Enjoy the freedom of being your own boss

Fresh from launching their London House franchises, Julian Leggett and Iwan Morgan reveal how they are changing their lives and lifestyles as they look forward to business success in 2010

Redundant at the age of 61, Julian Leggett faced the discouraging prospect of searching for a new career in the midst of the worst recession since records began. Despite never having operated his own business before, Julian recognised that his best option was to find an opportunity for himself.

"I had been in the army for 24 years and then spent 20 years in property management before being made redundant the first time," says Julian. "My friend owns a cleaning company and hired me as an area manager, however when the recession hit the company was finding it increasingly difficult to get work so I knew I was going to be made redundant again.

"At my age I knew it was going to be hard to find another job, so I began looking into franchising. I came across London House and it looked to me like an achievable goal. With my background I knew it was something I could do."

Due to Julian's inexperience of owning and operating his own business, he recognised the value of the training provided by the franchisor. "The training I received was one-to-one with Brian, one of the London House Directors," he reflects. "Brian knows the business inside out - not only does he provide the training but he also created the operations manual as well. The training programme covers all aspects of the business, from the investigation side to the day-to-day running of the business.

"I have also had excellent support, not only from the London House head office staff but also from other franchise owners. On the day my business launched I received two emails from other franchise owners welcoming me to the company and offering their help or advice if I needed it."

As part of his training programme, Julian created a three-year plan for his London House business, which he launched in November 2009. "My business plan has set out my turnover targets for my first year, which I am very happy and confident about," he reports. "Looking forward I have a strategy in place for earnings growth through to the end of my third year."

In addition to financial targets, Julian also aims to increase his standard of living through owning and operating his business. "At the end of year two I want running my London House business to have made a visible difference to my quality of life," he reveals. "For example my partner and I are renting at the moment and we are looking to purchase the house we are renting.

"I'm already finding it nice that I am dependent on myself for my income and not on other people. I really enjoy the freedom of being my own boss, while safe in the knowledge that there is a strong organisation backing me up."

Interview by Derin Ibrahim

Lifestyle improvement is the number one aim of his London House franchise for Iwan Morgan, who started trading in September 2009. A few months since launching his franchise he is confident he has made the right choice. "Owning and operating my London House business will simply enable me to achieve a better quality of life," reveals Iwan. "One of the great aspects of being your own boss is the flexibility - for example, if you work late one night you can opt to start a little later the next morning."

Prior to joining London House Iwan worked in insurance claims management, but he'd been looking for a suitable franchise for many years. "I like the idea of franchising - you are buying into a business model that works," he continues. "When I came across London House I was immediately impressed by the company, especially with the way they dealt with my initial enquiry. When I visited the head office it became obvious to me that the directors were very experienced and London House came across as a slick organisation."

Although Iwan had experience of running his own business he had never worked in the investigation industry, so he found this part of the training extremely useful. He comments: "I had two weeks of training, which was based at the London House head office. I found the training to be very thorough and there was a lot to take in. In addition I was also provided with very useful in-the-field training. All in all it fully prepared me for launching my business."

As with all newly launched London House franchises, Iwan's Swansea-based operation has benefited from continual support from the head office team as it finds its feet. "The support has been excellent," Iwan reflects. "It's been available via the telephone whenever I've needed it and the help of the head office administration staff has been especially valuable.

"I have also had a lot of support from other London House franchise owners. There's a great team culture at London House and this encourages a lot of communication between the franchise owners - we not only support one another but also bounce ideas around."

Iwan is looking forward to achieving his first year goal and then building his business to more than double by the end of his third year. "I really enjoy running my franchise as it is an interesting business to work in and no two days are ever the same," he says. "It's great knowing that, although I'm my own boss, I am working within a professional organisation. London House has been operating for a long time and so their systems are all set-up, in place and proven."

Interview by Derin Ibrahim

Franchise investment requirement
London House offers two investment level options for aspiring franchise owners. Its Standard package provides a town-sized exclusive territory and can be secured for £10,750, while its Premium package covers a larger, regional territory combining a number of population centres for an investment starting at £19,750. Both packages includes the same level of comprehensive training, ongoing support, full marketing launch programme and access to a Franchise Help Desk, plus introductions to known clients and recommendations on local networking events.

Why credit management services are booming With debt defaults on the increase and set for continued growth during the recession, banks are outsourcing more and more cases of bad debt to specialist companies to establish the facts and trace hidden assets. However, it is not only the major creditors who are suffering - businesses from sole traders to major corporations are finding it increasingly difficult to get repayment on their trade invoices within agreed terms of trade. Increasingly, these businesses are also turning to specialists for assistance with collection of overdue accounts.

With credit risk becoming more of a problem, more and more companies are investing in worthwhile credit checks at the underwriting stage before even considering offering credit. Specialist commercial investigators and credit service providers such as London House, whose services are in demand when the economy is faring well, are busier than ever during the downturn.