one of the very few franchisors that has a ten year contract. This demonstrates our belief in our way of working and our desire for franchisees to develop their businesses for maximum rewards."

Launched in the United Kingdom in 1993, Drain Doctor Plumbing has quickly grown to become the country's largest emergency plumbing and drain repair service. It now provides a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year service in every part of the country with each franchise run as an independent business.

Drain Doctor Plumbing asks for no call out charge and no extra charges are made for calls outside of normal working hours. Customers get a fixed-price quotation so they know exactly how much they will have to pay before work is started.

SAFECLEAN WORCESTERSHIRE WINS FRANCHISE AWARD

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

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

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

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

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

WEST MIDLANDS WELCOMES NEW SAFECLEAN FRANCHISEE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WAYNE RETURNS TO HIS ROOTS

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After touring the country pursuing his dream of running his own business, Wayne Prime is returning to his roots to launch a 24-hour Drain Doctor Plumbing business serving commercial and residential properties in the Wolverhampton area.

Wayne, 38, worked in Drain Doctor Plumbing's head office technical team in Peterborough in 2000 supporting and training Drain Doctor franchisees but joined another drainage business to become branch manager in Birmingham. However, he left that company after a year to launch his own drain relining and repair business, working on major contracts around the country for the past three years.

"It's been a long-held ambition to run my own business," said Wayne, "But I was trekking all over the country tackling tasks for big civil engineering projects such as Heathrow terminal five and the Channel Tunnel rail link.

"When I discovered the Drain Doctor Plumbing franchise in Wolverhampton was available, I jumped at the opportunity. I have always admired the company's high standards of customer service and I believe there is plenty of potential for growth.

"I'll be running my own business but as a franchisee I will have the advantages of a nationally recognised business name and the support of an experienced head office team and other franchisees.

"We provide a genuine 24-hour service and do not charge for call-outs or add on extras for working unsocial hours. Customers are given fixed-price, no obligation quotes and all our work is guaranteed. I've worked in the drainage industry for 11 years so I know all about latest techniques, such as closed circuit camera surveys and no-dig drain repairs."

Wayne and his wife, Marie, are launching the business with two fully equipped vans and two technicians and they expect to add more vans before the end of the year. Marie will handle customer calls and office administration.

However, it is unlikely that their two children will be joining them in the business. Ben, 15, wants to be an archaeologist and Jessica, 13, wants to train as a vet. In his spare time Wayne enjoys fishing and dinghy sailing and helps out with the 2nd Wordsley Scout group in Dudley.

Drain Doctor Plumbing is a member of the UK Trades Confederation, which operates a customer evaluation system, and it was the first national organisation in its sector to register under the UK government's Quality Mark Approved scheme, which aims to protect householders from unscrupulous tradesmen.

Company director Jan Mitman said: "Its great to welcome Wayne back into the Drain Doctor Plumbing family. Were sure he will make a great success of the Wolverhampton franchise."

Making the Smart Choice

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

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

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

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

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

SAFECLEAN SERVICEMAN STEVE SCOOPS TOP AWARD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SAFECLEAN FRANCHISE MAKES FINANCIAL SENSE SAYS EX-BANK BOSS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gamekeeper Turned Poacher?

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Former Head of Training at ChipsAway takes on franchise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Safer Career with Franchising

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Nigel Lawrence
Safeclean
Birmingham


Why I chose franchising

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


What I did before taking up a franchise

I was an advertising agent for a local company.


How I raised the finance

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


The training and support I receive from my franchisor

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


The challenges I have faced

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


My advice to someone thinking of buying their first franchise

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


My plans for the future

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

Sign of a Good Thing

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Andrew Slater
Signs Express
Warwick


Why I chose franchising

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


What I did before taking up a franchise

I was a General Manager for a national sign company.


How I raised the finance

I released some equity from a property I owned.


The training and support I receive from my franchisor

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


The challenges I have faced

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


My advice to someone thinking of buying their first franchise

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


My plans for the future

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

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