Dream Doors Franchisee Polly Smalley, Guildford & Berkshire

I bought a copy of The Franchise Magazine after a friend recommended that my husband Toby and I look into franchising. It kept falling open on the Dream Doors page so we contacted them for more information and arranged to meet them at the franchise exhibition in Birmingham.

I was working as a PA to two directors and Toby was a Print Production Manager. With two children under nine, we wanted to work for ourselves so we could spend more time as a family. We bought Dream Doors Guildford in 2004. At that time you could run the business part-time. I had so many appointments that we both decided to work in the business full-time. We then bought the Berkshire postcode and opened our showroom opposite the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. It's central to both territories, on a road that runs parallel with the bypass. There's a big Marks & Spencer at the end of the road which people use as a cut through rather than the bypass.

When we opened the showroom in July 2005, sales doubled. Our turnover for 2005 was £201,000. In 2006 we'd achieved this by June! We have two very large territories, so in 2007 we're aiming to open two showrooms and to employ a fitting manager. Within three to four years we aim to have four showrooms. Our average customer is between 40 and 60 years old and we have a good conversion rate of 47 per cent, so the work is definitely out there.

It certainly pays to have a showroom and you definitely need two people working in the business. I'd advise others looking at Dream Doors to decide if they are prepared to work hard and listen to head office. The support from Dream Doors has been very good, but if you don't put the hard work in, you won't get anything out.