It's champagne all round at it'seeze Web Design in Hull, where franchisee Sarah Johnson has been named New Woman Franchisee of the Year 2019 in the national Encouraging Women Into Franchising (EWIF) awards.
Sarah, who invested in spoton.net's it'seeze website business with husband Nic just 18 months ago, says: “This is a win for me, for women in franchising and for women in IT.”
Sarah attributes her win to enthusiasm and energy, which drove a record-breaking performance.
“We were the only franchisees in spoton.net's ten-year history to sell 100 websites in year one,” says Sarah, 48, a former hairdresser and stay-at-home mum. Spoton.net's franchisees sell it'seeze website creation and maintenance services designed to suit the needs of small firms.
Sarah and Nic aimed to sell 50 websites in their first year, but early growth felt too slow. “We decided to push for more. With increased focus and determination, and with help from franchise head office, we sold 16 sites in January 2018 against a target of ten,” says Hull franchisee Sarah.
Success bred success. “At nearly 50 sites, we decided to go for 100, and by September 2018 we succeeded. I was asked to explain to spoton.net's annual franchisee conference how it was done.”
Sarah's secrets are networking, understanding clients' needs, and straightforward explanations. She meets potential clients at networking groups, explains the service and always follows up her contacts.
“My enthusiasm and belief in our service drives sales,” she says. “I never adopt the hard sell, and I always use everyday language. Too many people selling website services use jargon that business owners don't always understand.”
The spoton.net franchise head office has been key. “As a franchisee, you don't have to design or build the websites you sell – head office has a team of experts who do that, but it helps to understand how websites work and what options they offer clients. I knew little about it initially but spoton.net's training helped enormously.”
Only just over 15% of technology workers in the UK are female, but Sarah is unfazed by her minority status. “When I tell people that I sell websites, I can sometimes see the shock on their faces. Male web developers sometimes try to catch me out with technical questions but I can usually answer them. It's not that complicated!”
Sarah's message to women considering getting into the tech sector - or any other - with a franchise, is: “Don't be afraid. A well-chosen franchise can help you make a success of business - even as a woman in IT!”
Amy Cross-Webber, spoton marketing manager, who was also shortlisted for an EWIF award, says: “Our head of franchise leadership is a woman, our head office staff is 50% female and many of our franchisees employ women to assist with their workloads. We have four female franchisees and we hope to double that number this year - so women can feel sure of a welcome here.”