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Father and son expand Look Local franchise

Look Local franchise owners Ray Bessell and his son Greg have been able to expand their business after transferring to the new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Accountancy system which was launched by the advertising directory network last summer.

Ray joined Look Local in 2007 when he bought the Alcester territory, since then he and his son Greg have taken on an additional territory in Bromsgrove, with Greg now taking charge and managing the day-to-day running of the business.

"I decided to invest in Look Local not long after my 50th birthday," explained Ray. "It suddenly dawned on me that if I continued working in corporate logistics, I would have spent my entire life working for somebody else.

"I was keen to be my own boss and got talking to my friend Clive Wheeldon who is a director at Look Local. He suggested the franchise opportunity and I was immediately impressed. I liked the idea of a low-cost business with minimal overheads and the backing of an established brand so decided to invest.

"With Look Local head office taking care of the invoicing and some of the administration through the new CRM system, Greg and I were able to concentrate on starting up local directories for both the Redditch and Droitwich areas last summer we now feel we have the time to be able to manage four local directories. By doing this, we anticipate doubling our current turnover of £60,000.

"We think the new support system is great - it has definitely made our lives easier. Before we had to create our own database using software like Excel. Now, with the new centralised database, once all of the information is transferred across there is a sense of uniformity as all of the franchise owners record their clients' data in the same way.

"Business is going really well at the moment and we think this is because the recession has led a lot of local traders to reduce their advertising expense. Therefore, they cannot justify the cost of advertising in a glossy publication. Instead, more companies are coming to us, because we are more cost effective and have a similar circulation figure."

The CRM and Accountancy system forms just one part of even better Look Local franchise package, which also includes a variety of tools to help franchise owners run their businesses effectively. This has enabled Look Local franchise owners to have more time to concentrate on building up their businesses and maintaining relationships with their clients.

The franchise package also includes comprehensive training, ongoing support, a copy of the operations manual and their own personal login area on the Look Local website.

Look Local Managing Director Ray Slater said: "The CRM System was created in response to our franchise network's request for help in finding a way to minimise the burden of administration and accounting. The system holds and monitors all of the franchise owners' customer data allowing easy access to manage their sales activity and campaigns. This, together with an invoicing and integrated accounting package, relieves the individual franchise owner from creating and recording sales invoices, and automatically updates the book-keeping."