Franchisee diary: Steve Hogan and Linda Popplewell, Aylesbury

Our reasons for choosing to invest in the Platinum Property Partners (PPP) franchise are threefold.

The first is trust. We were taking a large gamble. In such circumstances it is entirely reasonable to wonder whether the person you are talking to is a complete charlatan - a slick conman. In looking at PPP we were struck by the fact that people who had gone through the process were a) successful, b) happy to share their experiences with newcomers to the business, and c) formed an active support network where people - however experienced they might be - could always learn from someone else. The presence of so many people from diverse walks of life gave us confidence that this was not a one-man band operation that would just disappear once we had handed over the money.

The seond reason is cost. Free education is usually painful. Be prepared to pay for quality advice and support. It will pay dividends. When we first looked at the costs of the programme they appeared to be expensive and we wondered whether they would represent good value. However, we then did some rough calculations on the number of properties that we would need to invest in to deliver financial independence and what the risks were to our capital in making such a commitment. Compared to the size of this property portfolio and associated risks, the cost of education and ongoing support was very small and therefore actually represented very good value.

The third reason is knowledge. As property investor novices, it was difficult for us to fully appreciate the diversity and depth of knowledge of someone like Steve Bolton. However, we were very impressed by Steve's ability to explain a variety of investment strategies and opportunities in a manner that we could understand and that made financial sense based upon our own business experience.

By the end of our initial two-day intensive mentoring we were sale agreed on two properties, we were sale agreed on a third the following day, and two days after that we'd also acquired two overseas properties in Prague that were only available to us as clients of PPP. This gave us a combined total of over £1 million worth of investment property in only five days! Needless to say, we're very excited by our progress to date and looking forward to expanding and diversifying our portfolio to include more international investments and highly profitable UK ones, happy in the knowledge that we have the best possible team supporting us.