Newfound freedom found with Recognition Express

Franchisee Graham Mitchell talks about the benefits of purchasing an established franchise and how his previous experience as Managing Director of a packaging company has helped increase sales by 60 per cent.

Graham Mitchell hit the ground running with his Recognition Express business venture by investing in an established franchise close to home. The existing South East Scotland Recognition Express franchise had been in operation for 12 years and, while profitable, its owners were looking to retire and were selling the business. Since Graham took over the business in 2005 covering Edinburgh, Fife and central Scotland, he has increased sales by 60 per cent.

'By purchasing an established franchise I have not had to worry about employing and training staff, securing the clientele or finding a location for the premises,' explains Graham. 'After two weeks of comprehensive training at head office and from the previous owners, I was able to walk in, pick up where they left off and build on the solid foundations already in place. The day-to-day running of the business is managed by my four members of staff and this enables me to focus on increasing the sales. At the moment my annual turnover is £300,000 and I hope to increase this to £500,000 over the next couple of years.

Graham's first interest in franchising was encouraged by attending a franchise seminar that highlighted the pitfalls and advantages of franchising with existing franchisees talking about their own personal experiences. 'I was interested in running my own business and wanted to become self-sufficient, but I did not want to take the risks involved with setting up a business by myself,' he reveals. 'I came away from the seminar feeling positive and began my search for an opportunity.

'Recognition Express is a business-to-business franchise that manufactures and supplies corporate and personalised promotional products to businesses. I thought it was ideal: not only would it enable me to work in a sector I had experience with (I had previously held the position of Managing Director at a packaging firm before I was made redundant), but also it was only 17 miles away from my home and already established in the area.

'I would recommend anyone looking to invest in a franchise to research it properly. Before I purchased my franchise I spent six months shadowing and talking to the franchise owners, discussing how the business worked and what to expect in order to decide if it was the right opportunity for me. I also had several interviews with head office to discuss my suitability for the investment, which ensured that I knew and understood how the business worked, what was expected and what was achievable before I signed the franchise agreement.

'The most enjoyable aspect of running my own business is my newfound freedom. If I want to play golf one afternoon I can! It's nice not having to answer to anybody but myself, because I know that I can make up the lost hours later that evening or at a later date.'

Nick Manning, Recognition Express, Guildford
After 20 years in the telecoms industry I decided to quit my job as an Account Manager for Ericsson in order to pursue my ambition of running my own business and working for myself. Before I became a Recognition Express franchisee I did a lot of research and went along to franchise exhibitions to see what sort of opportunities were on offer. I knew I wanted to work within the business-to-business sector so when I saw the Recognition Express stand I was intrigued.

In my previous position I used to give away promotional branded items so I had first hand experience that the Recognition Express concept worked. I decided to visit some Recognition Express franchisees around the country in order to assess if the franchise was the right investment for me. I was impressed by the way the company had successfully established itself and by the number of recommendations.

What I like about being part of the Recognition Express network is the level of support on offer. I have received help and advice from other franchisees and if I ever have a problem all I have to do is call head office and they are more than happy to help and in some instances come to me. I also have regular meetings with the franchisor Nigel Toplis to discuss how I think the business is doing.

One of the benefits of working for myself is having more control over what I do with my time. Admittedly I am working long hours at the moment while I establish the business but that is to be expected - I am able to take time off although at this stage I am trying not to. I am responsible for everything from making cups of tea and running errands to the bank to manufacturing badges and sorting out accounts. My aim once the business is established is to have more time for myself and to be able to focus more time on bringing in business.

I have been with Recognition Express for almost a year now and in that time I am already ahead of my first year targets. In my second year I hope to increase my turnover to £100,000.

Interviews by Jess Sturman

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  • bfa Franchise of the Year 2003
  • Over 28 years' experience and profitability
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  • Year on year growth
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