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#Leading the change

#Leading the change

#Leading The Change is the bfa’s latest campaign, featuring a selection of interviews with women in franchising. We asked them to share their advice, tips and stories from their shared experiences, the challenges they face and how they have overcome them

The bfa is proud to support women in business, from our exceptional all-women executive team, to our annual Empowering Women In Business (EWIB) event, where we are joined by over 100 women in business for a day of inspiring talks, workshops and networking opportunities. We’re here for women in business.

Who are the bfa?:

The British Franchise Association (bfa) is the official association for the UK’s franchise industry. Having raised the standards of professionalism within franchising, we continue to do so through our educational programme for franchisors and franchisees. As a result, we provide confidence for those wanting to invest in an ethical business and act as a trusted partner to those already franchising. We uphold and instil the European Code of Ethics, as the UK’s only official member of the European Franchise Federation. Our dedication to franchising means we provide you with trusted information, so you can make an informed choice.

A huge thank you to the following brands for taking part in #LeadingTheChange

Donna Cotton

Barking Mad franchisee

Q: What advice would you give to your teenage self?

A: I wasn’t academic at school, but I didn’t let that stop me from believing I could be successful – I just had to find the right path. When I was 16, I applied for a variety of jobs in the local area and received some offers, but a job working at Boots’ Head Office really jumped out at me. I completed a three-month trial and was offered a permanent job. By the time I was 25, I was an established buyer – something I always thought was only available to people with a degree. I guess you could say I had beaten the ‘graduate gremlin’ – the idea that it’s only academics that can climb the career ladder. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Q: How do you de-stress after facing tough situations?

A: At Barking Mad, we benefit from a strong network of like-minded businesspeople who are likely to have already experienced any challenges you are. So, you can always rely on someone being around to chat things through and see if you took the right steps or if there’s anything you can learn from in the future. I always try and take a positive from a bad situation and if possible, find the funny side of what’s happening. Keeping your sense of humour is important. And of course, I get to enjoy the company of dogs and their owners all day, so 99 per cent of the time I’m having fun and enjoying what I do!

Q: What’s the best career advice you ever received?

A: An old line manager once said to me that it’s not until you leave a job that you realise the value of your skills. When you work for a blue-chip organisation, it’s so targeted and profit-driven that you can lose sight of what you’re learning along the way. What she said gave me a lot of self-belief that I could one day work on my own and apply all my skills in another environment – and she was right.

Emily Coy

Business Doctors franchisee

Q: What has been your biggest business hurdle so far, and how did you overcome it?

A: I know this will sound odd but developing my listening skills. I’m not just talking about the act of listening, but the art of listening. During the Business Doctors training (and with the help of Simon Sinek – the go-to BD guru) I learned that listening is more than hearing – hearing someone just proves your ears work, but really listening, without judgement and with curiosity, is an amazingly powerful thing! It creates an environment where the person feels heard, respected, and important – it creates a space for them to offload, unburden, and ‘empty the bucket’ so to speak. When you get it right, it’s extremely powerful and a very quick way to build trust and find a common ground with a person you’ve never met before. Running a small to medium size business can be a really stressful and lonely place and if I can help by really listening to the route of where the stress lies, and then help them with the right solution – well, it’s just so rewarding. It really helps in your personal life too.

Q: What are the highlights of your role?

A: Working with my clients, of course! I love working with my clients and seeing them progress, it’s what drives me. Knowing I’ve helped a business owner hit their goals is so satisfying. There’s always an immediate positive change in their attitude and energy after I’ve helped clients create a strategy for their business. This is because they suddenly have clarity and focus on their business goals and how they are going to achieve them. I get to work with business owners from a wide variety of industries, from website designers to builders, and that makes every day interesting. It’s a privilege to see inside someone else’s business and witness the passion for what they do.

Q: What’s a goal that you’re currently working towards?

A: I bought my Business Doctors franchise because I wanted to work in my local community. However, like many business owners, the pandemic forced me to go networking online. This had the benefit of meeting lots of lovely people from around the country, but the downside was not building relationships with local businesses in my town and region. Therefore, my goal this year has been to reconnect locally and establish myself in my home town of Chesterfield as the number one person to come to for business coaching.

Paula Beaney

Quality assurance director for Promedica24

Q: What has been your biggest business hurdle so far, and how did you overcome it?

A: One of the biggest challenges in my career has been the lack of communication between the government, local authorities, and the Department of Health and Social Care, and having to navigate around quickly changing legislation, which is not always very clear. To overcome this, I keep up to date with the latest guidance and share information with other agencies to ensure that the industry is equipped with the knowledge to keep people safe.

Q: What part of your job most excites you?

A: I am most excited about getting the word out about live-in care and making it a viable option for people who need support. I am a personal advocate for live-in care, as it allows people to remain in the comfort of their own homes, and I believe that it can help deal with the current social care crisis. It is really motivating to work in a part of the care sector that’s gaining popularity, and by ensuring that Promedica24 offers excellent care, I am helping further raise the status of live-in care.

