The accidental million-pound couple
Award-winning franchising couple, Penny and Graham Brierley, had no intention of doing more than finding a “little job” for Penny to fit in around her family – and then they discovered franchising.
Nine years later, the husband and wife team are the top performers in the X-Press Legal Services network, with a turnover exceeding £1,000,000 and 15 employees.
Their exceptional growth within the original territory based in Gloucestershire has been achieved by a combination of hard work, proactive local marketing, continuous networking, providing exemplary customer service and having a ‘can-do’ attitude.
As well as a special award for achieving a £1m turnover in 2014, Penny and Graham have twice previously received X-Press’s Franchisee of the Year accolade; the first after a phenomenal start to the business, and a second in 2012. In all, Penny and Graham have earned a clutch of 10 awards from their franchisor.
X-Press managing director, Lynne Lister, said: “Penny and Graham are very dedicated and provide an excellent service to their clients. They work hard, not just in their own business, but they also contribute greatly to the network as a whole.”
Penny commented: “Naturally, we are thrilled to receive this special award and have thoroughly enjoyed being franchisees. To be successful, you need an excellent relationship with your franchisor and X-Press has always provided first class support. We also employ a very experienced and competent team of people who ensure everything in the office runs smoothly.”
Penny, formerly an ophthalmic optician, had always wanted her own business but it never crossed her mind that one day she would be heading such a big enterprise. She explains: “I trained as an optician and worked in the sector for 20 years. I enjoyed the work but as time went on I found myself less resistant to patients’ bugs and seemed to be suffering constantly with illness. I felt it was time to do something else.
“I decided to research franchising, because I was cautious about starting something new on my own. I recognised all the benefits and advantages of franchising, including training and support. I liked the X-Press model because the franchise can be run initially from home, with modest start-up costs and overheads.”
Penny’s business grew so fast that just 15 months after setting up in 2006 she needed to move to serviced offices where husband Graham soon joined her. He had been on the X-Press training course precisely so he could step in at a moment’s notice if Penny suddenly needed extra support.
Penny said: “Graham went very much as an ‘in case’, with no intention of giving up his job at the time. However, he was tired of the travelling he did and so he opted to join me.”
Asked about her advice for others, she added: “I believe that one of the keys to successful franchising is to have a good relationship with your franchisor and of course it is crucial to follow their system, which in our case is excellent. You must also employ reliable people so you can delegate tasks with confidence, which is particularly important as your business grows.”
Penny finds it hard to believe how her planned ‘little’ home-based job has grown and prospered. Now with well-trained employees to look after the routine aspects of the business, Penny is the face of the business.
She enjoys meeting clients and attending networking events where she is always on the look-out for new opportunities but has no ambition to acquire another territory. She comments: “Expansion is not in the plan. We enjoy what we are doing and have no regrets; this is the best thing we ever did. We would recommend it to anyone but with the proviso that, like everything else worthwhile in life, it’s all down to you and the effort you put in.
“We believe we could not have grown so fast if we had tried to start this ourselves. It would have taken many, many, more years to achieve so much on our own.”