From the Police Officer to franchisee: Lucy’s story (OSCAR)

OSCAR is the family business that provides the complete pet care service, delivering a comprehensive range of pet foods, treats and pet accessories direct to the door.

We asked Lucy Banks, Owner of OSCAR Pet Food East Hampshire and West Sussex five questions about the franchise:

Did you have any experience of owning a franchise before this venture?

‘No, this is the first time I have run my own business or worked within a franchise. It was  a completely new venture as previously I have always been employed by quite large companies and had a big network of people to work alongside. My last employment was as a police officer and this was a completely different to the world I was about to move into. I have some experience of running a business not personally but my Dad has run his own business for many years, so I am used to the work ethic and self-motivation that has to go alongside running your own business.’

What made you decide to take on the franchise?

‘After I had my son in February 2014, I decided I didn’t want to carry on with the police, I didn’t want to be working long unpredictable shifts and relying on others to look after him. I was not in a position to give up work so I began thinking about my options and the possibilities of running my own business. I was already a customer with Oscar, when our local advisor retired I decided to look at their website and see if there was any info, I read lots of case studies and decided to enquire with head office.

I began to get excited as this just felt right from the start, there were a number of boxes that needed to be ticked for this to work for us as a family. Taking on this franchise has meant that I could work around our family and their needs. I get to work with people face to face which I have always enjoyed and working with dogs is a dream come true.  Getting all of that, plus the back up of the franchise and the incredible support that is offered meant this franchise was the only decision for me.’

How did you fund the franchise?

‘I had some money saved from an accident I had been involved in and used this along with some savings I had to pay for the franchise. I needed to buy a van so I sold my car to help fund this. I made an office space for myself at home and converted 2/3rds of my garage into a stock room or “the pet shop” as we now refer to it, this all meant I had no costs to pay out for office or storage space.’

What difficulties did you face and how did you overcome them?

‘I wouldn’t say it’s been a difficulty, but the main challenge for me was getting used to working from home and juggling my time between being “mummy” and working (I’m currently playing tea parties with my son while writing this!). I overcame this by getting up about an hour before my son wakes up to have time to catch up on some emails etc, I then try and give him my full attention when he’s up, and he comes out delivering with me too. I work again when he has a nap and then again once he’s in bed. Getting used to doing accounts was a big change for me also as this is something I have never had to do before. This took some practice and the accountant at Oscars head office Chris is always on hand to answer any questions, along with my Dad who regularly gets phonecalls from me when I am doing my accounts! There are some small day to day challenges but the great thing with Oscar is there is always someone I can call or email for advice.’

What advice do you have for others looking to take on a franchise?

‘I would advise people to do their research and speak to others in that franchise to get their opinions. For me speaking to different franchisees was a great help in deciding that this was an option for us. Work out your finances and make sure you can afford to get things off the ground, shop around for the best deals when starting up like banking rates etc. Be strict with your time, be prepared that it doesn’t just happen overnight you have to put a lot of time and effort into the franchise to build it up, but that in exchange for being your own boss and building something to be proud of is so worth it.

Oscar’s offer potential franchisees a chance to spend a day with another franchisee and get some “on the job experience”, I would highly recommend this to anyone as it’s a great way to get a feel for how things work.’

Find out how you can become an Oscar Pet Food franchisee on Reed Commercial now.

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Sandy Purewal

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