After establishing a successful business, Ben Grose had a decision to make: continue down the same horse-drawn road he had already started on, or travel down another path?
Ben was no stranger to being self-employed, with 5am starts all the way through to 9pm finishes – he owned a horse-drawn funeral company and it was doing well. He took care of everything, from teaching and breaking in his young horses to driving and maintaining the lorry, and setting up the horses and hearse – ensuring everything was immaculate for the very important job that they had to do.
Ben had always worked with horses, competing internationally as a carriage driver. The problem was his work with horses wasn’t giving him the time to enjoy his passion for racing. The business that he had built depended totally on him being in it. He needed to build a sustainable business and spend time working on the business, not always in the business.
He knew that he had learnt some valuable skills along the way, including logistics management, marketing himself, money management, people skills, running his own team and ensuring they carried out their roles in a professional manner at all times due to the sensitive nature of his business. He knew he loved being outdoors and didn’t mind early starts – but he also knew he needed a career change. How could he still be his own boss, put his existing skill base to use and still be able to successfully build his own business, in what could be a completely new industry?
Once Ben had started to think like this, his answer became obvious and after attending franchise seminars he knew this was the way he wanted to go. He also knew he liked working outdoors and not being confined to one single place or workspace all of the time. Once he had started to narrow down the types of business that he could be involved in one thing became clear – the business also needed regular income from repeat business and good client retention. He decided that commercial grounds maintenance had many positives, which in turn introduced him to Envirocare in April 2013.
Ben says: “I was interested in Envirocare because of the people there, their head office had a really good vibe and it seemed a great opportunity with lots of support to learn something new.” So after raising part of the money himself, and partly with the help of his bank, Ben joined the team at head office for his in-house training.
As Ben’s only previous gardening experience was confined to the maintenance of the horse yard, which included basic lawn mowing and jet washing, he was about to have to learn a lot of new skills. After a 4-week intensive training course Ben was sent into the wide world of commercial gardening with the Envirocare team always not far away from him should he need them.
Ben says that his day is very different now; he may have more training courses to attend, and he puts aside a whole morning dedicated to marketing his business and in the afternoon will tend to his clients’ sites ensuring they are to brand standard. He adds: “I love that I have my own business and that I decide what happens throughout the day and yet I have the back up of help and advice when I need it.”
Ben also says that it was important to him that the business was an established franchisor. “As part of my training I spent time with existing franchisees which enabled me to understand the business far quicker. It was also important that the business was a member of the British Franchise Association and in Envirocare’s case the franchise director is on the board of directors of the industry regulator.”
Ben’s advice to anyone considering franchising is to follow the model: “It is a fact – if you give out quotes as Envirocare show you, you will get contracts, I am already one month ahead of my business plan.”