Q: What’s the best career advice you ever received?

A: The best advice I’ve received is to have integrity at all times – if something feels wrong, then it is wrong. It is extremely crucial to always be open and transparent when working in social care and treating people how you would like to be treated. This is a simple benchmark that I adhere to, and knowing that I have done so gives me peace of mind.

Rachel Brooks

Managing director of Swimtime

Q: What advice would you give to your teenage self?

A: As a teenager I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play numerous sports. I played hockey and netball at the county level, did various track and field events, competed in the pentathlon and went on to represent GB in the hurdles. Training and competing was hard work, not just physically but mentally. I struggled with failure, to the point where it would cripple my performance in a competition, one of the reasons why I didn’t continue as an athlete. If I could speak with my teenage self, I’d be saying that it’s fine to fail. The world won’t end because you didn’t perform on the day as well as you did in training — you should embrace the opportunity to improve.

Q: Tell us about a time you wanted to give up but didn’t

A: About 18 months after the birth of my first son, in 2004, I set up a business with a business partner and after three years of grafting and not taking a salary, and at a point when we were about to ‘go big’, our financial backer withdrew, which left us with no choice but to liquidate the business and make our small team redundant. That was a particularly tough time, I was gutted, and felt defeated. I took six months out to grieve for the loss of what could have been and to work through the learning points from the experience overall. This led to me setting up my own business consultancy in 2008 and I’ve gone on from strength to strength since.

Q: What’s your favourite quote and why?

A: Whilst I know very little about the theory of quantum mechanics, a favourite quote of mine that’s resonated with me from an early age is one from Albert Einstein: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

This sums up my attitude to life and sustains the positive outlook and drive that I have. It’s a quote my sons and those around me will hear when they look for some direction, support or need a pep talk.

Faith Fitzgerald

Regional director/ franchisee for Tidy Green Clean

Q: What has been the biggest business hurdle you’ve encountered so far, and how did you overcome it?

A: My own lack of self-belief was I think the biggest, and to overcome it I got a business mentor and did some work on myself, and that’s made a huge difference. I’ve looked at my purpose in life, I’ve created goals for the future, and I think it’s got me set up for facing anything – all the challenges yet to come.

Q: What do you do when you don’t know the answer to something?

A: First of all, I have a good think because I often do know the answer but just need some space to realise it. If I don’t know the answer, I phone up a couple of the team in Aberdeen, I speak to Andrew, I speak to Callum, and I also speak to my family.

Q: What’s your favourite quote and why

A: Maya Angelou says, “People will forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel” and it’s completely true. In order to run a business, like anything in life, it’s all about people, not about anything else. It’s always about how you relate to people, from potential new contracts to your staff – how you make people feel is what it’s all about.

Rainy Holmes, Lynn Allen, Lisa Stead, and Liz Evans

From Shuttercraft

Q: Why are women the driving force behind Shuttercraft?

A: Shuttercraft is proud of the inspiring women driving the business forward, leading the way with brand values: people, partnership and pride. It puts ‘people’ front and centre, starting from the head office team: over 70 per cent women! A family-orientated business, supporting staff and franchise partners alike with business and personal challenges, we encourage our team to be mentors, coaches and leaders, not just to our franchise partners, but to each other too. “Believe in your dreams and know that the destiny you wish for yourself is achievable, with your dedication, passion, and hard work,” says Rainy Holmes (support coordinator).

Shuttercraft began an apprenticeship scheme in 2020, to help the next generation to do just that, resulting in strong, capable individuals working full-time in the business.

Q: How do you de-stress when facing tough situations?

A: “De-stressing for me is achieved one of two ways — a meditative yoga class, or a good old rant! I don’t even need anyone to be listening, I just need to vocalise my frustrations. Both cathartic in their own way,” says Lisa Stead, head of franchising.

“Setting boundaries on your office hours and leaving your phone/PC in the office – helps you to focus during the hours when you are working, and to allow yourself the time to enjoy the other aspects of your life — family, hobbies etc,” says Lynn Allen (franchise partner).

Q: What’s your advice on achieving a work-life balance?

A: “Seek out someone that can help you, direct you, and provide what’s required. Being in business does not mean you are alone, or you’ve failed if you ask for help. The sign of a strong businessperson is to know when to ask for help! And to surround yourself with knowledgeable people,” advises Liz Evans (franchise partner).

Louise Young

Head of marketing for Mathnasium

Q: What part of your job most excites you?

A: Weirdly, the analytics! When I first worked in marketing many years ago, it was near-impossible to attribute sales increases to specific marketing initiatives — broadly, yes, but not with any level of accuracy. Fast forward to 2022 and not only can we see which marketing channels are the most successful in driving traffic or generating leads, but for our latest back-to-school campaign, we will even be able to establish which of our new customers saw the TV ad we’re running. In marketing, you always have to justify your spend, so being able to attribute sales to activity accurately is an essential and something that I for one am surprisingly excited by!

