The AFA Awards 2020 – Winners list and judges comments…

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we at the Approved Franchise Association were in the throws of planning our second, annual awards ceremony, which was due to take place this month. Our first awards event, last year, was a huge success, and we were excitedly organising a fantastic ceremony and gala dinner that was sure to outdo last year’s efforts.

Once the pandemic hit, we made the decision not to cancel the event, but hold a free, virtual ceremony instead. Our awards play a vital role in boosting morale within the sector at a time when it is really needed, as well as helping people to raise their profile within the sector. We also wanted to recognise and reward those franchisors, franchisees and suppliers who have worked tirelessly over the past year to ensure the sector continues to flourish, despite these challenging times.

Our virtual ceremony enabled the finalists to attend the ceremony with their family and friends and opened the event up to a far wider audience than we had originally expected. This provided great support for all of our finalists and initial feedback suggests everyone enjoyed the event as much as we did! If you missed it – catch up here; https://fb.watch/1OwKIxwAZO/

We are delighted to extend our warmest congratulations to our finalists and award winners, who are as follows:

 

OUTSTANDING YOUNG FRANCHISOR AWARD – Sponsored by The International Franchise Show London

FINALISTS        Simon Duong – Little Mandarin Classes, Cameron McClure – Support Solutions, Rachel Fay – Little Learners

BRONZE           Cameron McClure – Support Solutions

Summary of judges comments “Cameron’s story demonstrated high levels of thought provoked leadership, having grown the business on his own initiative. The commitment and high level of support dedicated to their franchisee’s was highlighted throughout. We feel Cameron has a lot of room to develop and continue growth of the franchise.”

SILVER             Simon Duong – Little Mandarin Classes

Summary of judges comments “What stood out in this particular applicant was the dedication and hard work from such a young age. Simon’s entrepreneurial spirit shone through the application, along with the unique concept of Little Mandarin Classes, making him a deserving winner of the AFA’s Outstanding Young Franchisor Award of The Year.”

GOLD               RACHEL FAY – LITTLE LEARNERS

Summary of judges comments “Rachel’s story is so inspirational, she has almost single-handedly grown Little learners into an international franchise active on two continents, balancing motherhood and whole heartedly engaging with her franchise community. Everyone has been highly impressed by her passion for Little Learners and her network.”

With thirty-six franchisees, a story book collection and huge entrepreneurial spirit, the judges agreed that Rachel’s story was most inspirational.

 

FRANCHISOR OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by TRUSTist

FINALISTS        Andrew Alleway – Tidy Green Clean, Cressida Bullock – Fun Science, Cherry Simmonds – Driving Miss Daisy, Simon Smith – Tubz Brands, Anna Neville – Kidslingo Ltd, Joanne Aldridge – The Holiday Franchise Company, Paul Mitchell – Business Sales Plus / Accentia, Angela Stirling – Lingotot, Caroline Sparks, Gabi Lixton – Turtle Tots

BRONZE           Andrew Alleway – Tidy Green Clean

Summary of judges comments “Great franchisee support, product and service USP”

SILVER             Angela Sterling – Lingotot

Summary of judges comments “Clear focused and progressive”

GOLD               Caroline Sparks and Gaby Lixton – Turtle Tots

Summary of judges comments “Superior support in the face of extreme adversity”

The judging for this category was particularly difficult as every entry demonstrated such inspiration and talent, it was a very tight race. The standout with Turtle Tots were really creative solutions and extreme determination despite being forced to close down without being able to offer an online swimming alternative, the network didn’t just shut down, instead took time to reflect and prepare which was very admirable. With over fifty franchisees in the UK and Ireland, with Caroline and Gaby leading the way we are sure Turtle Tots will continue to flourish.

Anna Neville from Kidslingo Ltd, Paul Mitchell from Business Sales Plus and Accentia and Joanne Aldridge from The Holiday Franchise Company were all highly commended for being within one point of a winning entrant in the final.

