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Franchising and Armed Forces

Franchising and Armed Forces

I was a commissioned officer in the Royal Artillery before joining Right at Home. During my 17 years in the service I did tours of the Balkans and Iraq. Latterly my role was largely training and mentoring.

Name: Andrew Davis (42)

Location: Bournemouth and Poole

Franchise: Right at Home

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background in the armed forces

I was a commissioned officer in the Royal Artillery before joining Right at Home.  During my 17 years in the service I did tours of the Balkans and Iraq.  Latterly my role was largely training and mentoring.

Where did you first hear about franchising?  Was there a particular reason why you decided to buy a franchise?  What research did you undertake? And why did you choose your particular franchise?

I had a vague notion that I wanted to work for myself but I was realistic enough to know that I did not have any experience of business so I did not want to go it alone without support.  I looked at a tutoring business, a handyman service and recruitment consultancy franchise before deciding on Right at Home.  What impressed me about them was their in-depth understanding of the operation.  Also elderly care is a non-discretionary purchase which means there will be high demand for Right at Home’s services in the future.  Lastly I like working with teams of people and Right at Home provides this environment.

Many ex-servicemen and women go into franchising, why do you think this is? (Is it an easier transition back into civilian life?  Are there particular qualities and skills that makes those with a background in the armed forces suited to franchising?)

I think there are certain qualities like resilience which the military gives you but I also think there are some misconceptions out there such as military people can be a bit robotic and obey instructions without question.  If we are told to do something stupid we are taught to question it and prepare a better plan.

One of the best things I did was to attend the Advanced Management Achievement Course (AMAC) at the Manchester University Business School.  This really gave me a sound insight to the basics of business.

How did you raise the finance to fund your franchise?

I used my gratuity from the army and also took out a personal bank loan.

How did you find the transition from being on a salary to being self-employed?

It was not easy at first but now the franchise is generating decent revenues it has got a lot easier.  I think you have to have a vision of how the business could be successful and go for it despite any obstacles.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?

A lot of my time is spent building relationships in the local community with charities, church and community groups to get the message out there that Right at Home delivers high quality care consistently.  I also go out and deliver care to customers myself.  Some people think this is unusual but I believe it is important to understand what challenges the carers face first hand, to be seen by clients and sometimes I have to do it because there’s no one else available.

What challenges have you had to overcome as a franchisee?

My main challenge has been recruiting the right people.  The carers are at the core of my business and there is a limited supply of really good people.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so, how?

I would say I value money more as you are responsible for generating revenues and paying taxes and so forth.  On the plus side my working pattern is a lot more flexible so if I want to take time out to go and see my daughter in a school play I can do so without worrying as I am my own boss.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?  

I think it helps to look at a franchise as a medium to long term project; think in 5-10 year periods rather than 5-10 weeks.  Also be prepared to accept that the franchisee is not 100% your own.  You still have responsibilities to the franchisor and if you are not prepared to accept their input then franchising might not be for you.

Would you recommend franchising to other ex-servicemen or women?  And what’s your reason for this?

Yes I would – in the right business.  If you’re going into something that isn’t too heavily regulated, then you may be able to do it alone.  The margin for error in care work is vanishingly small so if you lack the personal experience, then you need help to set up.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking of buying a franchise, what would it be?

Speak to a variety of franchisees in the company you’re considering.  Make sure you hear from the superstars and the strugglers and that they share their key figures with you.

What are your plans for the future?

We want to grow the existing franchise in Bournemouth and we have just recently bought the neighbouring territory in Poole as many of our current clients already reside there and many of our staff live there also.

Would you do it again?

Yes, definitely. With the benefit of hindsight of course there are some things I would do differently, especially at the beginning; for example I wouldn’t take every bit of business I was offered just because I was so relieved to get it and I would be a bit more careful about where I spent money.


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