I come from an accountancy and business consultancy background so I have helped a lot of companies and have a good understanding of how to grow them. As a working mum, I feel that it’s good practice to know how to structure your business so it’s not all dependent on you.
When my little girls were aged one and four, I felt that I didn’t want to be at the mercy of an employer and working long hours; I wanted to set up a business that would give me the flexibility to be a good mum and grow a company at the same time. I researched the domestic cleaning market and everything seemed outdated with old fashioned branding, so I decided to take the plunge, started in 2007 and grew rapidly.
I had a team of 12 housekeepers and I was able to juggle everything, but it came to a point in June 2010 where it felt right to franchise the business. The first port of call was to go to a British Franchise Association (BFA) workshop and I also got in touch with a franchise consultant who was also a professional working woman. I got a great franchise solicitor through the BFA, and I would definitely recommend getting a BFA-approved, very experienced franchise solicitor on board. Don’t try and use an ordinary commercial solicitor – it’s often the case that they don’t understand franchise structures.
A support system for franchisees
One of the things I’ve sought to do is ensure we have a support process for franchisees that is second to none. You have to make sure you understand all the key performance indicators and drivers in the business, the sales, the recruitment of team members, the marketing and finance and admin side and the training that goes with it. Any franchisee will have strengths and weaknesses in those areas so we make sure we fill in the gaps and help them to grow.
I’m also really careful about who I select. In order to prevent failures I’ve made sure I’m clear about the type of people I want to recruit. They’ve got to have my ethics, professionalism, the right image, communication skills and core business competencies to ensure they are successful. You have to be selective.
One of my business philosophies is that unless you’re continually open to feedback and new ideas you will stagnate. We are a contemporary 21st century franchise so I always say to franchisees if you have an idea, talk to us. We may say we’ve already tried it and it didn’t work, or we might say that’s a great idea, let’s try it and see if we can roll it out.
A structured franchisee growth plan
You need to have a structured plan for franchisee growth. At Bright and Beautiful, the aim is for franchisees to turn over £72,000 in the first year and to reach £200,000 or so by year three. We follow the BFA ethical guidelines on how we structure our ongoing franchise agreement which includes a management service fee, which for us is 8 per cent of a franchisee’s turnover.
In terms of recruiting more franchisees, I’ve tried to advertise and network outside of the ‘traditional’ franchise pool (franchise shows, BFA, franchise websites) since a lot of people don’t know what a franchise is; many people want to start a business but a lot need [the safety net of] low start up costs and a proven plan.
We’ve already got a team of four in our head office as franchise mentors. It’s important to ensure you’re not growing at the expense of quality support – that’s unethical and unfair to franchisees. I’ve got the infrastructure in place now to double the business and give all my franchisees the guidance they need.