Huge market potential

Since becoming a Wiltshire Farm Foods franchise owner last year, Sandra Hyslop has improved her work/life balance and increased the existing territory's turnover by 50 per cent

While Sandra Hyslop was keen to become her own boss, she was unable to think of an original business concept so decided to invest in a franchise instead. "Becoming a franchise owner has turned out better," explains Sandra. "This is because not only am I my own boss, but also I am able to build my own business using an established brand name and business model."

With a background in food manufacturing, Sandra turned her attention to food-related franchises so that she could make use of, and build on, her existing skills. Frozen ready meal delivery franchise Wiltshire Farm Foods fit the bill. "I was impressed by its huge market potential," she relates. "The elderly are increasingly living out their retirement at home and a service like this makes their lives easier. The fact I would be providing an essential product also appealed, as the business would be able to stand its ground in a recession.

"When I looked on the Wiltshire Farm Foods website, I noticed an advert for the Ayrshire territory. I grew up in Ayrshire and was looking to move back that way to be closer to my family, so the territory coming on the market could not have happened at a better time. The thought of taking over an existing territory also appealed, as I would be able to hit the ground running."

After completing the initial in-depth training course, Sandra took over her franchise in June 2008. "When I took over the Ayrshire territory, a member of head office came to stay for a week to help ease me into the Wiltshire Farm Foods business," she reports. "On top of this, all franchise owners have their own copy of the operations manual to refer to and can discuss any problems or new ideas with other franchise owners at the quarterly regional meetings.

"In my first year I have successfully increased my turnover by 50 per cent and continue to trade ahead of target. I rent an industrial unit with a cold store freezer onsite and four vans, which together make on average 400 deliveries a week across my territory.

"I have a hands-on role within the business, and do a bit of everything, from making the deliveries and sorting out the paperwork to sweeping up and marketing the business. I really enjoy running my own business and my work/life balance has definitely improved!"

Reported by: Jess Sturman