Keith continues a career of service with London House

For Keith Palmer, the transition from forces to franchising has been something of a natural progression as he's moved from special forces to specialist investigations.

Currently the London House franchise owner for Cleveland along with his business partner Chris Woodward (who'll soon be his father-in-law as well), Keith Palmer has successfully transferred several skills from his military background to building a business that enjoyed a £12,000 turnover in March and is well on its way to meeting the pair's target of turning over £100,000 a year.

"Soldiers face pressures every day," says former Marine Keith. "It's a tough, adrenaline-pumping job that demands discipline to manage the highs as well as the lows - and that's exactly what franchise ownership requires."

Keith is no stranger to hard work and professional discipline. He spent 2 and a half years with the Royal Marines 42nd Commando Division before embarking on an illustrious nine-year spell with the elite Special Boat Services (SBS) - and holds the living record for 'black covers', having successfully completed 17 undercover missions.

Leaving the military, Keith worked on special projects for AMEC and it was at this point he was introduced to the work of London House, the commercial and financial investigations company. He found the work an ideal outlet for the skills he'd acquired, and took the opportunity to become a franchise owner with enthusiasm.

"When the business came up for sale I teamed up with my fiancée's father and we accepted the challenge," reflects Keith. "The thought of becoming my own boss and being able to hit the ground running with an established business was very appealing."

London House provides a wide range of services to a diverse variety of clients - from debt recovery and fraud investigations to witness statements and pre-employment drugs/alcohol screening. Franchise owners complete a two-week training course (including a must-pass exam) to familiarise themselves with the industry. Although no stranger to rigorous training programmes, Keith was impressed by the experience.

"The company's level of expertise is unsurpassed," he says. "Even though I had two years' experience working with London House before I started training, my knowledge increased by some 40 per cent in those two weeks."`

London House franchise owners also receive ongoing support from a head office. "The network really works as a team and there's a genuine sense of unity, which is fantastic," continues Keith. "We're also good friends, so we work effectively as a unit, always willing to share advice and experience to help."

Keith is a perfect example of how franchise ownership can suit someone with a military background.

"It's a tremendous opportunity," he concludes. "It's hard work but it's also hugely enjoyable. It's not nine to five and no day is ever the same. You can have an overall journey plan for the business, but you can never predict what can happen on a daily basis. And that's what makes it so rewarding."

Reported by Eric Secker