 

FRANCHISE LEADER OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by Darwin Gray

FINALISTS        Anna Neville – Kidslingo Ltd, Anton Skarlatov – Fantastic Services, Luke Western – The Holiday Franchise Company, Angela Sterling – Lingotot, Andrew Alleway and David Moncur – Tidy Green Clean, Nikki Geddes – Kiddy Cook, David Mathie – Just Cuts

BRONZE           Angela Sterling – Lingotot

Summary of judges comments “Her application demonstrates how she taken this year by the scruff of its neck and used it to support, grow and direct her franchisees. She has been hugely proactive and the way in which she has inspired and motivated her franchisees  during such a turbulent time is testament to her abilities as a franchise leader.”

SILVER             Anton Skarlatov – Fantastic Services

Summary of judges comments “A strong entry from Anton who has been proactive in seeking solutions to support his franchisees during this difficult year. This application showed strong leadership and clear vision.”


GOLD               Anna Neville – Kidslingo Ltd

Summary of judges comments “The application consistently demonstrates that Anna is a strong leader and has successfully grown her franchise network over the last year. The application highlights how Anna has transformed her business model quickly to offer online learning programmes as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Excellent application.”

David Mathie from Just Cuts, Nikki Geddes from Kiddy Cook and Luke Western from The Holiday Franchise Company were highly commended for scoring within one point of a winning entrant in the final.

 

BEST FRANCHISE SUPPORT FINALISTS – Sponsored by The Franchise Protection Company

Richard Bryan – Wilkins Chimney Sweep, Charlotte Salter – Debutots, Galina Karsheva – Fantastic Services, Vicki Vinton – Platinum Property Partners, Jessica Bonnard – Language for Fun, Dean Martin – Bluebird Care, Niri Patel – Fit20, Helen Simmons – Caterpillar Music, Caroline Sparks and Gabi Lixton – Turtle Tots.

BRONZE           Caterpillar Music

Summary of judges comments “Helen’s bespoke software stood out, it was great to see such a personal touch from the top”

SILVER             Fantastic Services

Summary of judges comments “Very structured approach with clear objectives, lots of investment has clearly gone into systems and processes such as The Academy”

GOLD               DEBUTOTS

Summary of judges comments “Great structured support pre and post covid, really strong application. It was amazing to see the detailed level of thought gone into support at every stage of a franchisees business development.”

The judges were particularly impressed with Debutots’ efforts to design comprehensive support packages for each stage of a franchisee’s business and believe a clear and strong strategy has been demonstrated – both pre and during the COVID pandemic – with excellent, tailored communication schedules in place.

Turtle Tots, Bluebird Care, Platinum Property Partners and Fit20 were highly commended for being within one point of a winning entrant in the final.

 

OUTSTANDING FRANCHISE MARKETING – Sponsored by DTP Print

FINALISTS        Amy Cross Webber – Spoton.net, Becky Hoare – Pop Up Play Village, Galina Karsheva – Fantastic Services, Rebekka Westwood – Lingotot Wakefield, Dean Martin – Bluebird Care

BRONZE           Spoton.net

A summary of judges comments “This entry has shown a very well developed marketing strategy.  Their use of social media and other relevant media and event to grow business and franchise sales is thorough and clearly very effective.  They have demonstrated a very adaptive approach based on measuring results and listening to feedback.  They also show some plans for future marketing around case studies.”


SILVER             Fantastic Services

A summary of judges comments “The supportive approach to their franchisees sets this entry apart.  Their marketing strategy is admirable in its balance of driving business to franchisees, but also passing on through training to master franchises.  This year they have adapted extremely well to maximise opportunities within their sector and have grown business and franchise sales accordingly.”

GOLD                       Bluebird Care

A summary of judges comments “What sets this entry apart is the clear and committed approach to their marketing and in particular the measuring of results which is key to any good strategy.  The entrant has demonstrated a strong commitment and a good balance to supporting and growing their franchisees as well as caring for the end user of their services.  They make good use of social media platforms and have had strong and relevant press and media coverage.  Clearly a business committed to their marketing strategy and succeeding demonstrated in their achievement of several goals well ahead of schedule.”

Lingotot Wakefield and Pop Up Play Village were highly commended for being within one point of a winning entrant in the final. The judges were particularly impressed with Bluebird Care’s clear and committed approach to its marketing, demonstrating a strong commitment to its marketing strategy, including allocating specific headcount for local, franchisee marketing and rigorous monitoring of marketing spend and results.

