Graham Watts, Belvoir, North London.
For the last 10 years I'd been a landlord, managing my own properties, and found that this wasn't really compatible with working full-time as an IT manager. The logical step to me was to start looking for a way to concentrate my efforts in the property market.
Rather than just developing a portfolio of my own property and continuing as a landlord, I wanted to develop a successful property business. Although I had good experience of property from a landlord and tenant point of view, I didn't feel confident enough to start a business from scratch so my thoughts turned to franchising.
I wanted to be taught how to run a business on a day-to-day basis, coupled with a high level of ongoing support and I found this through Belvoir - I'd dealt with them previously and knew them to be a very professional organisation. Following my research I went to Belvoir head office, found them to very open and approachable and took it from there. Belvoir's a great brand with a proven track record and they were offering an ideal opportunity.
The initial training was very extensive - a three week course, followed by a programme of ongoing training, support and mentoring - it was very good indeed. I'm able to ask for further help any time and Belvoir have even aided me in training my staff. They've been absolutely fantastic.
Belvoir has a great franchisee network which adds to the supportive nature of the business. There's good communication between us that culminates in regular regional meetings where we can share our ideas. There's a sense of teamwork involved, though, of course, I run and am responsible for my own business.
I launched my business in December last year with full backing from Belvoir. There's a strong level of marketing and a lot's done to make people aware of the Belvoir brand. After that it's down to me to find new business, of which there is plenty out there. The business is developing well and is currently ahead of target. I'm about to recruit my second member of staff and am aiming to open my second branch by the end of next year. I'm happy to say that we're doing really well.