Reap the rewards- Countrywide Signs ticks all the right boxes

With ambitious growth goals Alistair Betts is working hard to extract the full potential out of his Countrywide Signs business

Since Alistair Betts took over the Norfolk-based Countrywide Signs franchise in December 2007 he has successfully increased the turnover by 65 per cent. 'Getting to this stage has been a lot of hard work,' explains Alistair. 'I am a firm believer that you need to put the hours into a business in order to reap the rewards and so as a result a large proportion of my time is taken up running the business.

'Before I became a Countrywide Signs franchisee I was a Mental Health Nurse managing a Nursing Home & Hospital. I had always liked the idea of working for myself and wanted to gain commercial management experience. The thought of using an established business model and having ongoing support and guidance to hand was really appealing. I wanted a business venture that demonstrated potential development and growth with limited viable competition in its chosen industry and came across Countrywide Signs.'

With 10 years' experience and an established network of 56 franchisees, Countrywide Signs supplies, erects and maintains 'For Sale' signs. The company ticked all the right boxes for Alistair because it has the scope to develop and grow in an assigned territory. 'At the moment I have one van operating in my territory and two members of full-time staff,' says Alistair. 'I hope to have a second van on the road in the near future.

'Before the launch of my franchise, Countrywide Signs put me through an initial training course. This involves two days of learning in a classroom environment, two days with a Sales Manager and then a number of weeks learning on the job shadowing a franchisee. With regards to support, help is always available from the sales, operations, administration and accounts teams.

'I have devised a three to four year business plan with my attention mainly aimed at building up the business to its full potential. By my fourth year I hope to be in a position where I can sell the business on if I want to.' Alistair would recommend Countrywide Signs to anyone who is hardworking, enthusiastic and aware of the workload. He says: 'Countrywide Signs is a great opportunity for someone who wants an idea of what it is like to be self-employed with the safety net of ongoing support and training.'

Interview by Jess Sturman