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‘Exhibitions led to our success’

Paul Bentley, FASTSIGNS

Paul Bentley (pictured), 42, set up FASTSIGNS Hammersmith in 2004 and employs a team of four.

Originally from South Africa, he moved to the UK at 25 to pursue a career in publishing. Specialising in legal publications, Paul spent 10 years working in international business publishing, employed first by a UK company and then by a US firm. He worked his way up to the role of Publisher before deciding that he’d had enough of working for other people and wanted to do his own thing.

Paul takes up his story: “I was looking for something that wasn’t brand new. I thought setting up a business from scratch in London could be risky so I started to look at franchising. I investigated a wide range of franchises including retail and food outlet franchises, but I knew I wanted a job that allowed me some freedom to get out and about.”

Paul visited The British & International Franchise Exhibition at Olympia and met FASTSIGNS, who impressed him immediately.

“I liked the idea of using my hands as well as my head, and I thought FASTSIGNS had a very professional presence,” he says. “I also think they have a great business model and you can make a decent living. Above all they are honourable and fair.

“I’m happy and make a comfortable living. I relied very much on the help of FASTSIGNS in the beginning but I now feel that I make a significant contribution to the network, which gives me a great sense of achievement.”

Ann Whaley, Flexicare

Ann Whaley owns the Flexicare franchise in West Yorkshire. She worked in the private sector for almost 30 years before completing a psychology degree, followed by a year working in the NHS. She then decided to look into becoming self-employed.

“I became increasingly concerned with the effects of poor quality care on the physical and psychological wellbeing of the elderly and disabled,” explains Ann. “This led to my decision to start a business that would provide quality care services to people in their own home, that was sensitive to people’s own needs and preferences.”

As part of her research, Ann visited The National Franchise Exhibition to look at relevant franchises in the sector and met Flexicare.

“I sought out a franchise that was truly client-centric and who shared my love and passion of caring for others,” she continues.

“I found such a franchise in Flexicare. Not only do they share the same heart and soul approach to care as I, they have a wealth of experience in the care sector that is an invaluable resource to all their franchise owners.

Now that she has found her perfect business opportunity, Ann reveals: “I plan to take on further territories as my business expands, and to establish a voluntary enterprise aimed at alleviating loneliness among some of the most vulnerable groups in society.”

Both Flexicare and FASTSIGNS will be exhibiting at The National Franchise Exhibition on February 24 and 25, and The British & International Franchise Exhibition on March 16 and 17.