 

BEST NEW FRANCHISE – Sponsored by Accentia Franchise Consultants

FINALISTS        Kelly Jenkins – Beaming Babies, Suzy Sanders – Alchemy Virtual Assistance, Dee Gardner – The Menopause Experts, Lee Hesketh – Your Mortgage Plus, Michelle Nicklin – Sandstone Yoga and Pilates and David Mathie – Just Cuts UK

BRONZE           The Menopause Experts

Our judges said “Unique franchise – broad offering for franchisees with clear structured business with growth”

SILVER       Your Mortgage Plus

Our judges said “Well thought out concept, great opportunity and good growth. What else would you look for in a new franchise opportunity?”

GOLD               JUST CUTS UK

Our judges said “Very clear application with clear description of their mid to long term vision, business plan is concise and ingenious. Supporting evidence from franchisee business growth and testimonials really help this application to shine.”

The judges were particularly impressed with Just Cuts UK application, new to the UK their business plan clear supporting evidence was provided of franchisee development and business growth.

Suzy Sanders from Alchemy Virtual Assistance was highly commended for being within one point of a winning entrant in the final.

 

OUTSTANDING YOUNG FRANCHISEE – Sponsored by Elite Franchise

FINALISTS        Chloe Marchand – Kidslingo Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury, Sophie Lee Lewis – Pop Up Play Village, Caerphilly, Stacey Cooney – Rainbow International Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and Dumfries and Galloway, James and Harry Tucker – Platinum Property Partners Habodes, Slough and Berkshire, Holly Feltham – Just Cuts Lakeside

BRONZE           Stacey Cooney – Rainbow International Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire & Dumfries & Galloway

Our judges said “It’s great to see how through sheer dedication and hard work at a very young age, Stacey work her way up through the business to run her own that’s a great achievement. Also how she goes an extra step to meet her customers in order to give that additional support.”

SILVER             Chloe Marchand – Kidslingo Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury

Our judges said “Really like that Chloe is building additional tools outside of the franchise to better her business and push herself further. She displays a clear passion and insight for a young entrepreneur. Also how she immediately looked to adapt the business when lockdown hit and that in a sense the business was already prepared for a disaster recovery situation.”

GOLD         Holly Feltham – Just Cuts Lakeside

Our judges said “What a great brand ambassador, love this story. Great to also see Holly show her objectives and goals for growth in the future via expansion demonstrating what she has learnt and clearly built and improved a successful business. The application was great covering all areas of the business including motivation for her staff in difficult times and continuously looking at ways to improve business processes to make it a more effective business – Well done Holly and clearly going to be someone to look out for in the industry in the future.”

We would also like to highly commend Sophie Lee Lewis from Pop Up Play Village in and around Caerphilly and James and Harry Tucker from Platinum Property Partners Habodes, Slough and Berkshire, who were within one point of placing in the final.The judges were inspired by Holly’s story going from hairdresser and stylist to business and franchise owner. The judges were pleased to see Holly’s goals and expansion objectives for the future and her impressive progress in growing her turnover by 45% since last November.

 

FRANCHISEE OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by Just Cuts UK

FINALISTS        Erica and Frank Mudd – Pop Up Play Village Reading and Basingstoke, Annette Barrett – Cook Stars Cardiff North and West, Jennifer David – Debutots Finchley, Hampstead and Muswell Hill, Ivanka Obreshkova – Fantastic Services, Becky MacLean – Kidslingo Plymouth, Michaela Nowik – Extra Help Milton Keynes, Anna Coggan – Caterpillar Music Newark.

BRONZE           Anna Coggan – Caterpillar Music Newark

The judges said “Great business growth shown throughout COVID, really dedicated passionate franchisee.”

SILVER             Michaela Nowik from Extra Help Milton Keynes

The judges said “Her passion shines through in her application she has shown impressive growth in her franchise.”

GOLD               Ivanka Obreshkova from Fantastic Services

The judges said “True leader, we loved Ivanka’s story, outstanding levels of growth and commitment to supporting her teams even through difficult times.”

