How I chose a franchise - and what I've learned in six months
It took Peter Fleming a whole year of careful planning to move from being an employee of a global company to being his own boss at Business Doctors Cumbria. As he’s still a relatively new franchisee, it’s easy for him to recall his prior expectations and review them from the perspective of his first busy months of franchising. His insight into his experiences reveal how his expectations have panned out.
“After 28 years I was ready for a new challenge,” he explains. “I had a good salary and package but I felt I had to make a choice between security and something more fulfilling. I was ready for a better work-life balance too – at the time I was travelling a lot and spending several nights a week away from home.”
Understanding what was unfulfilling about his corporate job led Peter to analyse his own needs. “I reviewed my skillset and what I enjoy,” he says, “with the idea that I’d set up my own business. In all, I spent about a year getting to know myself and exploring the market and industry trends.
“I started to realise there were franchises offering what I wanted to do. So I researched them too, and came across Business Doctors, which seemed to fit how I worked and wanted to work; having and using a strategy model.”
He came away from his first meeting with Matt Levington and Rod Davies, co-founders of Business Doctors, feeling impressed; but rather than jump straight in Peter continued his research. “It was a six-month due diligence process. If I was going to leave a secure job, I had to give my fresh start the best chance.
"It’s important to see a franchise in operation, so I attended franchisee events and asked ‘can I see myself doing this?’ The answer was yes.
“So I produced two business models, comparing how I would go it alone versus going with a franchise, and identified my strengths and weaknesses, highlighting what I needed to learn. I looked at the Business Doctors offering, the training and support available, proven results and how their business model would enable me to scale up my business. The strength of a brand is important to me too, as it would add weight to my own.”
At the time, on another level Peter’s instinct told him that his personality was a great fit with the Business Doctors culture and philosophy. In the six months since he became a franchisee, he’s come to understand that this aspect of ‘trusting your gut’ when choosing a franchise is as relevant as research.
“In hindsight, it was right to believe that if you’re working for yourself, you have to make sure you enjoy what you’re doing. The rewards are beyond financial. Now, I have total control. I’m working as many hours as I was in the corporate world, but I’m investing in my brand and my future. My biggest challenge will be slowing down – I’m choosing to work 60-70 hours a week, but on the other hand I’ve only spent four or five nights away from home in the last six months.
“And I was right to do the groundwork too, but I think I did too much. It’s a big step to take the plunge and step out of a secure job. But I thought, what’s the worst that could happen? I could lose a bit of money and time. It’s about knowing what you’re getting into, but go with your gut, don’t overdo the research.
“It’s going better than I expected. I won contracts early on and I’m continuing to build my private clients, plus there is the support from Business Doctors and the other franchisees. Yes, even mentors sometimes need mentoring!”