Franchisee to franchisor

Former franchise owner Sarah Jackson tells The Franchise Magazine how, learning from her own experiences, she was able create a successful and supportive franchise business model

When my business partner Claire Robinson and I decided to set up Extra Help, we already had firm ideas about how we wanted to run the business. The insight I’d gained from being a franchise owner was invaluable in deciding how I wanted to run the franchise model. Most importantly, we didn’t just want to sell a franchise and waltz off. Instead we wanted to provide as much assistance, help, information, research and service as possible. When franchise owners are happy, supported and feel able to add their own input, you create a great business.

Support

My franchisee experience reinforced my belief that the franchisor is not to just a head office. Franchise owners are individuals with their own personal circumstances and often need support.

My son was very ill when he was born and my franchise business was affected by the time I had to spend in hospital. With Extra Help, we deliberately factored support into our business model. All our databases are held in the cloud and we have a virtual answering service to pass on messages by email. If franchisees are going through a difficult time, head office can support or even take over the running of their business if need be.

This also extends to helping franchisees make the move from full-time employment to running their own business. The way the business is structured means franchisees don’t have to leave full employment until their client base has built up sufficiently to provide a main source of income. Many franchisors take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to franchising – but different franchisees need different levels of support.

Training

Training is the bedrock of a franchise company. Some franchises don’t offer any formal training but our franchisees receive two days of intense training, written material for reference and ongoing training, four times a year.

We also carry out field training to demonstrate how the business model can serve different geographical areas. External trainers are bought in to provide expert input on subjects that franchisees tell us they want to learn more about. It’s also vitally important for franchisees to have their say in what they want to learn about.

Adaptability

Claire and I still run our own franchises and this gives us a great insight our needs to adapt. Some franchise operations won’t deviate from their original business model, which leads to opportunities being missed. Extra Help started out as a service for elderly people but the feedback we received was that others were interested. We developed a service which also catered to professionals and mothers and now also offer domestic cleaning. Our business model allows franchisees to let us know what customers are requesting and their feedback will always be listened to.

We’ve built our franchise around firm principles that recognise the importance of things like support, ongoing training and adaptability. I’m proud of the successful, profitable and supportive model we’ve created, thrilled to have created exactly the kind of business I would want to work for and confident we’ll go from strength-to-strength.