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Women in Franchising

Women in Franchising

We profile some of the most influential and inspirational females in the industry.

Sarah Robertson, group operations director at TaxAssist Accountants

Sarah joined the TaxAssist Accountants board on September 1, 2004 and for 12 years was responsible for marketing strategy, brand development, shop fronts, practice management and business development strategies for its accountants.

In 2016 she was appointed group operations director and now has overall responsibility for the operational overview of the UK network, the recruitment of new franchisees and the TaxAssist Training Academy.

She has a vast working knowledge of the network and is focused on the future needs of the business, including the utilisation of technologies to improve practice performance and profitability.

Before joining TaxAssist, Sarah founded a successful brand agency, which had offices in Norwich and London and billings in excess of £4.5 million.

Pam Gordon, franchise consultant at The Franchising Centre

With a background in finance and business development, Pam began her franchising career 18 years ago with Carewatch Care Services as franchise development manager.

She went on to work in franchise recruitment and franchise support for Expense Reduction Analysts.

In 2006 she joined The Franchising Centre, working in a consultancy role until 2008, when she joined a client company, Prestige Nursing.

In 2014, Pam returned to The Franchising Centre, utilising her skills and passion for franchising to provide advice to existing businesses on franchising as a growth model and work with franchisors on franchisee recruitment strategy.

She’s also been a key speaker at British Franchise Association events and exhibitions for prospective franchisees and franchisors.

Julia Choudhury, corporate development director at Franchise Brands

Julia has over 25 years of commercial, finance and investment experience. She joined Franchise Brands in 2008 and has a particular focus on corporate development, which includes acquisitions.

Between 1997 and 2005 Julia held a number of senior management roles with AXA Investment Managers, including strategic development director, head of marketing, head of retail and latterly managing director of AXA Investment Manager’s UK operation.

Her early career was spent in corporate finance at BZW, predominantly in mergers and acquisitions and equity financing.

Between 1993 and 1997 she was product development manager and subsequently assistant director at BZW Investment Management.

Denise Hutton-Gosney, founder and managing director of Razzamataz

A former professional dancer, Denise set up Razzamataz so she could offer children the chance to experience all types of performing arts, not only to make them more rounded performers, but to also boost their confidence.

She set up several Razzamataz schools in Cumbria, Paisley, Dumfries and Galloway. As word spread, more and more students wanted to join. The only way to cater for them was to open more schools.

Initially her franchisees were dancer friends of hers who wanted more financial security and the career growth that comes from owning a theatre school.

The spotlight was shone on Razzamataz in 2007, when Denise appeared on Dragons’ Den and Duncan Bannatyne offered her the full investment she was asking for.

Cathryn Hayes, franchise director at Revive! Auto Innovations

Formerly head of franchising at HSBC and then the British Franchise Association’s head of business support, Cathryn has a high profile within the franchise industry, contributing regular articles to the franchise press and other business media, as well as presenting at bfa seminars, conferences and exhibitions.

Cathryn joined the board of Revive! UK in 2016 to help with its ambitious growth plans. The company operates in the auto repair industry, repairing minor damage to car and van paintwork through a network of franchisees and mobile technicians.

Revive! is a bfa full member and a previous winners of the award for franchisee support at the bfa HSBC Franchisor of the Year Awards.

Carol Stewart Gill, founder and chairman of Dublcheck

Motivated by the ambition to deliver excellence in customer service and care, Carol started her commercial cleaning business 25 years ago.

Through a combination of grit, determination and word of mouth, the company enjoyed significant success. Its first franchisees came on board in 1994. 
Between 1995 and 1998 another 20 franchisees were recruited.

Today Dublcheck has over 100 franchisees throughout the UK and was awarded 20th fastest growing private company in the UK by Virgin Fast Track and The Sunday Times. 

Carol says: “The system really works. Testimony to this is the fact we now have one of the highest contract retention rates in the industry.”

Lee Dancy, founder and managing director of Barking Mad Dog Care

It was Lee’s love for her Dalmatian, Bronte, and the lack of suitable care when she was away that sparked the idea for the now national leading dog sitting service, which was acquired by Franchise Brands in 2016.

