Jayne and Chris Woods
Booking a family camping holiday turned out to be the first step on the path to a very welcome and complete change of lifestyle for Jayne and Chris Woods, franchisees at the Teversal, Nottinghamshire campsite of The Camping and Caravanning Club.
For some time, the couple had wanted to do something different and had been exploring ideas for a new direction. Jayne had many years' experience working with children, first as an occupational therapist before becoming a foster carer. Chris had been a sales director with an electronics company, working long hours and hardly seeing his family.
They both felt they needed a change, to be more in control of their lives and to reap the rewards of their own efforts. They knew they wanted to run their own business, to work together and, ideally, to work outdoors but they had not been able to identify the right business for them.
However, they discovered exactly what they were looking for when they were choosing a site for a camping holiday with their little boy. Jayne explained: "We were looking at sites on the Club's website. As we read it, we saw some information about the Club's franchise opportunity. It looked really interesting and the more we read, the more we could see that this met all our criteria, although we didn't fully understand the franchising concept at the time," she continued.
They researched the franchise sector thoroughly and discovered the many benefits and advantages it offered over starting a new business from scratch. "We recognised the value of being part of a national organisation, especially such a well-known one, with its proactive marketing. We could learn the Club's tried and tested systems that have been refined over many years, as well as benefit from their training and on-going support," Jayne added.
Convinced that franchising was the way forward, Jayne and Chris completed the various stages of the application process and began looking for a suitable site. Finally, they chose Teversal, then a privately-owned park which, the previous year, had won the accolade awarded by English Tourist Board of "Caravan Park of the Year". (2005)
Jayne said: "We moved from Hertfordshire in March 2006, just four weeks after first viewing the site, and had doubled the occupancy by the following summer," Jayne said. "We were very pleased with our achievements in the first year but felt there was still more we could do. We listened to customers' comments to help us refine our plans for the future.
"We are a 5-star site and have the AA's highest rating. We aim to provide the best facilities block in the Club's network and we have invested heavily to give our customers a luxury experience of outdoor holidays. We have also improved the infrastructure of the site and introduced some great eco-friendly innovations.
"We now have 10 individual bathrooms, a big family bathroom with a range of baby-changing aids, laundry room with ironing station and also improved facilities for disabled people. We are harvesting rain water to use for flushing the loos and have installed energy-saving light tubes in the roof for more efficient use of electricity."
Jayne, Chris and son Samuel live on the site, which is open all year. "Running our own business is very rewarding and we really enjoy it," Jayne said. "We work hard, especially during the summer, but we wouldn't change it and have no regrets at all. In fact, we are keen to have another Club site in the future.
"We could never have done this on our own or achieved so much," Jayne summed up.