Carl Windsor brought to the Auditel franchise a wealth of experience in management from the quarrying and coated roadstone industries, and in warehousing, logistics and supply chain management roles in the electronic distribution industry.
His wife, Bev, a trained nurse, arrived from the health and social care sector.
The Windsors manage to juggle running the business with raising children.
Adam Bannister: So, Carl, what made you buy a franchise?
Carl Windsor: It’s a tried and tested method of starting your own business with much less risk than going it alone.
Having the comfort and confidence that systems and procedures were there from the start and having quality help and support behind us made it an extremely attractive proposition – a ‘business in a box’, so to speak.
Some difficulty was encountered raising funds due to liquidity problems at the banks, but they did come through, although I’m not so sure they would have supported a start-up to the same extent
AB: How did you raise the finance?
CW: Finance was raised via a business bank loan, which was relatively straightforward as the banking sector recognises the reduced risk from franchise businesses and is keen to lend against this type of business.
Some difficulty was encountered due to liquidity problems at the banks, but they did come through, although I’m not so sure that they would have supported a start-up to the same extent.
AB: How much training and support did you receive?
CW: It’s been absolutely outstanding. A very comprehensive and intensive week at head office on sales marketing and client acquisition was followed three weeks later by a technical training week with a similar level of intensity and thoroughness.
Of course this does not, and cannot, cover the broad spectrum of circumstances you can come across but it does give you the confidence to go out there and begin building your business with aplomb.
The support staff, intranet and the network itself are all great support tools and they all work together to give a rich and varied perspective on any challenges that you encounter.
AB: What were the toughest challenges you faced?
CW: There are many challenges in beginning, especially if the discipline is new to you. You can’t escape the fact that it’s a very steep learning curve and almost everything seems a challenge at first, even down to getting to grips with industry terminology and acronyms.
Most things are easily overcome and if you ask the right questions, to the right people, at the right time, everything slowly becomes clearer.
AB: Tell me about your progress in the marketplace so far...
CW: We’ve been operating for five months and have made some excellent progress. We’re roughly in line with our budget projections both from a client acquisition and expenditure point of view and can see an order book beginning to build.
It’s a little early to have produced an invoice, but this is imminent and will mark another milestone.
The opportunities that have presented themselves are nothing short of astounding and the potential to develop and grow the business is limitless.
One gem of a find appears to be a miscategorised surface water charge for a small charity client that looks as if it will bring them a substantial rebate.
AB: What’s your long-term plan for the business?
CW: We have big plans to market and grow our business to develop a multi-disciplined office of professional people and become a centre of excellence in the network for all core disciplines.
We’re also working towards bringing his expertise in freight and logistics to the network to provide a new area of opportunity for both colleagues and clients.
AB: Any advice for aspirant franchisees?
CW: Investigate thoroughly and carry out prudent due diligence, ensure the franchisor is a full member of the BFA and make sure you get a ‘good feel’ from your shortlist of chosen franchises, but above all follow your gut instinct – it’s seldom wrong.