Prior to becoming an Ovenclean Franchisee, James had a very successful career; from international event management to Head of Fundraising for a National Charity. After a company restructure in 2012 ended in a voluntary redundancy, James began thinking about an alternative, self-employed lifestyle. In 2014 James began his search into franchising after family health concerns meant he needed more control over his own life and diary.
“I wanted to be self-employed and felt that buying into a franchise would be the ideal way to achieve that with suitable support. I went to an Ovenclean open day and I liked what I saw. The fact that I would be paying a flat fee rather than a percentage of income appealed to me, as well as the professional set up, the support available, and the fact that there was no pressure to invest. It was also reassuring to know there were some other big brands within the Franchise Brands network, such as ChipsAway.”
“I was keen to do some more research before making a decision, and Ovenclean arranged for me to have several telephone conversations with active franchisees, and even spend a day out on the road with an established specialist, which gave me a great insight as to what to expect. I looked over the business plan Ovenclean had provided, and with their help developed my own plan specific to my area, and what I wanted to achieve from a financial point of view.”
In September 2014, James became the 100th franchisee to join the Ovenclean network. “The launch of my business couldn’t have gone better! I really enjoyed my comprehensive two-week training course; my trainer was always available to give me technical and marketing advice, long after that initial few weeks! The launch package put together by the support team was hugely beneficial – It was in the run up to Christmas, which is generally the busiest time, but it was the perfect start to my new venture. I was literally manic for the first three months, and the following year, I was taking bookings for pre-Christmas cleans 6 months in advance!”
However, running your own business of course has it’s challenges, “It was hard physically when I first started, getting fit to undertake a very physical role, at the end of the day I knew I had been through a proper workout, but soon, my blood pressure was down, and I even lost half a stone!
“Financially, it takes time to establish the business, but now I’ve got regular clients and recommendations, things are much rosier from a financial point of view and I’m making a decent living. I enjoy building up relationships with my customers and have a good hard core of regulars who are more than happy enough to chat about a range of things, families, holidays, hobbies; I like to add a bit extra like pulling in the bins on bin day, tying up tomato plants etc. which is appreciated.”
Now many years down the line, we asked James how his life has improved since joining Ovenclean:
“I love being out and about meeting new people every day, and I really enjoy the flexibility that comes with being your own boss. It means that we are now able to visit our holiday home in Pembrokeshire more often, and I can stop work early to play the odd round of golf if I want to; making up the time during weekends and evenings.”
We asked James what advice would he give to someone looking to buy a franchise. “The key to success is hard work, do a good clean and tidy job, make sure you enter every house with a friendly face, to ensure you get repeat business and recommendations. Look closely at the financial figures, take professional advice to make sure you know you can get through the first couple of years. Talk to as many people as possible who have bought a franchise.”
When asked if there was anything he would have done differently on his franchise journey, James said “I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever about my decision and couldn’t be happier! I wish I had done it much earlier in my life with a view to getting more vans on the road and take a more managerial role, but my focus for the future is to continue developing the business over the next five years, with a view to selling when I’m ready.”