Make a fresh start with franchising/2

There is rarely a good time to be made redundant, however when you are in your 50s it can seem even worse. MOLLY MAID Franchise Owners reveal how being made redundant created the opportunity for a fresh start.

Almost five years on since launching their MOLLY MAID franchise, business partners Denise Walker and Lorna James have had no regrets about becoming self-employed. The ex-colleagues would never have considered setting up their own business if they had not been facing redundancy.

Lorna explains: "We were both working for a health clinic, where we had worked together for over 15 years. We were given over 12 months' warning that we were to be made redundant. Denise and I were in our early 50s and we both thought that it would be strange starting again for a new company.

"It was while we were discussing our choices that we decided to start our own business. Initially we wanted to set-up a new business from scratch, however at our ages we didn't want to start from the bottom and have to build up a brand reputation. Additionally, we wanted to have the opportunity to sell our business and make a profit for our retirements. These reasons meant that the franchising idea quickly came in as it fitted perfectly with our plans."

Denise and Lorna launched their Berwick-based franchise in January 2005 and have experienced year on year growth. Despite the recession their business has still grown by four per cent in the last year and they are on target to reach their turnover target of £280,000. "We are happy with the way the past year has gone," reveals Denise. "We have continued to do well because we have had the right attitude and kept focused on making the business successful. We have retained many of our customers and two customers who went to different companies earlier in the year that were cheaper came back to us because we provide a better quality of service."

Denise and Lorna understand the fear that many people have when they are made redundant, however they advise that it could provide the perfect opportunity for a fresh start. "People in their 50s think that being made redundant is the end of the world but it could provide the chance for them to change their lives for the better," explains Denise. "You will work harder as a Franchise Owner than as an employee but the rewards are your own. For us starting our own business has been the best thing that we have done, even our old boss has told us it is the best decision we have made."

For those who have been made redundant and are looking at franchising Denise advises: "Make sure that you have done your sums to get through the first year without earning much money. I would 100 per cent choose franchising over setting up a new business as it ensures you are streets ahead. We achieved in one year with MOLLY MAID what would have taken two to three years if we didn't have the support and back up of the support office and a recognised brand. The great thing about franchising is that you get the support of people who know what they are doing and you are provided with a tried and tested method which, if you follow, will work."

Derin Ibrahim reports