Franchisee of the Year Finalists announced

The finalists for this year's British Franchise Association Franchisee of the Year Awards have been selected and the winners are announced on the 2nd October at a black tie gala dinner held at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham

The theme for this year's British Franchise Association (bfa) Franchisee of the Year awards is 'Managing Change', requiring the hopeful candidates to demonstrate how they have reacted to and managed different changes such as changes within the business environment, market and technology. The judging panel includes bfa President Sir Bernard Ingham, bfa Director General Brian Smart, HSBC Head of Franchising Cathryn Hayes, Farrah Rose from Howarth Franchising and John Chambers from Chambers & Co. The nine finalists are also competing for a £5,000 cash prize courtesy of HSBC.

Frank joined Autosmart in 2006 after he was made redundant from his role as Regional Manager of a supermarket. He operates one mobile showroom in the Aberdeenshire area. 'This year has been brilliant, I have managed to treble sales and feel immensely proud to be nominated for this award because it recognises my hard work over the last two years,' says Frank. 'Hopefully it will inspire others to take the plunge and invest in a franchise! The transition from employee to franchisee was challenging - I did not realise how much work went into running your own business. So I was grateful to have the constant support of the franchisor. In the past year, despite increased competition, sales have continued to grow.

'I have driven sales by maintaining an absolute focus on customer service. Delegating all non sales tasks and optimising journey call schedules has allowed me to spend more time working closely with my customers, providing them with the best value cleaning solution.'

Lisa worked part-time in Dominos as a teenager after she gave up gymnastics. Although she had always wanted to be a PE teacher, when she got to university she realised her future was with Dominos. In four years she worked her way up from part-time employee to manager. Seeking a bigger challenge Lisa invested in the franchise and now owns four outlets that have a combined turnover of £2 million. 'It is a great honour to be a finalist and if I win I will put the prize money towards the launch of my fifth store,' she says. 'By store five I will hold the joint title as 'Dominos female franchisee of the world.'

'I have faced three changes: the transition from gymnast to working in Dominos as a teenager and making it my career, new competition and the economic instability. My team overcame competition by focusing on Domino's three principles of quality product, service and image.'

Trevor purchased the Nottingham territory with his wife Anne in 2006. In January 2007 they launched their first showroom and have a second showroom in the pipeline. 'To be a finalist for this award and have our achievements recognised not only by the franchisor but also by the bfa is fantastic,' enthuses Trevor. 'In the past year, we have faced many changes. The first change was leaving our safe jobs to set up the franchise and the other changes involved moving the office from home into a showroom and from there dealing with the overnight success and demand for our services.

'In order to accommodate the overwhelming demand for our services, we put into place new initiatives and introduced our sons Richard and Christopher to the business. The initiatives included developing an infrastructure capable of maintaining our high standards while growing the business in the future, investing in a warehouse and a new computer system, which helped departmentalise the business helping staff cope with the unprecedented level of business.'

Jenny owns the Chelmsford territory and has been a Fastsigns franchisee for 11 years. 'This award nomination is really a reflection of my staff's hard work,' explains Jenny. 'They take ultimate responsibility for the day-to-day running of the business and I could not have got this far without them. In the last year I have introduced a large format printer. This has changed the way we manufacture items and has saved labour time meaning we are able to complete projects in a shorter time frame.

'I have also introduced additional marketing campaigns and tighter control on accounts so that not only should we increase sales but we should also avoid cash flow problems in the future.'

Mark joined McDonald's as an employee in 1982 and became a franchisee in 1994. Overtime he purchased four restaurants in his Kettering and Corby territory. Last year, Mark sold his Kettering and Corby restaurants to a fellow franchisee to pursue a better McDonald's development opportunity along the A14 corridor from Cambridge to Felixstow.

Mark says: 'I am flattered to be nominated for this award. In the past year I have faced many changes, I have gone from operating four restaurants to nine. Now I not only face the challenge of operating more restaurants but also working within several new communities.

'With the new territory I was forced to take a less hands-on role initially because I lived so far away and at the time uprooting my family was not an option because my children were taking their exams. I overcame this challenge by inviting two of my senior team members, Richard and Jacqui Campbell from my old territory, to move with the business. This ensured I knew the business was in safe hands.'


Neil and Lorraine launched their Oscar Pet Food franchise in Sidmouth 10 years ago with an area of only 5,000 households. Since then the couple have extended their delivery area and now cover an area in East Devon of over 50,000 households. Neil comments: 'We are delighted to be finalists for this award and would not have been able to get this far without the tremendous support from our franchisor. We have implemented and faced several changes. In the early days helping develop a computer system, which the network uses today, piloting a distributor scheme in 2003 and having input on the recent packaging and product changes.

'Recently we have improved cash flow by not accepting cheques as a payment method and have managed the recent inevitable product price rises. We have just reduced delivery days to three days a week which helps with the rising cost of fuel as well as giving us more time to focus on expanding our business.'

Ex-miner Craig Harrison joined onsite hydraulic hose replacement specialist Pirtek as a manager in 1993. In 2001 he became a franchisee and took over the Stoke-on-Trent territory. Since then he has bought the Wigan and Warrington territories and has built up the business to a combined turnover of £1.8 million. 'The biggest change I have faced is the transition from coal miner to the owner of a million pound business. It is an incredible feeling to have made a success of my business and to be a finalist for this award.

'The nomination is a reflection of my team's hard work and dedication. When old industries such as the potteries and coalmines closed in Stoke the team went out looking for new industries to target our mobile hose replacement service. We worked very closely with the local council and planning office to identify what new building projects were coming up and getting in early to ensure we won the business.'

Angie launched her contemporary portrait franchise in York in 2003 and since then has gone on to open her studio in Hull. Before she became a franchisee she managed her father's Venture studio in Beverley. 'To be nominated for this award is a great honour and for my application to be supported by my franchisor is a great achievement,' says Angie. 'My studio teams are so passionate about Venture that when they heard I was a finalist they were incredibly excited for me.

'In the last 12 months I have introduced changes to make the business work more effectively, including a management structural change at the Hull studio. When the studio manager left in August 2007, I promoted members of the current team to department head roles and team leaders. In doing so, I made several people accountable for different areas of the business, introducing far more contingency and expertise within the team. This also ensured that hard work was recognised and rewarded with promotion.'

Christina's territory covers much of Surrey and Hampshire including Guildford and Woking. She joined medical insurance provider WPA five years ago as a representative and became a franchisee in 2005 when the company started franchising. 'I am proud and delighted that WPA nominated me for this award. Our success in reaching the final stage is a great acknowledgement of WPA's innovative and supportive approach.

'This year I have focused on developing my business model, reducing dependence on telesales and creating new 'routes to market' ensuring the business is not exposed during these times of apparent recession. I have maintained the high level of customer service, reviewed customer needs, recruited new members of the sales team and built relationships with other companies such as independent financial advisors and accountants.

Reported by Jess Sturman