Franchisee Diary: Stuart Calvert, Southampton

For five years I worked for Northwood as a negotiator and as an office manager and I really got to know the business inside out. Then, in 2006 a Northwood franchise came up for sale in my hometown of Southampton. I saw this as a great opportunity - I knew how good the Northwood concept was and knew the benefits of the business, so I decided to invest in the franchise myself.

A number of things attracted me to the franchise, particularly the branding which is superb - it really stands out. The shops are very well designed and look the business and the marketing materials send out a very strong professional message. I also knew how successful Northwood's 'guaranteed rental scheme' for landlords is - it's a great concept and is very attractive to potential new business.

The training Northwood provide is second to none and is based over six weeks - it sets you up for a good start to your business. You don't need any prior experience in the industry as the training covers everything you'll need to know. However, I'd say that you need to be enthusiastic, focused and to be able to manage a team.

I bought an existing business but for a new franchisee, Northwood help with finding the right location for your premises, researching the area and drawing up marketing and budget plans. They know how to maximise your business potential. One of the benefits of Northwood is the amount of customer referrals you can receive. There's a lot of potential to expand and my business has grown quite quickly. It can be hard work but it's extremely rewarding knowing that you are building a successful business.