It Really is Phenomenal

Most franchisees are recouping their investment in less than three months. Franchise Recruitment Manager Cat Foulkes explains.

When Sue Botterill set up a community magazine serving her local neighbourhood in 2002, she never dreamed that just three years later more than 600 people would have used her formula to set up their own local magazines in towns and villages across the UK. They have, and Sue's award winning programme has transformed the lives of families in every corner of the country.

However, as the magazine network expanded it became clear that one critical dimension was missing and Sue and her team pulled in experts from across the world to help provide it. Now, her web-based franchise is among the fastest growing businesses in the UK with 65 franchisees coming on board already this year.

The business is run by Sue's husband, Managing Director Nigel Botterill, and his team of 15 staff provide dedicated training and support to the nationwide network. 'We're geared up to help every one of our franchisees achieve success,' he says. 'So far most of our site owners are recouping their investment in less than three months.'

Adds Huddersfield franchisee Fiona Crosland: 'It's a tremendous business. Think of it as a 21st century cross between the parish magazine and Yellow Pages! Businesses love it because it's such good value and we are able to measurably drive more customers to them - and residents in the town realise that the quality and depth of information available to them is second to none. There's simply nothing else out there like this - and with usage of the internet growing so fast it's great to be in there building my business in such an expanding market.'

Former prison officer Lee Morris, who is now franchisee for Redditch in Worcestershire, explains: 'For me, the big attraction is the ability to build a serious business on my terms. I can choose my hours and work from home. The contacts and relationships I am building with my customers - who are all based in my local area - are really important to me. I've got a much more balanced life now than ever before - and I'm earning more as well.'

Sylvia Lillis, franchisee for Ealing, West London, says: 'The support I get is fantastic. Whenever I've needed help the team at HQ have been there straight away.'

Basildon franchisee Leslie Gawn has very clear goals. 'I joined The Best Of to fulfil my dream of being able to work from home with my wife Rosemarie, get out and about, and take an active role in supporting the local community,' he explains. 'I'm delighted with the progress so far - this is so much more than just a mere business opportunity.'

Kiren Powell, who has invested in three franchise areas in Buckinghamshire, agrees: 'I have been involved in franchises in the past where I have felt that I have not been in control of my business. Things are so different with The Best Of. I am totally in control of my business and am also able to spend more time with my family. I've recruited a small team and we're building something very special here that benefits local businesses and the local community as well as being very profitable.'

It's certainly true that local businesses are rapidly catching on to the benefits of and this makes getting new customers much easier. 'I genuinely look forward to the phone ringing as it is always good news,' says Carole Aldred, franchisee for Bolton. 'The support from the guys at the office has always been excellent and this really is a 'win-win' business for me and my customers.'

Guildford franchisee Ginetta George has big plans. 'The truth is, over 90 per cent of people I approach become customers,' she reveals. 'It really is an extremely easy thing to sell and I've set my targets very high. Customers are getting real value which I think is key and the support from the team at Head Office is really great too.'

In Barnet, franchisee David Kallin has had some interesting conversations with customers. 'Last week, I had a customer tell me that my product offers ten times the value for less than half the price of my competitors,' he reports. 'It's that sort of feedback that made me fully realise the huge opportunity here. It really is phenomenal.'

Technical Director Dave Carruthers is keen to provide reassurance for non-technophiles: 'Just in case you're worried about all the technology, although this is a web-based business you don't need any technical knowledge at all. Everything has been designed so that as long as you can use e-mail, and type a letter in Microsoft Word you can run and operate the site.'

Sue Harrison, franchisee for Beverley, East Yorkshire, agrees: 'I was amazed at how easy it was for me to design really great 'webverts' for my customers. All I do is fill in a form and the pages just appear on the internet.'