Achieve your ambitions with NIC

With guaranteed sales leads and comprehensive training and support, the NIC franchise attracted the attention of budding young entrepreneur Ben Hooper who is aiming to retire by the age of 40

For 24-year-old Ben Hooper, operating an NIC franchise with his father Donald is bringing him closer to his goal of early retirement. 'I am determined to retire at 40,' enthuses Ben. 'The way I see it is if I make the sacrifices now I should be able to earn enough money to relax and enjoy life later!'

Under the sales scheme, NIC have already provided Ben and Donald with £250,000 worth of business within their first year of trading. 'I disliked working on a commission basis because I knew I was working hard for a small chunk of the profit,' explains Ben. 'I wanted to make sales knowing all of the money I made was mine and realised the only way I could make this happen was to become self-employed and run my own business. I mentioned my thoughts to my father who was keen to become involved in the venture.

'After a lot of research we came to an agreement that investing in a franchise was the best step forward, especially considering I did not have any previous experience of running a business. This is because franchising increases your chances of success as you have access to a tried and tested business model, established brand name and support package.

'Commercial cleaning franchise NIC appealed because it operates in a relatively recession-proof industry, has a guaranteed sales lead package* and comprehensive support and training. The fact that it was a management investment opportunity whereby we would manage the contracts and the cleaners instead of doing the cleaning ourselves was also attractive. When we met the NIC head office team in person they were very friendly, helpful and answered all of our questions.' Ben and Donald launched their Manchester-based franchise in December 2008 and initially invested £100,000. At present, they have 24 cleaners on the books and operate the business from two offices within their territory. Ben takes the role of Operations Director, meeting clients and assessing the quality of the cleaning, while Donald takes care of the administration side of the business.

'We were put on a training course which covered everything, from how to manage the business to cleaning itself and chemical usage. The rest was on-the-job training. The support has been brilliant. The NIC finance department at head office takes care of invoicing the customers, chasing payments and paying the cleaners. This enables me to focus on building up the business. Our aim is to increase business by 20 per cent year on year.

'The best thing about being your own boss is being able to make your own schedule - so if I want to work later one day and then take a day off mid-week I can. Running the business does take up a lot of my time but being able to work flexible hours means I am still able to see my friends and family on a regular basis.'

Interview by Jess Sturman