Steve Hartland used to work long hours as a project manager at Gatwick airport. Then redundancy gave him the opportunity to move his family to the west country where, by joining Marla Custom Blinds, he fulfilled a long-standing desire to start his own business.
“After hearing the word 'restructuring' early last year, I started looking into a number of franchises,” says Steve. “And while a low investment and minimal overheads were appealing, what struck me most about Marla Custom Blinds was the people. The business is family-owned by its founders, Angela and Martin. They are not slick salespeople, but they are down-to-earth and genuine, and they have worked very hard to build a solid business that is now in a great position to franchise.”
He adds: “The support from Marla Custom Blinds has been fantastic. They've been brilliant and have gone well beyond the call of duty. I love the flexibility of this franchise, especially with a young family. I see much more of my son, often taking him to and from school and still managing to run my own business. I certainly don't miss working for someone else.”
Based in Hampshire, Marla Custom Blinds has been manufacturing, selling and installing blinds in the South of England for more than 15 years. The franchise can be operated from home, or scaled up with premises and multiple vans. But for franchisees like Steve Hartland, the attraction is in the low set up costs and the ability to work when, and for how many hours, he likes.
“We're delighted Steve decided to join us,” says Marla Custom Blinds' managing director, Martin Froud. “He's the type of person we are looking for in a franchisee. He's not afraid of hard work, and he's prepared to represent our brand ethically, treating his customers with the same respect that we have always done.
“Steve has also brought some of his own ideas to the table. And that's great. We know what makes our business successful here, but we certainly don't know everything. Anything that Steve has to offer that can improve Marla Custom Blinds is fantastic for us, and it's fantastic for any new franchisees.”