Redundancy: A new beginning

Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst – why there’s never been a better time to go into franchising

In the world of work, never has there been a more dreaded word than: ‘Redundant.’ For years, you’ve worked tirelessly for your company and then suddenly, and often without warning, the axe falls. Yes, there is a pay-off – but suddenly finding yourself out of work can be a devastating and heart-breaking blow to both you and those around you.

Sadly, as Britain teeters on the brink of a triple dip recession, never has this threat been more real. With unemployment standing at 2.49 million*, these harsh economic times led to over 553,000 redundancies being made last year alone. As a result, millions of UK workers now live in a constant fear of losing their job.

With such insecurity in the workplace, it’s no wonder so many people are looking into franchising as a way forward. Ian Whitlock knows the feeling of being made redundant only too well. “I was made redundant twice while working in the financial services industry,’ reveals Ian. “After the second time I was just fed up and wanted a change.

“Instead of looking for a job, I began looking for a strong, well-established franchise: one with a good reputation, long track record and plenty of existing franchises making good money.” Ian chose ChipsAway – a UK franchise which provides high quality repairs to minor car paint and bodywork damage.

“In my first two days, I’d written 114 estimates worth £18,595 and booked £4,335 of repairs into the diary. A further £5,160 of bookings flowed in over the following weeks.” After only a year, Ian expanded from a one-man band to running a fixed CarCare Centre, taking on two employees in the process.

“I wasn’t expecting to be this busy or for business to be this good. It’s been a blinding success!’ he enthuses.

Franchising, as a business option, is often more secure than both traditional self employment and increasingly, full-time employment. Many solo ventures without the back up and support of a franchisor fail within 18 months of operation.

The NatWest/bfa Franchise Survey 2012 reported over 91 per cent of franchise owners were profitable with only 2.6 per cent suffering financial failure last year.

In this environment, for some, redundancy can often be a catalyst to re-evaluate career paths, offering the opportunity to try something different and even fulfil a lifelong dream – Pina Cogna is one such person.

“When I was made redundant after thirty years, I really felt that this was my opportunity to start my own business,” recalls Pina. “I’m a cautious person by nature and losing my job made long-term security and stability a higher priority than ever.

“I spent months researching the pitfalls of being self-employed and how to give myself the best chance of success. It was very clear to me that investing in a franchise was by far the safest option.” Pina discovered nursing and domiciliary care franchise, Kare Plus, which supplies medical and non-medical personnel to NHS hospitals, some of the UK’s largest private health and nursing care facilities, as well as those requiring care in their own home.

“In Kare Plus, I found an opportunity far removed from my previous career but which ticked the relevant boxes.

“It enabled me to utilise my management skills but crucially offered the necessary training and ongoing support to allow me to move into an entirely new marketplace…and prosper!”

Confidence for the future of franchising springs from both franchise owners and the franchisors, too. Currently over 1,500 companies in the UK are using franchising as a route to business growth. It is one area of business still holding steady.

“Simply buying a franchise can’t guarantee success,’ says Tim Harris, Chief Executive of ChipsAway and Ovenclean, “but for an increasing number of people facing redundancy or worried about their long-term job prospects, franchising can offer a strong, lower risk alternative to their employment. “What its does is provide the formula for a profitable business and in our experience, people who have been made redundant are usually keen and driven, which often makes them exceptional franchise owners.”

For Ian Whitlock, becoming a franchise owner with ChipsAway has led to such rewards. “I’m much happier in my new life – I enjoy the hands-on role and most of all I’m glad to be free of the stress of the corporate world,” says a delighted Ian. “It’s not rocket science or luck. You make your own luck by working hard, planning your marketing and giving it 100 per cent! I wouldn’t change my life now for the world!”

Tim Harris, Chief Executive of ChipsAway and Ovenclean, highlights the advantages franchising offers to those facing redundancy.

Lower Risk Franchising offers much lower risks than going it alone. You are buying into a turnkey business template with a tried and tested model that has been honed and perfected over time. Investing in an established and recognised brand gives your business even more of a head start with proven demand, confirmed marketplace and previous franchisee successes.

Trying Something New Redundancy can often be a catalyst to re-evaluate career paths. Most franchise offerings are designed for individuals with little or no experience in a specific industry as good franchisors will provide extensive initial and ongoing training allowing you to try something new whilst also assuring you the best possible start.

Support Network Following redundancy, self-employment can be daunting. The first few months are undoubtedly the toughest and often the loneliest. Franchising bridges this gap, offering franchise owners access to the support network of a bigger brand.

Stability In the current turbulent economy, franchising could offer more stability than being employed or indeed going it alone. Also, if you work for yourself you are not going to have to worry about redundancy, which for many is the one burden that is most important to avert.

Written by Chris Morris