From redundancy to franchise owner

In a perfect world nobody would have to face the pain of redundancy. Yet for those that have, and will do in the future, this unwanted event could be the key that unlocks the door to a lucrative future as a franchise owner. The Franchise Magazine looks at some of the men and women who have made the very best of an unwanted situation.

The financial crisis that gripped the UK, and indeed the rest of the developed world, in 2008 and the years that followed is an event too fresh in the mind to easily forget and will be one that is referenced for many a year yet to come. For some, the impact of those recent times still lingers, yet the words coming today from prominent figures in politics and the financial sector is that nations like ours are witnessing a return to prosperity and growth.

These are by no means hollow quotes; activity in many a sector or industry has returned, or is on course to return, to pre-recession levels. Despite this, the experiences suffered at the tail end of the last decade mean that businesses are aware of the need to keep costs to a minimum and to react quickly to any downturns their industry may go through. This means that, sadly, redundancy is a word we still hear far too often.

The actual experience of being made redundant will always be a painful one. However, it is not a cliché to say that often when one door closes, another opens. In a number of cases that latter door belongs to franchising.

Duncan Chandler, today an Ovenclean franchise owner, was one such individual to discover the above cliché to be true. Duncan had the unenviable misfortune of being made redundant not once but twice from his role as a senior manager for a lending company. “At the time, I found myself completely losing any faith in the idea that employment meant security,” he says. “It was at that point that I made the decision to invest in the right business opportunity and become self-employed; and it was the best decision I could have made.”

ChipsAway franchise owner, Brian Palmer, was earning a healthy living as an IT Manager, prior to being made redundant. Although at the time the news was hard to take, particularly as this had been his career for the better part of 18 years, Brian also found it to be a blessing in disguise.

“I wanted a career that was going to provide me with more security,” Brian explains. “I didn’t feel I had the know-how to set up my own business; therefore my intention was to buy into a business with security and I felt franchising offered just that.”

Terry Jeffery and Pauline Doherty share with each other not only the fact that they were both made redundant from previous jobs, but that today they are both proud Cartridge World franchise owners, and have been for over a decade. Terry is the owner of the Gloucester and Cheltenham store and Pauline is the owner of the Meadow Lane and Mansfield branch.

There are also those who seize the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy, with the intention of dramatically altering their own career paths, hopefully for the better. One man who adopted this approach was Ian Stringer, franchise owner of Merry Maids Bromley and Orpington. A former banker specialising in corporate actions for almost 20 years, Ian happily accepted redundancy in May 2002. “I didn’t feel that my skills and capabilities were being recognised or valued appropriately, therefore redundancy presented me with the opportunity to start afresh,” he states. Today, Ian happily sits atop the Merry Maids league table for weekly and monthly sales.

“No matter how hard you work as an employee, if times get hard for the company you work for, the threat of redundancy will always be looming,” Duncan continues, when asked about the biggest positives of being a franchise owner. “I have many friends and customers who have to regularly reapply for their jobs on a yearly basis, and this is incredibly stressful. For me, however, life is infinitely less stressful now that I have more control and flexibility over my career.

“It is a world away from being a small cog in a large organisation. Whereas previously I found myself regularly demoralised or concerned as to where the axe might fall next, today I have the security I always wanted and you can’t put a price on that in today’s economic climate. My future is very much in my own hands and not many people can say that.”

Security, independence and job satisfaction are the key points that ChipsAway franchise owner, Andy Cornell, highlights as being the biggest positives about becoming his own boss. “The ability to run your own business and to build it up according to your own ambitions is one too good to turn down,” he says. “Furthermore, the support that you receive from the franchisor in the way of leads, national accounts and overall ongoing assistance is of huge significance.”

Being in charge of ones own destiny certainly seems to be what appeals to most franchise owners, but there are many different benefits, some that can be unique to certain individuals.

“What is arguably most important for me personally,” Terry goes on to state, “is that, by owning my own business, it gives me a valuable asset to sell when I decide to eventually retire. That is something you certainly don’t get as an employee.”

The aforementioned case studies certainly make for inspiring reading; however, before everybody starts contemplating requesting being made redundant by their workplaces, it is important to remember that owning a franchise isn’t for everybody. It requires a great deal of prior research, commitment and willingness to follow a proven business model.

However, should franchising be right for you this could just be the start of a long, enjoyable journey. “Only through franchising will you be offered the opportunity to not only run your own business, but also be able to call upon the backing of a knowledgeable, professional support structure,” Ian concludes. “Should you be as fortunate as I have been, what you will come out of the experience with is a career with a brand that meets all your own needs, provides a constant challenge and allows you to really enjoy work.”