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From public sector to franchise owner

As the public sector cuts start getting deeper, more and more Government and local government employees have been transferring their skills to a new profession. One such person is Julia Bradbury, London House franchise owner for Leeds

Summary of Operation

London House International is a financial and commercial investigation franchise. As a London House franchise owner, you will be a banking, legal and insurance consultant and investigator, providing a range of services to banks, finance houses, law firms, insurance companies and the rest of the credit industry. As a commercial investigator, your core business will be gathering information to advise clients on the prevention and recovery of loss caused by fraud and bad debt.

An accountant by trade, Julia Bradbury had spent the last 18 years working in the public sector, most recently at a regional development agency, when news of the Government’s austerity measures and resulting job cuts made her consider a future in the private sector.

“I didn’t see a future in the public sector and I was wary of private sector companies,” explains Julia. “I had always said to myself that if I was made redundant, I would stop being an accountant. When it was announced that the development agency I worked at was going to be one of those to have its funding cut, I knew there was no future for me in the public sector.”

Julia had already decided that she wanted to be her own boss, but did not want to be alone, and discovered that franchises would enable her to realise this goal.

“I had been looking at domiciliary care franchises very seriously, as well as more standard business opportunities such as cost reduction and accountancy ones,” she says. “However, I changed my mind when I discovered London House and was impressed with how long it had been established and it had a very credible leadership. In addition, the investment level was not massive and it would provide me with a regular income, even in the early days.”

Despite having no experience in investigations, Julia discovered that there were many skills – including developing good interpersonal skills and getting departments to cut their budgets – she could put to good use from her days as an accountant.

“I love my London House job as no two days are ever the same and it allows me to use the analytical skills I acquired as an accountant, while leaving out the boring number work,” laughs Julia.These qualities were augmented with what she learned during her two weeks of training at London House’s head office.

“The training was excellent and involved two weeks with London House’s Director of Operations, Brian Hughes,” explains Julia. “My first day was theory-based and by the second day I was serving papers! I even had some bonus training just before I launched my franchise, when Brian needed an extra person to trace a couple of men in Liverpool and Manchester, where I had to ask questions in a backstreet pub. I had no trouble at all – being a woman actually seems to work to my advantage when it comes to delivering papers or asking questions, as people don’t feel as intimidated as if it was a man who turned up on their doorstep.”

For the launch of her business in September, Julia already had nine jobs lined up, including one she received directly as a result of the London House name. She now plans to consolidate on this healthy start by attending business networking sessions, contacting lawyers and getting introduced to firms.“I intend to have reached my target turnover of £4,000 a month by the end of my first year. After that I want to build my business as there is plenty of scope in my territory.”

As it is her first job working from home, Julia set herself boundaries and plans out each working day so she is not distracted by her domestic life.

“Working with London House has been far better than I envisaged and my husband is jealous of my commute,” laughs Julia. “I have a separate office at the back of our house and I usually make sure that I arrive at work at 9am.

“My only worry now is having more work than I can deal with but know that with the help and support of London House’s head office, I won’t have to deal with it on my own.”

Written by Fraser McKay