Running a hotel franchise

Interview with...

Ian Jamieson
Franchise name:
When bought:
Two years ago What tempted you to try franchising? 

Ian Jamieson: I had never been a franchisee before but I’d been aware of the concept for many years. I had worked in the corporate world for 10 years, and for the last couple I had been considering franchising as a way to have my own business. So I attended several franchise exhibitions and did a lot of research online.

I found that investing in a franchise would give me the chance to get some support in starting a business. There was always reservation for me about starting my own business, but a franchisor would help me find my way in. 

BFS: What are the benefits of franchising over starting as business?

IJ: Support is the main factor and investing in a company with a track record – you know it’s worked somewhere else. And also on a personal basis, you have somebody who you can just phone up most times of day to ask questions and bounce ideas off of. 

It’s certainly worth getting legal advice to get a spare and sometimes harsh set of eyes on the franchise document as it’s easy to get carried away otherwise. I recommend going to a lawyer with lots of franchise experience

BFS: Talk us through the franchise process…

IJ: I first went to the exhibitions. Once I got an idea of the different types of franchises available I narrowed my search to what interested me, which was something online and which I could do in Edinburgh. 

I then set up alerts on and kept an eye on those as they came in.’s leapt out at me as theirs was quite a different concept from other franchises. I contacted the franchisor and sent him some details.

He replied immediately and we had some conversations discussing the concept, what their track record was and my thoughts on what I was looking for. 

After official documents were sent through to me, I discussed it with my wife and sought legal advice, which I would recommend that anyone wanting to get into franchising should take.

It’s certainly worth it to get a spare and sometimes harsh set of eyes on the document as it’s easy to get carried away otherwise. I recommend going to a lawyer with lots of franchise experience.

I then negotiated the final contract with the franchisor, which was straightforward, and finally I paid my money for the franchise. 

BFS: What helped you make the final decision to move into franchising?

IJ: Going with your gut is hugely important. I had spent two to three years looking at franchises. I looked at a few and I liked the franchisor’s branding and attitude. He was friendly, not pushy, and very helpful. 

BFS: How did you use in the franchise process?

IJ: The alerts were great – because new franchise opportunities are being added all the time. I also spoke to a few agents to get advice but it didn’t suit me. I wasn’t sure if they were advising the franchisor or the franchisee. I had heard horror stories about people who had read a few manuals and set themselves up as consultants. So I suggest going with one with a good reputation if you do use an agent.

BFS: How important do you think franchising is to the British economy?

IJ: It is hugely important. This country runs on small- and medium-sized enterprises. Franchising is not always seen as very glamorous, perhaps because of some of the products and services that work well through the franchise model. 

But in the UK – where more and more people are unable to find jobs – I think it will only grow more popular. I’ve seen more people attending franchising events. 

BFS: How have you found the hotel industry so far?

IJ: I wasn’t involved in tourism prior to this – my history is online marketing – so it has been a huge eye-opener. There was no franchisee in Edinburgh but was successful in other destinations. Each city is different. We have offices in Glasgow, Seville and Moscow. 

Yet I have found the Edinburgh hotels market to be bigger than I had hoped – I believe it is only number two after London in the UK. There is such a huge range of accommodation from guesthouses to B&Bs through to hostel apartments, castles and boats! So we’re working out what our customers want when they come to Edinburgh. 

BFS: Do you have any advice for those thinking of entering the franchising world?

IJ: Go for a franchise with a proven track record. I was looking for a company that had been financially successful. 

It didn’t matter to the franchisor that I didn’t have previous tourism experience. If you can prove that you have been successful with what you’ve tried in the past then there’s no reason why a franchisor won’t see that. 

Lots of people can get stuck in the corporate world, like myself, thinking that they can only do one thing as that’s all their trained to do. But if you have the skills, ability and the determination to get out there and present yourself, then there’s no reason why you cannot succeed!