COVID-19, the disease caused by the Coronavirus, has been dominating the media since the beginning of 2020. The number of cases is rising daily and analysts are predicting that ‘many thousands’ in the UK will contract the disease. This will undoubtedly have a profound effect on businesses, and the franchising sector is no exception. Franchise operations in China have already been affected by severe disruption, with many foreign franchisors closing their branches in China since the outbreak was first reported.
An exciting opportunity has arisen to purchase Fun Science Sunderland which offers science workshops, after school clubs, birthday parties and workshops to primary aged children in and around Sunderland. Fun Science Sunderland is currently run by ‘Einstein Emma’ and has built up a fantastic local reputation.
Emma started this Fun Science Sunderland in September 2018 to fit around her part time work. Emma worked hard to secure work with a local library and has built up a great reputation with them. Fun Science Sunderland continues to work with this library on a regular basis in school holidays and also runs a weekly after school club at a local school which the school are keen to continue. When full, this after school club generates a turnover of £120 per week. In October 2018, just after starting up, Emma was unexpectedly offered a place on a Masters programme. Initially, Emma continued to run the branch alongside her Masters programme but is now struggling to keep up with demand and Emma doesn’t feel she is running the branch to its full potential so has made the decision to sell it.
Emma says “We have had a lot of interest and comments such as “I haven’t seen anything like this within the area” and “it’s great that you can make science fun for kids!” I have enjoyed working with the children and having fun whilst teaching but there is so much more that can be done, unfortunately I don’t have the time to keep running the franchise to its capacity. The area covered under the franchise hasn’t been fully covered by us and it would be beneficial to do more advertising within County Durham as we have had people travel to our events from these areas. We do hope someone will be willing to take on this franchise and give it the time that is needed as it’s the children who benefit from this. Even working full time and studying part time from September 2018 to April 2019 we earned £2500 from parties and events”.
Emma has done a fantastic job building the branch up and creating a good reputation in the local area but there is much more potential to be explored. Fun Science Sunderland has recently had interest from 11 more schools who would like to run weekly Fun Science clubs. If these were to be taken on by a new branch owner and were full up, they would generate a turnover of £120 per club per week. This could then be added to revenue generated from parties, workshops, regular library events, holiday clubs and additional after school clubs.
If you are interested in taking on the Sunderland branch or would like to find out more then please do email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Mark Burton – Making a business dream a reality
Time to make a change
The right choice
Nic & Sarah Johnson – A partnership that works
The benefits of a franchise
A record-breaking beginning
For the better part of 20 years, Alex Thompson was an estate agent in Notting Hill. Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about property. Yet if it hadn’t been for PPP, he says his foray into the world of HMOs would have been a risky experiment.
“I wanted a change of scenery,” he explains. “I wanted to go in a different direction, but I wasn’t sure what I would do. I can’t even recall where I came across PPP – I think it was just looking at ideas and opportunities online.”
Speaking to Franchise Partners at a Discovery Day, “it almost felt like a bit of a cult, because everyone was so positive”. He assumed he’d just met Platinum’s biggest cheerleaders, “but it’s like that all the way through. Everybody really wants to help one another and that’s great.”
After convincing his business partner to buy him out, Alex signed up with PPP in September 2018 and left his job the following January. Now settled in Witney, Oxfordshire, he has two HMOs up and running and a third in the process of conversion.
In the agency environment, his focus was on sales. “Personally, I hadn’t been a landlord, although we looked after 300-400 properties,” he says. As a consequence, the decision to invest in HMOs felt like a wrench “because it was an unknown quantity and I wasn’t quite sure how it would work out. In retrospect, I’m glad I made the decision to go into HMOs but I’m far gladder I did it in conjunction with PPP.”
Understandably, people are curious about why he’s paying for PPP’s expertise. “In retrospect, there’s no way that I could have done what I’ve done, at the speed that I’ve done it, had I done it alone,” he says.
“There are many pitfalls that I could have fallen into, which would have been costly both in terms of expense and time. Knowing that you can follow a route map or model, your first one isn’t an experiment. Speed-wise, I wouldn’t have got to two or three houses in a year – and if you look at the income from just one, that takes a chunk out of the cost of joining in the first place.”
The way Alex sees it, HMOs principally differ from regular properties with respect to their overall set-up (“I’ve got six-bedroom houses where five bedrooms are ensuite”) and the regulations involved. But away from the builders and bureaucrats, he sees other advantages to joining PPP, such as access to sympathetic lenders. Financial advisers, he notes, “can turn around to the bank and say, ‘Listen, this is another of the Platinum guys – he’s using the same model, he’s using the same template, it’s going to be the same situation.’”
Regular get-togethers – made up of quarterly regional events and biannual national training – keep everyone focused and up to speed. “We’ve just had a Christmas lunch,” says Alex, “where we all had a sit down and they brought people in to give talks. It could be about social media, it could be anything to do with the running of the houses.
“You have a chat, you go off on your merry way and it’s really helpful to have those, to check in on things. The regulations are always changing, you need to keep on top of that and the regionals are a great opportunity for them to educate us.”
