As the British Franchise Association's (bfa) Franchisee of the Year 2008, Venture Portraits franchise owner Angie Baynes has enjoyed free publicity with media appearances on the TV and radio and has been able to take a trip of a lifetime to Brazil using her prize money.
After building a multi-unit £2 million business in just five years, Venture Portrait franchise owner Angie Baynes scooped the Gold Award and £5,000 cash prize at the bfa's awards ceremony in October. Angie was presented with the award in recognition of her achievements and ability to manage the change from employee to franchise owner. 'It was a great honour to be nominated for this award,' she reflects. 'I did not expect to be selected for the Gold award as the competition was of a very high standard - so when my name was announced on the night I couldn't believe it!
'Winning the award and seeing the publicity in the national press has created a real buzz of excitement with my team and customers. I have featured in local and national newspapers, franchise magazines and have also been interviewed on BBC Breakfast and been involved in several radio interviews - including a show which was broadcast from my studio in York where the whole team got involved. They really enjoyed being radio celebrities for the day!
'Before I became a Venture Portraits franchise owner I worked at my father's Venture franchise in Beverley where I was given the opportunity to work my way up the business. I progressed through every role from reception and telesales to photographer and finally manager. However my success was tainted by the fact that my peers just saw me as the boss's daughter. I wanted to be successful in my own right so discussed with Venture the prospect of taking on a territory of my own. I wanted to continue my career with Venture because I was a qualified portrait photographer and Venture is one of the brands right at the forefront of modern portrait photography.'
Angie launched her York-based franchise in 2003 and opened her second studio in Hull in 2006. In terms of support and training, as Angie had managed her father's business she did not require training, however Venture's support proved invaluable particularly in the initial stages. 'Venture helped me prepare my presentation for the bank,' enthuses Angie. 'They also came to a few bank meetings with me to ensure everything went smoothly.'
Since becoming a franchise owner, Angie has improved her business by changing the way staff vacancies are filled, which has motivated her employees and made them work more effectively. 'When my studio manager left in August 2007 I promoted members of my current team to department head roles. In doing so, I made several people accountable for different areas. The fact I filled vacancies internally boosted staff morale as they now know they have the opportunity to progress their career with Venture.
'I have dedicated a lot of time, money and effort to get my business established. So I decided to spend my prize money on renovating my house and a trip to Brazil. I took a month off and explored Brazil with my sister earlier this year. Brazil was our first choice because my sister is part of a Brazilian dancing troupe - we had a fantastic time visiting beautiful beaches and dancing at a carnival.'
Interview by Jess Sturman