Jonathan and Maureen Hargreaves-Townson
Jonathan and Maureen Hargreaves-Townson have demonstrated how to build a successful business from modest beginnings.
Their franchise started out literally as one man and a van, but from that they have built one of the top-performing businesses in Rainbow International's UK network, creating 17 full-time jobs in the process.
Their dedicated approach and reinvestment in the business has seen sustained growth, with a recent example of their success being the clinching of a specialist cleaning contract with a large supermarket group.
They are consistently winning plaudits for their service and in 2012 were voted Rainbow’s Franchisees of the Year.
Why did you want to go into business for yourself?
I wanted to give my wife and I stability and through observation I found that the only way to do this was to have people working for me. The bonus that has come from this is that we have also created stability for our employees who have become our Rainbow family.
Why did you choose franchising?
I was 30 years old when I started looking for a business and I soon realised that I needed an established business if I was to reach my goals quickly. Franchising gives you an established business with all the health and safety standards, policies and procedures in place. You basically buy a business that is 3 to 4 years ahead of a start-up business and you have more chance of earning a profit in your first year.
What attracted you to the Rainbow International franchise?
A friend of mine that I had worked with in the past has a Rainbow franchise and he had been paying more in corporation tax then I had been earning! He gave me lots of information regarding the business, which helped me then make the decision to buy a Rainbow franchise.
How has business been since starting your franchise?
We have run the business as it is supposed to be run and followed the system which has been ever-changing and adapting to suit our customers, and so far in the last 11 years we have made a profit every year.
How do you manage the work/life family balance?
My wife is a partner in the business and works with me. When starting any business the commitment in the beginning is very demanding. The hours are long and exhausting but the reward gives you the balance.
You need to create a team structure that allows you to delegate your workload, which in turn gives you more free time, but this can take anything from 3 to 5 years to get the right calibre of people in place, so you have to set this as a goal when you begin your business. Other franchisees ask me “how do you know when to employ someone else?” The answer I give them is “if your business is profitable and you are working more than 9 hours a day then you need to take someone else on. Always take a holiday for 2 weeks at least, away from the business, this will help you recharge and come back to work focused.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone on how to win business what would it be?
Think positively, negativity drains you and brings you down. Don’t be scared to go after new business. No amount of theory makes you an expert, you only become an expert by doing the work and learning from your mistakes. If someone asks if you can do a job the answer is always YES, it is amazing how you suddenly become an expert and people come to you for advice.
What business plans do you have to grow in the future?
I have not looked at my business plan for the last 5 years because it was forever changing and to keep updating it meant that I lost focus on what really mattered, growing the business. I set myself long-term goals, and short-term goals to achieve my long-term goals, and once I have achieved a goal I set another one. An example of this is when I first started my franchise, my long-term goal was to win Franchisee of the Year; we finally did this in January 2012. I have now set a new goal to be the only franchisee to win it three times!
I have a key ring that I carry around with me that says, ‘NO GOALS NO GLORY’ – this constantly reminds me to focus on my goals, whether they are personal or business goals.
What advice would you give those looking to start their own business?
If you are 50 per cent sure that you can be a success at any business you are looking at, TAKE THE RISK, don’t be the person who looks back at their life and wish they had taken the risk. I am a great believer in old sayings, because these are passed down from people that have experienced life. The best saying to answer this question is “it is better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all”.