Lee believes passionately about women in business and relishes the chance to further promote it. She works with schools, colleges, universities and potential business owners to promote and champion that: “Business can be fun, not humdrum.”

Lee adds: “I believe the success of today’s young entrepreneurs is linked to inspiring them to believe they can spend time doing something they are passionate about.”

Lee is also a non-executive director of the Pyjama Drama franchise network.

Carole Stubbs, franchise recruitment manager at Bluebird Care

Having worked in the banking, marketing and architectural design sectors, Carole started her own property business, specialising in sourcing accommodation for the medical profession. This grew successfully via the franchise model across the UK. 

Since selling the business, she’s provided consultancy services to many franchisors across a variety of industries.

Now working with Bluebird Care, Carole is keen to find “community spirited entrepreneurs” to operate under the brand. 

She says: “Understanding the importance of good recruitment, support and mentoring is key to building a successful network of business owners within any brand.

“A values driven business needs good calibre candidates who wish to operate a business replicating those values.  Therein lies the challenge of successful franchise recruitment.”

Emily Price, head of operations at the British Franchise Association

After gaining extensive experience within human resources at Barclaycard, Emily joined the British Franchise Association in 2013.

She effectively utilised her analytical skill set and passion for people in business to engage franchisors at all levels for three years in a business development manager capacity on the road.

In 2016 Emily moved into a strategic leadership role at the association and today is responsible for sales, membership recruitment, public relations and external relations.

She regularly contributes to the franchise media and is responsible for relationship management of high profile and international stakeholders.

Hannah Drury, Caremark

Thanks to her drive, ambition and soundly applied business skills, Hannah is the current British Franchise Association HSBC Franchisee of the Year and Young Franchisee of the Year.

She joined Caremark Sutton in 2014 to support the previous owner, her stepfather, during ill health. After his tragic death in October 2015, Hannah took over the business full-time.

Since then she has increased turnover and profits by over 70 per cent, built an excellent local reputation for the business and a loyal team of over 50 staff.

Hannah combines her commitment to the business with bringing up her two children, aged three and five, while continuing her studies for a psychology degree at the Open University.

Donna King, business development manager at Franchise Finance

In her role at Franchise Finance, Donna is responsible for building relationships with UK franchisors, with a view to supporting them with the growth and development of their networks.

Prior to joining Franchise Finance, Donna was a business development manager in the RBS franchise development team. Before that she worked in the RBS Corporate & Commercial arena, where she was responsible for the relationship management of both franchisor and franchisee connections.

It was during this time that Donna was an Outstanding Achiever Award winner four years running and the UK commercial nominee for the Chief Executive Award for Outstanding Achievement.

In May 2016 Donna was presented with the Encouraging Women into Franchising Service Provider of the Year Award.

Jo Stone and Tracy Townend, founders of Puddle Ducks

The winners of the 2017 Encouraging Women into Franchising Woman Franchisor of the year Award, Jo and Tracy launched children’s swimming lessons provider Puddle Ducks in 2008.

2016 saw investment in software, online, partnerships, technical programmes and staff all contributing to the success of the brand and improved profitability for franchisees.

Puddle Ducks also introduced minimum performance standards for both new and renewing franchisees to drive customer sales and ensure coverage throughout the network.

Jo says: “We think we won the award through a combination of some innovative projects coming to fruition and a brilliant team that’s helped us deliver several significant changes to not only our own business, but also to raise industry standards.”

Claire Slorach, TONI&GUY

Claire won the Overall Woman in Franchising prize at this year’s Encouraging Women into Franchising Awards, as well as the title of EWIF Woman Franchisee of the Year.

She took over the TONI&GUY Stockton Heath franchise in 2010. In 2016 the business achieved the second highest growth out of 257 TONI&GUY salons in the UK.

In addition, all three of the Stockton Heath assistants not only passed their NVQ qualification, but also came in the top five of over 100 students, with one assistant having the highest mark overall.

Claire says: “I’m dedicated to education for my teams. The foundation of our franchise has always been education and encouragement to always be learning and growing.”

Pam Bader, chief executive of Molly Maid UK

Before becoming chief executive of Molly Maid UK, Pam was a nursery school teacher and boutique owner.

She was awarded an OBE in July 1995 in recognition of her services to training in her capacity as a founder board director at her local TEC, Thames Valley Enterprise.