Q: How do we learn from our mistakes?

A: I’ve been working in marketing for quite some time and thankfully the mistakes I made were early on. I once remember writing a script for a radio ad to promote an event at a major national venue. I forgot to include the date or time of the event! Thankfully I noticed before the ad was recorded and avoided an expensive mistake, but more importantly, it’s stayed with me and drives me to be that little bit more reflective than I perhaps otherwise would be.

Q: How do you stay motivated?

A: What I love about working in marketing is the variety of projects you are generally involved in. No two days are the same. The list of what you need to do never seems to diminish, but you have the chance to use your creativity, support others, juggle endless tasks large and small… and the days fly by. With the prominence of digital channels, results are more easily tracked so you can see the impact you’re having quickly, and that in itself is motivational. The job is never done and there’s always something you can improve next time. Is it motivational or just an inner competitiveness perhaps? Either way, win-win.

Natalia Shvarts

Franchise team director for Beyond Corporate Law

Q: What advice would you give to your teenage self?

A: “Be kind to yourself and learn to relax.” I am notoriously bad at taking time out – and my idea of relaxation is solving sudoku puzzles or wordle (which apparently does not qualify as taking a break!). It’s all about finding that perfect balance, but to do so you have to be intentional about your choices or it won’t happen!

Q: How do you stay motivated?

A: To be honest, I love what I do so motivation is not really an issue but my wellness coach really helps. It’s all about reviewing what is going well, what can be improved and what to focus on. Having these regular sessions means that I have to take responsibility for my own happiness and wellbeing and that certainly keeps me motivated. And the same goes for work – it’s about having a forward focus but learning from everything that got you to this point. The franchising world is so exciting and I think pretty unique in how experience and knowledge is shared across the different businesses. Being part of that is what keeps me going!

Q: What’s your advice for achieving a good work-life balance?

A: I believe that to achieve a true balance you have to be flexible. Work doesn’t always fit into nine to five and neither does life, but it’s the trying to fit it into the box and beating yourself up when it doesn’t fit that causes the stress. I plan my days carefully and always include one or two things per week that force me to finish work at a specific time (like my yoga class or tennis – so that I have to leave on time), but other days I allow the flexibility. In addition, having a separate phone, laptop and a separate dedicated home office have worked wonders for me because I can really focus on either work or home life and give each the attention that it deserves.

Ellie Cawdell

Puddle Ducks franchisee

Q: What industry do you work in and why did you decide to go into it?

A: I work in the leisure industry teaching children aged 0-10 to swim through the Puddle Ducks franchise. When my daughter was born, I was aware of the importance of water safety and enrolled in a local Puddle Ducks class. I was immediately impressed with the teaching methods, quality of equipment and content of the lessons. Not only did my daughter gain water confidence, but I also built up a great support network of fellow parents. When I began to consider becoming a franchisee, Puddle Ducks was the obvious choice. I had experienced it myself and I knew it was a tried and trusted brand.

Q: What’s your advice for achieving a good work-life balance?

A: Choose the right franchise! Puddle Ducks worked perfectly for me as I was able to start while my children were still pre-schoolers and flex my work around my desire to enjoy those precious years. My youngest child starting school provided the perfect opportunity to reassess my business goals and I decided that it was the perfect time to increase the capacity of my franchise and generate a larger income. I’ve built a great team around me which means I can still get plenty of quality time with my kids.

Q: What do you do when you don’t know the answer to something?

A: Research, research, research – that’s how I decided Puddle Ducks was the right franchise for me. If I want to know the answer to something I love nothing better than taking a deep dive into facts and stats! Being part of the Puddle Ducks family has also shown me the countless benefits of a franchise community. I love spending time with my fellow franchisees and quizzing them on their brand strategies.

Lynn Elliot

Director at Home Instead

Q: What are the highlights of your role?

A: Lynn has taken the model from strength to strength, building a hugely successful franchise that generates a £1m+ turnover. She is widely credited with building the brand and encouraging others to join the franchise and has won both company and industry recognition for her entrepreneurship. “I am passionate about caring for older people not only our clients but in the wider community, regularly organising events and educational activities. Equally important is my team, who are exceptional.”

Q: How do you keep motivated?

A: Lynn chose Home Instead as she was motivated by a desire to make a difference in the lives of older people, to allow them to remain at home, which is where they want to be.

“I have a real soft spot for ladies and gentlemen of a fine age. My own grandmother lived two decades with us at home from 83 to 103 years. I witnessed first-hand what positive later life looks like; contented ordinary days at home, where stress is low, and quality of life is high.”

Q: What’s a goal that you’re currently working towards?

A: “It’s very simple, taking Home Instead into more homes and changing the lives of older people for the better. This is why I continue to build my franchise and develop the team to be the best we can be.”

Enjoyed these interviews? Check out the full #LeadingTheChange campaign at thebfa.org

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