He’s most effusive, however, about “being part of a group of Partners who are incredibly mutually supportive. We’re all forty and fifty-something people who haven’t got time to mess around and be silly. We all want the same things out of life.
“I’m already making connections with people I could potentially do joint ventures with, perhaps not in the HMO world, but in other areas. I’m doing a course in commercial property with PPP, which has opened my eyes to opportunities beyond this model.”
Learn more about Platinum Property Partners
“We were working too hard,” says Kelly Merry, explaining how she and her husband came to be PPP Franchise Partners. “You just go in, don’t you, every morning at seven? Come home, feed the kids, put them to bed and then later, go to bed yourself. It’s like Groundhog Day and you’re exhausted all the time.”
Previously, she and Simon worked in a school: she as a teacher, he as a systems manager. “We had some savings, a bit of equity in our home. We’d also become accidental landlords with some single lets. We weren’t happy in our jobs and wanted to be our own boss. In the end, we said, ‘We don’t mind working hard, but we need to know that there’s going to be a change.’”
Having discovered Platinum at a franchise show, they paid a visit to the Bournemouth head office to meet founder Steve Bolton and his team. “It sounds like a cliché, but their energy and their ethos matched our values. It was something we just wanted to be a part of,” says Kelly. A year and a half later, the couple have just put the finishing touches to their second HMO in Rugby, Warwickshire.
Kelly’s a dab hand at social media, particularly Instagram, the photo-sharing website. “It’s a massive tool for businesses and the younger generation especially use it as a search engine now, as opposed to Google. They will type in ‘houses for rent’,” she explains.
She’s doing her bit for the planet, too, by recycling and upcycling – that is, creating higher-value items from discarded objects. “I’m a big fan of mid-century furniture and art deco, so when it came to fitting out our HMOs, I thought, ‘I’m going to put a little bit of my personality into this.’”
To give each property an edge, Kelly’s brainwave was to use second-hand, mid-century furniture. Besides being cheaper, it’s more eco-friendly. “Some of the wooden furniture I’ve sanded down and re-oiled, so we’ve got some really nice pieces in good condition. Then I wanted an old, battered-looking sofa, which cost me £100 and is genuine leather – it’s probably a grand’s worth. People on Instagram have cottoned on to that kind of thing.”
She’s installed a wormery in the garden. (“About 70% of household waste is compostable, so you can actually decompose it yourself.”) And to save her tenants driving to work, she’s put three fully serviced, second-hand bikes, complete with cycling helmets, in the shed. “Every single person I showed round said, ‘Oh, wow.’ Even if it wasn’t a selling point, it made us stand out.”
To ensure her tenants’ wellbeing, Kelly has also studied the philosophy of architect Ben Channon, who “in a nutshell, says you need to surround yourself with things that make you feel good” for the sake of your mental health. Plants are a soothing influence; and when a front door needed restoring, “we sanded it all down, and then my dad had a pot of yellow paint left over. When you see yellow, it releases serotonin in your brain.”
For the moment, the Merrys are “super-busy and constantly on the go, but flexible with it. We know we’ve got to work hard for the first few years, but then the income will be a lot more passive. I’ve given up work completely and Simon has gone part-time. He’s barely doing two days a week now.”
They can see a financial end in sight, says Kelly. “We know that once we get our third HMO up and running and fully tenanted, that will replace my income that I used to earn, plus Simon’s full-time income, and hopefully by then it will be a lot more passive as well.” A fourth HMO is in the pipeline.
“The longer we’ve been with PPP, the more we appreciate being with them,” she adds. “The people are amazing. They’re so ambitious, positive, highly motivated – you just want to be a part of that.”
Read more about Platinum Property Partners
Like a lot of his generation, 26-year-old James Tucker hasn’t always had a rosy view of landlords. First at university, then during a year’s internship, he lived in HMOs that “just weren’t the best”. His brother Harry, a couple of years his junior, can tell similar stories. “There wasn’t much choice,” says James, “so you had to go with the sub-par property that was on offer.”
Today, though, the two Londoners have their own HMO in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, on the not-yet-finished Crossrail route between Maidenhead and Slough. “Now I know the regulations about room sizes and so on, I’m wondering if some of the places I lived in were even legal,” adds James.
An inheritance a couple of years ago put the pair on a sounder financial footing, which left them pondering how to invest it. “Property has always been an interest of ours, so that was one of the first places we gravitated to. But in terms of looking for a franchise, we basically stumbled across PPP.”
Until November 2018, they’d been going it alone, looking for properties to renovate in the north of England. For four months, they travelled up and down the country at weekends, with nothing to show for it. “We realised that because of our inexperience and perhaps our age, we weren’t getting any traction at all,” says James.
“I think it was on an online forum that we stumbled across PPP and I started reading up about it. Initially I was thinking, ‘Why would you pay all this money to a franchise when realistically we could do this ourselves?’ I was quite negative, but Harry started looking into it a lot more. He’s slightly more analytical than I am, so he delved into PPP’s business model. We went to one of their Discovery Days and started to have conversations about their offering.”
PPP’s track record appealed to them, but it took another four months of due diligence before they signed on the dotted line. “As hard as we tried, and we literally were trying absolutely everything, we couldn’t find anything negative about them.”