In December 1995, Pam became the first woman to be elected chair of the British Franchise Association. She was re-elected to the bfa board in 2011, prior to being made a companion of the trade body in 2014.

2013 saw her win the Encouraging Women into Franchising Outstanding Contribution Award for being an excellent ambassador and mentor for women considering entering the franchising industry.

Tamsin Brewis, Water Babies

The British Franchise Association Female Franchisee of the Year, Tamsin started her Water Babies franchise in 2004 when she wanted to do something that permitted her to spend time with her children as they were growing up.

She also recognised the importance of swimming as a life skill and was not happy with the local provision of lessons for young children.

Tamsin is involved in the development of the Water Babies swimming programme and recently become involved in the development of the Children’s Activities Association accreditation modules, an advisory paper for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Young Person.

In 2016 she was voted Water Babies Franchisee of the Year and currently works with the bfa on its retention and recruitment committee.

Shelly Sun, CEO and founder of BrightStar Group Holdings

In addition to leading the strategy for the BrightStar Care, BrightStar Senior Living & Memory Care and BrightStar Technology Group divisions, Shelly is charting the vision for complementary brands and services to help consumers care for their families and homes.

Her first book, Grow Smart, Risk Less - A Low-Capital Path to Multiplying Your Business through Franchising, discusses her journey as an emerging franchisor through significant growth, lessons learned and game changing ideas.

Shelly is also chairman of the International Franchise Association board of directors. The IFA is the world’s oldest and largest organisation representing franchising worldwide.

Members include franchise companies in over 300 different business format categories, franchisees and companies that support the industry.

Shweta Jhajharia, ActionCOACH

“Please stop. I don’t want to waste my time any further.”

This was Shweta’s fifth ActionCOACH prospect walking out on her. Having given up her career at Unilever in 2008, Shweta’s eyes welled up, as her dreams were fading away.

Fast forward to 2013 and a large bouquet of flowers with a note saying: 
‘My wife has been able to leave her job to take care of our young daughter and I no longer worry about providing for my family. Thank you for transforming our business.’

Shweta’s fifth prospect - now a client - had doubled his business.

She says: “That’s when the penny dropped and I sat down to redefine my business mission - creating better realities through business re-education.”

Anne Wainwright, McDonald’s

Anne has been a McDonald’s franchisee for nine years and operates six restaurants across Leeds and Wakefield.

She currently manages a team 600-strong, as well as supporting her community on a number of initiatives, including mentoring local business start-ups, coordinating various ‘Love Where You Live’ anti-litter campaigns and sponsoring local grass roots football clubs.

She took the plunge and became a McDonald’s franchisee in 2008 and hasn’t looked back since. As well as being active in the community, Anne regularly engages with the McDonald’s executive team to help shape strategic business decisions for the brand.

Her latest accomplishment was winning Franchisee of the Year at the 2016 Encouraging Women into Franchising Awards.

Nikki Haythorne, head of franchise recruitment at Chantry

Having cut her franchising teeth at Driver Hire working in a variety of roles, Nikki took the opportunity to go to the firm’s Perth, Australia office as a consultant.

Joining Pitman Training as franchise sales manager on her return to the UK, she took a central role in the brand’s nationwide growth, also supporting its international expansion.

Experienced in every aspect of franchisee recruitment, Nikki has long been a central figure at franchising events from her base in Yorkshire.

In 2017 she was shortlisted for Encouraging Women into Franchising’s Young Woman in Franchising Award and is now bringing her expertise to Chantry’s clients as the company’s head of franchise recruitment, working with franchisors to professionalise their processes.

Hayley Fenn, general manager at TREND Transformations

Hayley took over as general manager at Granite Transformations in May 2015 as it was about to embark on a major global rebrand to TREND Transformations.

The four-year roll-out will take the franchise network from a kitchen countertop replacement service to the source of affordable, luxury home makeovers.

Hayley’s background in corporate finance has driven new processes to streamline operations and business development.

Expanding into the bathroom market has added new demands, such as bringing in an in-house designer as well as strengthening marketing and field operations. These improvements have led to UK network sales increasing 10 per cent year on year.

Hayley is married to Nick and has two sons aged six and eight.


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