We Need to Talk About Franchising. It’s a Game Changer

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I hope many of you reading this short article will keep an open mind, absorb what you read, take it in, and take decisive steps, whatever that looks like. As I see it, you and I are probably no different. The only difference I made was by taking action. Have a read of my personal story below to find out how.

Me and You Are No Different, I Just Took Action

My own working life started at a young age, from adulthood. It is strange how things come about, but I was involved in one of the early-stage UK franchises in the optical world called Vision Express. This was to be only a small handful of stores in the UK. A Google check now shows they are at 550, so it shows how long ago it was!

Even at such an early age, I could see how the owners were following a system, having paid a fee to be shown how to do so, and there was lots of centralised activity to help them, ‘done for you’ was a phrase I can recall being exchanged on the phone (and fax in those days!) I enjoyed my time there, was doing well, and had a great boss called Mark who helped me rise through the ranks, but being young, I always had ideas way above my station!

Travelling To Australia Was an Eye Opener

Australia came calling, and a seven-month stint exploring this amazing place really opened my eyes to lots and lots of franchises. In fact, I would soon learn that it was more acceptable to open a business that was a franchise down under compared to the UK! But why was this? It was simply a more developed market for franchising.

I could see opportunity everywhere, and to me, even back then, Australia seemed like it was 15-20 years behind the UK. I saw a shack-style coffee kiosk drive-through. It turns out, of course, that this was/is a franchise, ‘Muzz Buzz,’ for you Australians reading this. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. This could catch on in the UK!

Now, back in the UK, after one of the best experiences of my life, it turns out Starbucks are about to trial a two-site, then 15-site drive-thru coffee kiosk in the UK, one of the first being in Wales; I was right, it seemed. Today, you will see how successful that format has been; many of them are franchises, of course!

Back To The Day Job!

I went back into Optics in the UK, and I thought I better get some experience in an independent practice so I have the all-round skills in business, or so I thought! Off I went whilst also studying to become an Optician. I studied for nine hours in one day of lectures, worked full-time, and travelled four hours per day to and from my place of work. I then qualified in 2002, purchased the Practice I had been working in, and opened another, but boy, this was tough!

There was no head office to help me with systems or operations; all trial and error, risky investments that mostly did not pay, high risk, low rewards, working during the day to get the client-facing jobs done, and admin at night. This was tougher than I thought, but we muddled through it and got quite successful at it, successful enough to be asked by other practice owners to help them. They were, after all, clinicians, not business people, so the next journey in my business life was to help others copy what I’ve done.

This Was My Eureka Moment!

Finally, the moment came to me: I’m now helping others do what I do by training them on what I’ve done to make my Practice a success. Isn’t that a franchise? But…we could not call it a franchise because these groups of Opticians, then later Dentists and Vets, were fiercely independent! It’s time to get clued up about franchising!

A chance phone call to a franchising specialist (my now business partner), I was naïve enough to believe I could turn opportunities into a franchise opportunity; after all, I thought I had just done so with over 100+ Practices, “well not so fast” Andy the franchise expert would go on to say, “let’s discuss how to do it properly and for the long-term”.

Andy spoke. I was just in awe of what he was telling me, taking it in like a sponge. Now, this guy really knows his stuff, and I need to get to know this person way better. Long story short, it was my absolute privilege to join him in his franchise consultancy business as a Franchisee of Lime Licensing Group.

I Became a Franchisee, Almost by Chance

There is an inherent risk of franchising, albeit relatively low for the reward; I’d need to invest in the Franchisor’s time to be trained, learn how things are done with a library of documents, but above all, take all the valuable parts that we knew worked, now this was very different to my former life of investing first, hoping for a great outcome but rarely achieving it, but I was all in.

Whether by luck or judgement, a very quick return on investment followed, ooh, this is good I thought back then, nothing like I had ever experienced before, just imagine if I were to do this time and time again, and I did! This can be franchising for you.

A few years quickly passed, and when I was offered the opportunity to become an equity partner, I jumped at the chance; I can now transition from Franchisee to Franchisor.

Next Step…From Franchisee to Franchisor

Now, this changes things; not only do I need to carry on with the day job, but the important role of a Franchisor with franchisee support just must happen.

We were growing very nicely already, thanks to Andy and his solid operational excellence, but it was time to ramp it up a little. Could I do just like I had done before and grow the business, purely by helping others as we had all done before, offering our business as a franchise opportunity to more people just like us, so we did, and we are just about to appoint our 11th Regional Director, looking after other businesses to either become first-time Franchisors or helping them build out even further by finding more suitable franchisees for them, working with several dozen companies like this as I write.

Domestic to International, Franchising Has Very Little Barriers

Who knows what the next steps are for us? We’ve certainly got an eye on overseas expansion, with sights already on other developed countries in franchising, Australia for sure, but also the US, Canada, EU, and many more…

Why I am telling you all of this, just to gloat?

Far from it! I see it that people buy from people first and foremost, and everyone loves a good story; I’m telling you mine to let you know how my life transitioned from a lonely business owner to being part of and now co-owing the largest franchising consultancy firm in the UK, we are growing very nicely year on year and with our International plans strive to continue to do so, but what makes the difference?

My business partner will probably say it is partly me, but it is thanks to him creating the right foundation in the first place as the Franchisor and then having the right team as franchisees. We could not have done any of it without the right calibre of people; we owe lots to our team!

And then, of course, it is thanks to franchising in general! The franchise opportunity I took by being a franchisee, growing the business as a franchisee opportunity, progressing to be the Franchisor, and yet…we are all still learning, you do learn something every single day, and that’s what I love about the franchising sector!

I’d love to tell you more about franchising and how it can help you too, just like it did for me, perhaps you’ve read this article and some of it has resonated with you? Reach out and let’s chew the fat on it franchising together, you can be sure that you will be amongst the most amazing community in franchising, and I am happy to show you how!

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