Sally Miles decided to ‘get the Pitman advantage’ and swapped her senior management position for a life as a Pitman Training franchisee.
She shared her story with Reed Commercial.
Did you have any experience of owning a franchise before this venture?
No, I spent 20 years within management, but no franchise or self-employment experience.
What made you decide to take on the franchise?
A desire to be in charge of my own destiny whilst not having to go it completely alone. Franchising offered me a reduced-risk compromise; being my own boss but with the support of an established, proven business model. It would take years to develop a brand and product offering as strong as Pitman Training, whereas I was able to hit the ground running and just concentrate on developing the centre in Canterbury. The leads were coming in from day one as people already knew the name, so I didn’t have to focus too much on marketing until I was ready, yet I was still covering my costs almost immediately.
How did you fund the franchise?
Redundancy money and our savings – the extension had to be postponed for a year!
What difficulties did you face and how did you overcome them?
I have always been very lucky and earned a high salary, so no longer having a guaranteed income was scary, although it’s amazing how much you can tighten your belt when you have to!
Having been in senior management for many years, my knowledge of running a business was pretty good, but still, it’s been a huge learning curve. In the first few months, my head was constantly buzzing and my ‘to do’ list was overwhelming. I worked ridiculously long hours getting things set up how I wanted them but second best was never going to work for me.
I keep a notebook beside the bed for those moments in the middle of the night when I suddenly think of something. I ask questions of everyone and have various phone numbers of people and bodies who can advise me, it’s just faster to pick up the phone and ask an expert than it is trawling the internet trying to work things out for yourself.
What advice do you have for others looking to take on a franchise?
Ensure you’ve got sufficient funds so that you can afford to do things properly – a professional image is essential. Do your homework and make sure your franchisor is worth your investment; if you can, speak to people who are already in the network. Check out the local competition, is the brand strong enough to beat your competition?
Do get to know your prospective franchisor, they are so much more than your supplier so it’s essential you share the same values and approach to business if the relationship is to work.
Being your own boss is especially rewarding, but it’s not for the faint-hearted so be prepared for long hours and some sleepless nights in the early days. Conversely, don’t forget that your franchisor will insist on certain constraints and you have to be prepared to stick to your agreement; so do consider those terms closely before you commit!franchisee, interview, pitman training