Gavin Catlow-Hawkins swapped life as an independent business owner for life as a franchisee.
After running two independent businesses, Gavin decided that it was time for a change. Gavin now runs a successful Driving Miss Daisy franchise in Cheltenham he shares his story:
Life before Driving Miss Daisy
‘Before starting Driving Miss Daisy I had no franchise experience but I had started, and later sold, two businesses in the last 20 years. So I was aware of what was needed to get a new venture off the ground and running profitably as soon as possible.’
From independent business ownership to franchisee
‘After selling my second business, a café/ coffee shop, I decided that I had spent enough time thinking up marketing material and sorting out uniforms, logos and web sites etc. I wanted something that was already packaged as a business, a proven business model with realistic expectations. I wanted something that would enable me to hit the ground running, rather than start another business that would require me to spend time running the back office functions and not actually growing the business. At 11.00am on my first day I took out my first paying client and each week since it’s got busier and busier. 17 weeks after starting I have taken delivery of an additional vehicle and my next driver is currently training, ready to help grow the business.’
Funding the venture
‘I have funded my franchise out of my own pocket, which removes the extra pressure of a Bank Manager and paying interest rates and providing extra detailed business plans. However, it does bring my wife into closer contact as she wants to make sure the investment in the franchise is working as hard as it can!’
‘Driving Miss Daisy works as a service and as a business model, so the biggest hurdle I have had to overcome is brand awareness. I was a completely new service in Gloucestershire and it took a while for me to hone my sales skills to get the message across. I have spent money on newspaper advertising, local magazines and I regularly walk around my local area pushing leaflets through people’s doors. An hour a day doing a leaflet drop is a nice change from routine driving and chatting to people. I have also just taken out a pitch side advertising board at my local league 2 football ground to help with brand awareness and promotion.’
Advice to future franchisees
‘My advice is, which I have to say I followed, find a franchise that you believe in, that provides something that you can identify with and you can see that there is a need for in your local area. Have a positive mental attitude, it won’t work overnight, but it will grow, sometimes more slowly than you would hope. If you believe in it, enjoy the challenge, follow the method or plan from the franchisor and it will work out. Also, make sure the franchisor you are working with has the same ideals and goals as you and will provide you with back up and support; initially when you need it most but, also, continually as your own business grows and your needs change.’
Are you ready to take the next step?
If you are prepared to take the plunge, get in touch with Driving Miss Daisy today. They will provide you with all the information you need to decide if the franchise is right for you and help you start your journey.