A view on being a deaf franchisee by Adrian Simpson

First of all, you need to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, in particular the former, as it will be crucial in determining the kind of work you can realistically hope to do. Secondly, you should think about the skills & competencies you have acquired in past and present employment, including those you have gained through formal education.

Thirdly, and this must not be underestimated, there is a substantial sales and marketing element inherent to owning a franchise. You must be honest with yourself and accept that you will need help in this matter - you will deal with potential customers who will take you at face value and often make a judgement about you within the first few minutes of meeting.

For many people, time is money, and if they perceive any complications or difficulties as a result of their encounter with you, chances are that they will go to someone else who may be more expensive but less complicated. This is why I strongly recommend you factor a hearing person into your business plan to handle telephone calls, sales appointments, networking events and other communication aspects of the job, no matter what degree of deafness you have. Access to Work can help in this respect and your franchisor should be able to help with marketing strategies such as recommending telesales agencies.

Once you have committed yourself you may be pleasantly surprised by the positive attitude of fellow business people you meet. I have been accepted by the local business community and find people are prepared to make adjustments to meet my needs. This of course is a two-way arrangement and I have to be prepared to compromise as well.

It is the communication aspect of owning a franchise that uniquely sets you aside from a hearing person and this will have a considerable impact on your costs. It also has a bearing on which franchisor you choose - the research phase is critical. I chose Recognition Express as I felt that they offered a greater amount of back-up from head office than other franchisors. In addition they saw my potential rather than focusing on my deafness and its perceived problems. Undoubtedly there are other franchises that will suit your skills and preferences - just be prepared to persuade the franchisor(s) that you have something to offer.

Good luck!