The Franchise that's booming in the recession

With the target of building up their business to a £100,000 turnover, franchise partners Keith Palmer and his father-in-law to be Chris Woodward are enjoying a better work/life balance

Building a family business is the aim for new London House franchise owners Keith Palmer and his father-in-law to be Chris Woodward. Determined to secure a comfortable lifestyle for their respective families, Keith and Chris intend to develop their business by providing a professional quality service for their existing and new clients.

"We took over the London House franchise in July," reflects Keith (pictured below, L, with Chris). "I am a close friend and former employee of the previous franchise owners, so when the business came up for sale we decided to take on the challenge and purchase the business as we could see that the concept had great growth potential."

Keith's varied career background includes being a Captain in the S.B.S. completing 17 successful operations behind enemy lines and a cost controller and commercial manager in private sector businesses, while Chris has 30 years' experience working as a Senior Purchasing Manager responsible in his time for managing budgets in excess of £1 million per month. "When the previous owner decided to sell the business, with our skills complementing each other the thought of becoming our own bosses and being able to hit the ground running with an established business was very appealing," Keith explains.

London House is a commercial and financial investigations company which provides a wide range of services to banks, law firms, other blue chip organisations and private individuals. Services include debt recovery, fraud investigation, witness statements and pre-employment screening for drugs and alcohol. London House started franchising its operations in 1995 and has recruited 45 franchise owners nationwide, whose role is to collate information requested by their clients and report their findings.

All London House franchise owners are required to complete a comprehensive two-week initial training course and pass an exam to show they understand the rules and regulations within the industry. Franchise owners are issued with an operations manual and are supported on an ongoing basis by the head office. "Support is always available," continues Keith. "The London House network works as a team and we all help each other out, so there is a real sense of unity, which is fantastic!"

In order to build the business Chris and Keith are spending most of their time marketing their services within their area. Being part of London House's established brand with national account clients such as Lloyds TSB and Abbey National has definitely helped to promote their services.

"Since becoming London House franchise owners, our work/life balance and quality of life has improved," affirms Chris. "We really enjoy being our own bosses, because we know that the harder we work now the bigger the returns will be later. Our aim is to generate a large enough income that we can bring other family members on board such as my son Philip and wife Lynne, and so that Keith and my daughter Melissa can have the wedding of their dreams in Kenya next year."

Reported by Jess Sturman


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.


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 £9,500, while its Premium package covers a larger, regional territory combining a number of population centres for an investment starting at £17,500.

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.


1 person is declared bankrupt or insolvent in the UK every 5 mins

UK debt grows by £1m every 8 mins!

London house international's Network of Offices

Brighton, Crawley & Redhill District
Bristol & Bath
Bromley & Croydon
Central & West London
Chelmsford, & Southend District
Exeter & Torquay
Harrow & North West London
Ipswich & Colchester
Maidstone & North Kent
Milton Keynes
Nottingham & Lincoln
Preston, Blackburn & Fylde
Southampton & Portsmouth
St Helens, Wigan & Warrington
Surrey & North Sussex
Tonbridge & Canterbury
Wolverhampton & Shropshire

Opportunities available everywhere due to new territories and re-sale businesses
Amount of interest paid in the UK every day: £263 million