Enjoying the freedom to make things happen
The year that Terry Houghton turned 50, he was made redundant from his role as operations director for a manufacturing company when it went into administration.
After three decades in large organisations a regional franchise was not a career choice he’d considered before, but since joining a franchise Terry hasn’t looked back. For the last four-and-a-half years he has been a successful Business Doctor franchisee for Merseyside, and is a mentor for others in the north-west.
“After 30 years in manufacturing, I applied for similar jobs and had a couple of interviews,” he explains. “I wasn’t able to find what I really wanted, so I gave up on that idea and looked at buying a business instead.”
As a mechanical engineer with decades of commercial experience, he felt motivated by the thought of running his own manufacturing business; disappointingly, the companies that he found for sale were not high on the sellability scale.
He said: “There were issues with these companies – mainly that they heavily reliant on the business owner, which meant that when they left, there was no business to sell. This kind of scenario isn’t peculiar to manufacturing; I’ve seen SMEs from all sectors make the same mistake. Businesses need proper structure.”
Not put off by the idea of running his own business, and now with an interest in coaching, Terry attended a franchise exhibition in Manchester. “I didn’t know anything about franchising at all at that point, and I hadn’t realised that you could coach businesses as a franchise.”
He spent several months on due diligence – trying to find a franchise offering that was a good fit for how he wanted to work, and which would support him. “I didn’t have the confidence to build my own brand, so the franchise route seemed a good idea.
“Even franchises in the same sector are all quite different. I wanted to enter a situation where I felt my expertise was valued, and not one where there was too much head office control.”
Business Doctors “ticked all the boxes” for Terry – and has continued to do so. “I’d never considered franchising before so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there have been no nasty surprises even though it was scary – not from the perspective of doing the work, but actually getting the work.”
On the other hand, what has delighted Terry was discovering how dynamic the small business world is compared to the corporate world. “In an SME people make decisions and act on them, rather than debating something for months. If I make a suggestion I get to see the results fairly quickly.”
In choosing the right franchise for him, Terry’s ability to use his experience to its best advantage for his clients has been unrestricted – and has got excellent results. This, and the support and camaraderie he has found at Business Doctors, gives him a high level of job satisfaction.
And fittingly, he enjoys using his influence to help companies add value to themselves from a sellability perspective, as well as through expansion.