The judges chose Ivanka as their Gold award winner as they believe she demonstrates excellent leadership qualities. She empowers everyone around her, showing huge commitment to creating and adapting a systematic approach to growing her business. Ivanka actually began her career as a cleaner for Fantastic Services and now leads over thirty teams within her franchise! She is a fair leader and clearly passionate about her business.

Erica and Frank Mudd from Pop Up Play Village in Reading and Basingstoke and Becky MacLean from Kidslingo Plymouth were highly commended for scoring within one point of a winning entrant in the final.

 

FRANCHISEE NETWORK CONTRIBUTION AWARD – Sponsored by NatWest

FINALISTS        John Cooper – It’seeze Website Design Leicester, Sarah Canavan – Lingotot Bexley, Amy Archer – Kidslingo Erdington, Great Barr and Aldridge, Erica and Frank Mudd – Pop Up Play Village Basingstoke and Reading, Amy Sinclair –  Popolo Ceramico Sunderland, Duncan Attwood – Fit20 Exeter, Tony Antoniou – OvenGleamers Gravesend and Medway.

BRONZE           Duncan Attwood – Fit20 Exeter

Our judges commented “A team player and positive role model for the brand, passionate about improving health but up against some really tough opposition!”

BRONZE           Erica and Frank Mudd – Pop Up Play Village Basingstoke and Reading

Our judges commented “Truly passionate and brand ambassadors, in addition to running 2 territories, showing an outstanding level of commitment to support of the franchisor and wider network to develop and grow.”

SILVER             Sarah Canavan from Lingotot Bexley

Our judges commented “On a daily basis going above and beyond, recognised by the franchisor as ‘Community Champion’, multi award winning and an absolutely outstanding ambassador to the brand.  Very inspirational to the network and franchising as a whole, especially during lockdown!”

GOLD Tony Antoniou from OvenGleamers Gravesend and Medway

 

Our judges commented “Selfless enthusiasm and passion for the brand and willing to go the extra mile to inspire the network and offer the best service to its customer base.  Always there to offer help and ideas, would be a credit to any network or company.”


Amy Sinclair from Popolo Ceramico Sunderland was also highly commended for scoring within one point of a winning entrant in the final. Tony is always there to offer help and advice to others and has demonstrated strong support for the network and franchisor.

 

SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by The AFA

FINALISTS        Stephen Thompson, Darwin Gray, Samantha Cameron, Social Media Expert, Simon Pullum, Azure Group Ltd, Keiran James, Stryde, Nigel Apperley, TRUSTist, Paul Mitchell, Accentia Franchise Consultants, Russ Turner, Business Digest Magazine

BRONZE           Kieran James – Stryde

Our judges said “unique focused proposition to support both franchisees and franchisors”

BRONZE           Nigel Apperley of TRUSTist

Our judges said “Great platform – really helping on many levels to grow business not only for franchisees but for the franchisor as well”

SILVER             Paul Mitchell – Accentia Franchise Consultants

Our judges said “Strong application, working with clients long after helping them to franchise is a testament in itself”

GOLD               Stephen Thompson – Darwin Gray

Our judges said “Stephen and the team show an endless commitment to promoting franchising not only locally but nationally. They provide a wide range of services to clients in different sectors throughout franchising, and dedicate lots of time to give back to the franchise community”

The judges also highly commended Simon Pullum from Azura Group Ltd, who was within one point of being a winning entrant in the final.

Sarah, Director of Operations at the AFA said “Stephen and his team at Darwin Gray have a long history of providing great support to the UK franchise sector, selfless and down to earth it’s been a pleasure to work with them over the years. It’s wonderful to see their services being recognised by judges at our awards ceremony, there was some tough competition we are however delighted that they won our gold award this year.”

 

The AFA would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who entered the awards, nominated their colleagues and attended our ceremony. We look forward to next year’s ceremony which, hopefully, will revert to the face-to-face, gala event we were originally planning and promises to be bigger and better than ever!

Visit our website to find out how you can get further involved with the AFA and become an accredited member; www.theafa.org.uk/how-it-works

For a full list of winners please visit www.theafa.org.uk/awards

For sponsorship enquiries for our 2021 awards please email sarah@theafa.org.uk

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