Women in Franchising: Double the trouble
For busy mothers franchising offers the flexibility to fit a business around home life. Rachel Spaul interviews new mother and franchisee Sarah Fallon
It takes a special sort of person to leave behind the security of employment and enter the unknown as a business owner - dedication, commitment, foresight and determination are just some of the requirements. Sarah Fallon from Swindon had all of these and joined Medics on the Move in January, but even she wasn't prepared for what happened next.
Just two weeks into the training and Sarah discovered she was expecting not one baby, but two! 'The news came as quite a shock,' admits Sarah, a former Account Manager. 'I didn't tell the company directors until I'd reached 12 weeks so I could prove that nothing had changed, as they needed their first franchisee to be 100 per cent committed to the business.'
Medics on the Move Directors Carole Stubbs and Vickie Knighton were understandably worried for Sarah but, as hands-on franchisors, met with her to ascertain what support she wanted. 'At the very beginning we said we were looking forward to her enjoying the flexibility of having her own business to manage maternity appointments,' comments Carole. 'Both Vickie and I have had to manage pregnancy and motherhood whilst working for corporates in the past, which is certainly less flexible than managing your own time. As working mums, we both knew the challenges Sarah would face and are committed to continuing to support her.'
Sarah's unwavering determination to make her business a success helped her through the times in her pregnancy when she was feeling the worst and her foresight enabled her to keep the business ticking over during maternity leave. 'I started making money within my first few weeks of training and had developed good relationships with clients, so when I went on maternity leave earlier this year I still had a residual income,' she confirms.
Medics on the Move supported Sarah throughout her pregnancy, dealing with enquiries and calling her regularly to plan how to take the business forward. 'They've been great,' Sarah praises.
'They were there when I needed them but were not on my back all the time.'
Sarah met the Medics on the Move founders at a networking event. 'They were just starting to franchise at that time,' Sarah recalls. 'We got chatting and it seemed like a straightforward and flexible business opportunity without the legwork of setting up a new business. As a new franchise I really only had my instincts to go on but I did have an accountant, business consultant and solicitor, with a specialist franchise department, look over the agreement.'
Sarah was able to fund the business with her own money and a small bank loan, as the franchise required a relatively small initial investment at that time. Having only scratched the surface of her large territory covering Wiltshire and Swindon, Sarah is focused on developing her business. As a Medics on the Move franchisee she helps busy professionals to relocate by finding properties to rent or buy. Husband Matt has recently joined the business full-time having seen the potential to grow the business substantially. 'I have existing customers that have been with me from the beginning,' Sarah adds. 'By the end of this year we're aiming to have established key relationships with corporate clients and will be looking to employ an assistant.'
As a Medics on the Move franchisee Sarah has the flexibility of being able to care for her two children during the day whilst dealing with enquiries and booking property viewings for evenings and weekends. 'I can still run the business but don't feel I'm missing out on anything with the children,' Sarah explains. 'I enjoy the flexibility of the business and the variety that each day brings.'
Carole adds: 'Sarah has coped amazingly well and continued to successfully run her business throughout the pregnancy and immediately after returning home. She has been professional throughout and her energy levels and commitment to her business and the Medics on the Move brand has been outstanding. We could not have asked for any more.
'It was Sarah's professionalism, drive and enthusiasm, customer service experience and juggling skills that attracted us when we first met. These have all stood her in good stead for managing a business and motherhood.'