Sue and Jane Maclaughlin, Coleraine, Bluebird Care, Northern Ireland

"Being associated with a quality household name has boosted our credibility within our territory"

Unhappy with the level of care their father received, sisters Sue and Jane Maclaughlin decided to be proactive and look into becoming owners of a care at home business. As neither had experience of working within the sector, the sisters joined Bluebird Care, an established brand that fitted their criteria.

"Investing in the Bluebird Care franchise was a low risk way for us to get into business as we would have access to a proven business model and ongoing support," explains Sue. "The care at home industry is now highly regulated in Northern Ireland so it has been beneficial to have the support of the franchisor behind us every step of the way. With Bluebird Care's help we launched our Coleraine-based franchise in a matter of months and are already experiencing month-on-month growth.

"As Jane and I wanted to become business partners, it meant one of us had to move. I was happy to leave my local government job in England and head back to Northern Ireland to be nearer to her because it was a virgin territory, so we would have the pick of locations.

"I play an active role in the day-to-day running of the business, while Jane continues to teach. However, once the business is established, Jane will join the business on a full-time basis and we will share the responsibility. Before the launch of the franchise, I went on a one-week training course, and since then have continued to receive excellent support from head office.

"Bluebird Care's partnership with Boots the chemist is an invaluable source of indirect advertising. This is because being associated with a quality household name has boosted our credibility within our territory, especially as we are the first Bluebird Care franchise owners in Northern Ireland.

"I love being my own boss because I have control over my work/life balance. Since I became a Bluebird Care franchise owner, I am less stressed and have job satisfaction - it is a great feeling to know Jane and I are providing a service that improves the lives of those who need help in their homes."