On LinkedIn, they asked Franchise Partners for their candid opinions. “I was maybe a little bit sceptical, thinking it seems too good to be true, but once we attended their Discovery Day, spoke to other Franchise Partners, looked at other business models and case studies, we quickly realised that they’re not just making these facts and figures up.”
For James, the process has been “fantastic”, largely thanks to the mentor he and Harry were assigned. “They help you from the get-go in terms of finding out what type of property to look for, what’s good, what’s bad, locations, all the way through to doing the viewings. We must have looked at about 20 different properties over two days. So many different things can trip you up, and having someone to handhold you through the whole process was hugely valuable to us.”
With their first tenants now settled in, the brothers have ambitious plans to build a large-scale property brand with a compelling online presence. “We will be looking for investors, but it’s still early days. Harry’s background is in the marketing world, so he’s very much focusing on that.”
As James readily concedes, “landlords have a pretty bad reputation. I want housemates who rent from us to think, ‘James and Harry, they’ve been fantastic. Whatever the issue is, they sorted out straight away.’”
Would he recommend joining the franchise? “A hundred percent,” he says. “It’s obviously a huge decision. You have to pay a pretty hefty sum upfront and then the ongoing costs, but you recoup that cost pretty quickly.
“I wouldn’t say jump into it straight away, but I would, hand on my heart, say definitely look at PPP. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t even think we’d have put an offer in on a house. We’d have literally been going backwards and forwards, not getting anywhere.”
Read more about Platinum Property Partners www.theafa.org.uk/members/platinum-property-partners
The AFA is a firm believer in the power of face-to-face networking.
That’s why we’ve been focusing so much of our own time and efforts in developing our regional meet-ups and events, enabling AFA members to connect with each other on a local level, build strong relationships and receive invaluable advice from expert speakers.
Despite the uncertain economy or even Brexit (!), hair never stops growing and people will always need high quality haircuts at reasonable prices, so there will always be a demand for hair salons. If you’re an aspiring hairdressing salon owner, you realistically have two options; either can invest in a franchise or start up on your own. Regardless of which route you choose, owning and managing a hairdressing salon is extremely exciting and rewarding, but does involve an enormous amount of hard work and planning.
Are you a fitness lover with a burning desire to start your own boutique gym?
The 2019 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report reveals that the UK health and fitness industry is healthier and more lucrative than ever before, with more gyms, more members and a greater market value. The total UK gym membership has broken the 10 million mark and the industry is now worth more than £5 billion. In the UK, 1 in every 7 people is a member of a gym.
Here at the AFA, we are huge fans of outsourcing. It means we don’t have to hire employees with specialised skills, which increases cost efficiencies, and have access to a far larger talent pool as and when we need it. It also allows us to focus on our core, business activities, knowing we have excellent outsourcers on hand, who we can rely on to deal with a wide variety of tasks, such as call handling, telemarketing, diary management, accountancy services etc.
Our partners Croner share with us some important legal developments for 2020.
2019 was a busy year for employment law, but 2020 is set to be even busier.
In 2020, Razzamataz will celebrate turning 20.
From humble beginnings, the franchise theatre school has built a network of inspiring franchisees. As part of our celebration, we speak to some of them about their own journeys and what joining the Dragons’ Den backed franchise has done for them.
The Top 5 Things We Did To Grow the AFA in 2019
As 2019 draws to a close, I’d like to reflect on what has been a year of incredible growth for the AFA.
By April, we had literally doubled our membership, as more and more franchisors recognised the AFA as a credible franchising association and turned to us to help them grow their businesses.
Do you have a passion for getting active? Do you want to improve children’s health and wellbeing? Or perhaps you’re a teacher or a coach looking to make a difference on a larger scale. Whatever your background, AFA member, Premier Education, is a fantastic franchise opportunity and, in our opinion, well worth considering.
If you have ever attempted to franchise your business, you’ll know how crucial it is to ensure your financial systems are easy to follow, well organised and scalable. That’s why it makes so much sense to work with our fantastic AFA partner and proud sponsor of our forthcoming AFA Awards, Roden Associates.
WorkBuzz has announced the winners of the 2019 Best Franchise Awards, sponsored by Lloyds Bank, with the presentation taking place at the company’s annual Best Franchise Conference, this year held at the Marriott Hotel in Leicester.
These days, more and more websites seem to be offering live chat support. There are many advantages of using live chat on your website, as it’s usually a lot faster than telephone or email support. It means the customer avoids having to plough through annoying menus, just to reach the topic they need support with or information on, and provides instant answers to queries, eliminating the wait for an email response.
On the 5th November 2011, Cressida Bullock ran the first ever Fun Science party. It was an Amazing Electrics party for two, eight-year-old boys and was held in a home in Bath. Eight years on, Fun Science is celebrating its eighth birthday and a few things have changed!
Personal stylist and colour analysis experts House of Colour hope to create up to 100 new jobs after announcing plans to increase their UK franchises to 200 in the next five years. House of Colour is also celebrating after being awarded a SME News UK Enterprise Award for Personal Stylists of the Year 2019.