Kristy Roff and Suzanne Evett exemplify why communication is key when running a business with a friend
Name: Kristy Roff (44) and Suzanne Evett (46)
Organisation: Get Ahead Berkshire, North Hampshire and Surrey
Years trading: 3
After being friends for 15 years, Kristy and Suzanne from Get Ahead got into franchising and have enjoyed amazing success. In fact, they’ve delivered over £100,000 income, a massive 50 per cent increase from FY21 to FY22.
Introduction to franchising
Suzanne: Kristy and I have known each other for 15 years now. We’d worked in separate businesses, but always talked about work and counselled each other through work issues. Then five or six years ago, we decided that we wanted to start working together.
We had looked to going into running an outsourcing agency. When we knew what we wanted to do, we started very actively looking to start our business. We started following some of the franchises to find out what they were, what they were doing. And Get Ahead just really stood out to us.
Your business strengths
Kristy: Our values and aspirations align, and our skill set is complementary.
Suzanne is very operational. She has a background in corporate HR and had been a very successful virtual expert for six years or so. Then my sales and marketing experience helps us think about new business generation and how to grow.
Get Ahead as an organisation
Kristy: For us, it’s about being able to be fully autonomous in our own local region and to have control over our business as we want to grow it. We don’t have the constraints of a target or pressure from an external source, it’s fully under our control. But we still feel very much part of the team. It’s nice to feel valued as part of the wider network as well.
Suzanne: Get Ahead gives us the best of both worlds.
Most difficult part of the job
Kristy: It’s something we say to all our clients. It’s about time, managing the workload and distributing our own efforts internally.
Biggest challenge facing the industry
Kristy: On the commercial side, it’s about demonstrating that we are a valuable option to clients over and above going direct to an independent virtual assistant or to an offshore solution. Often an objection we have is a client saying they could go direct to somebody and pay less. So pricing has been key.
Suzanne: From my side, it’s ensuring that our resource base is what we need it to be. Post-COVID, there’s been a real influx of independent freelancers and a lot of people who didn’t want to go back to the office started working for themselves. That has brought in competition within the freelance market. But the work that we have done to give a really robust, secure onboarding process to ensure we have professional, skilled, referenced, insured experts, just allows Kristy to go and do her part of the job really well because she knows she can trust the resource base that we’ve put in.
An important business lesson
Suzanne: You just learn all the time. For us in partnership, it’s all about communication. That’s probably what I’ve learnt the most about.
Kristy: I think it’s about being honest and transparent with each other and having processes and a good set up. Just making sure that the business runs as it should so you’re not constantly chasing your tail. We’re fortunate that Suzanne has great operational skills, so we’re very systematic.
Looking to the future
Kristy: For the next five years, we want to just put everything into it and grow. Then within five to 10 years, we want to be at a point where we can generate more of a passive income. We can step back a little bit and start relinquishing some of our day-to-day duties to some other resources. But in order to get to that point, we need to grow the business.
Get to know
My motto is…
Suzanne: to be authentic and open.
Kristy: to stay positive and if you can’t be positive, don’t go to the negative.
Best piece of advice I live by…
Suzanne: Think before you speak.
Kristy: Get in your mind what you want to achieve