Build a profitable business, delivering a service that makes a difference to people's lives

Winners of the Dietcare New Franchise Owner of the Year award, partners Denise Drummond Scott and Leslie Allen from Belfast reflect on their successful first year of trading

With three successful clinics up and running in one year, business is going well for Dietcare franchise owners Denise Drummond Scott and Leslie Allen. In recognition of their hard work and success so far, Denise and Les have won the Dietcare New Franchise Owner of the Year award. "We are absolutely delighted and can't believe we have won," enthuses Denise. " We are pleased that our hard work has raised the profile of Dietcare in Northern Ireland.

"Since the launch of our franchise in February 2009 we have worked hard to promote our business, which covers Belfast and the surrounding area. One way we promote our franchise is by submitting adverts, promotions and features to local newspapers about Dietcare to generate more custom. I think our dedication and enthusiasm for Dietcare, combined with our success, are the reasons why we have won the New Franchise Owner of the Year award."

Before they joined Dietcare, Denise held a senior role within a different diet company for three years. She decided to leave because the business opportunity was insecure and not viable.

She and her partner Les decided to research franchise opportunities and made a shortlist of affordable brands that would provide them with a proven business model that made financial sense. Dietcare was one of the short listed companies, because it is an ethical, weight management franchise.

"I must admit I was sceptical about working within another diet company at first, because there are a lot of diet companies out there that are driven solely by consumerism - pushing sales of supplements and add on products," she reflects. "However, Dietcare is completely different because it really cares for its clients. With Dietcare, clients achieve the best results because they see a diet advisor on a one-to-one basis and receive a tailor-made healthy diet plan. Whereas group diets and weigh ins are, in my opinion, designed to push as many people through the doors without addressing the individual needs of the clients."

Denise made an appointment to visit the founder of Dietcare Norah Lane at her clinic in England and within half an hour knew that Dietcare was the perfect franchise for her and Les. Denise recalls: "During my time with Norah I sat in on a few of her clinic sessions to get an idea of what it would be like to operate the franchise and was very impressed. I found Norah's passion for the business very encouraging."

As part of the franchise package, Denise attended an initial two-week training course. This covered all aspects of running the business as well as a Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) exam. While in terms of support she can contact Norah and the head office team at any point.

Denise continues: "Our first clinic opened at a private gym within their treatment facilities and our second at a council owned theatre complex in one of their meeting rooms. We have employed a diet advisor who runs a third clinic in a Belfast City country club in their physiotherapy rooms. We plan to move one of our clinic sessions to Belfast City centre so that the Dietcare service is more accessible soon.

"We have built a good reputation thanks to word of mouth recommendations and see on average 15-20 clients a day. Within the next couple of months we would like to invest in a second territory and plan to employ someone to oversee the development of the brand in that area. I love the fact that while we are building a new business we are really making a difference to people's lives. Our aim this year is to win the Established Dietcare Franchise Owner of the Year award!"

Interview by Jess Sturman