"Franchising has given me the opportunity to have it all"

By becoming a Chemex franchise owner, Margaret Crinks has been able to manage a successful franchise with her husband Stephen and run a household while looking after their daughter

Following the birth of their daughter, Margaret and Stephen Crinks decided to become self-employed so that they could spend more quality time together as a family. After two years of thorough research, the couple found their ideal franchise - hygiene and cleaning product supplier Chemex. Fast forward 17 years and the couple have gone on to build a successful business with 250 repeat clients.

"When I found out I was pregnant, my husband Stephen and I made the decision to change careers and build a family-friendly business," reflects Margaret (pictured 4th from the left with Stephen). "That way we would have complete control over the hours we worked and would be able to fit running the business around taking care of our daughter.

"Neither of us had any previous experience of running our own business - I used to be a personal assistant while Stephen's background was in hotel management - so we decided to look into franchising. The thought of ongoing training, use of an established business model as well as the backing of a large support network was very appealing. To us, it seemed the safest way of starting a business, as we would not be completely on our own.

"We were amazed at the number of franchises available. Chemex stood out because the business model involves replenishing essential cleaning and hygiene products and building a repeat customer base - so it is designed to withstand a recession."

Once they had completed the initial training, Margaret and Stephen took over the Winchester, Basingstoke, Newbury and Andover territory. They rapidly built up the business and, over the years, their efforts have been acknowledged with the Chemex Franchisee of the Year award in 1995 and by being shortlisted in 2007 for the bfa Franchisee of the Year award.

"Our daughter was two when we took over the business," continues Margaret. "Being able to work flexible hours from our office at home was really beneficial as I was able to juggle looking after our daughter with the bookkeeping, mail shots and search for new business. Stephen and I have very defined roles - he delivers the cleaning products and liaises with the clients face-to-face while I take care of the administration and marketing side of the business.

"Franchising has given me the opportunity to have it all. If I had remained in employment I would have found it difficult to have a fulfilling full-time career while raising my daughter and running a home. We owe our excellent family life and lifestyle to Chemex and are happy with our business, which continues to meet our financial targets year-on-year."

Interview by Jess Sturman