Why franchising worked for me

Overview

After 26 years in the insurance industry, I proved specific experience in a sector isn't needed to set up a successful franchise. Having moved my family to Devon to avoid the city commute, I decided to turn to franchising. I saw this as a way of coupling the benefits of running my own business with the advantages of being able to work from home and spend more time with my family.

The challenge

I began researching franchise businesses over about four months and kept coming back to Netstationers. When I eventually spoke to the management team there, my fear of signing up to a franchise and watching the company take my money and run disappeared. Not only did they inspire confidence as individuals but I was also given the contact details of 10 to 12 of their partners, of varying size and success, so I could speak to them about their experiences.

I joined in November 2006 and began two months of extensive training, covering the technology and industry as a whole before officially launching his franchise in January 2007. One of the major reasons I chose Netstationers was the support and training offered to franchisees. I had no experience of running my own business before so needed a franchise that would provide me with a broad level of management support to ensure that everything ran smoothly. I found it really important to have support not only when starting out but also during the ongoing development of the business.

The solution

With no formal experience of direct sales or the stationery business, I approached the market with the same level of professionalism that I'd been used to during 26 years within the insurance industry. Initially I found the prospect of contacting potential customers a little daunting - but after my training I realised that it is less about selling and more about filling a requirement. This way of thinking has made it a lot easier for me. By taking advantage of the business model, my customers and I can benefit from the collective purchasing power of a larger entity and streamlined business model. That means I can offer lower overall product prices and have lower administration overheads than traditional contract office suppliers, dealers and mail order specialists.

Key lesson

It wasn't all plain sailing. Getting traction with customers was tough to start with. But if you work smart, have the energy and self-belief, there is no reason why you should not reap the rewards of your hard work and generate a significant income. Becoming a franchisee was truly a life-changing decision for me but what is clear is that you only get out of it what you put in.

Top tip

I never "cold call" from a long list of contacts but instead prepare a more targeted list of companies I have researched and qualified as those that we are most likely to make a difference. By taking this sort of approach I can more readily engage with the decision maker to understand their challenges and establish how we can help to solve their business problem.

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