Barnstaple franchise: “Control over our future”
Mark Jones and Sharon Hunt launched their Barnstaple franchise in North Devon, in June 2018. Mark has sound advice for people looking at the franchise route.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying a franchise business?
I worked as a Software Developer, Application Support Analyst and IT Manager prior to semi-retiring in April 2017. My partner Sharon worked as an Administrator for a local College for over 20 years and gave that up to be a Bookkeeper two years ago.
Sharon and I have always been interested in running our own business and we came across Driving Miss Daisy®. It immediately grabbed our interest with the concept and how we could make a difference to people’s lives in our community. This would be personally rewarding as well as satisfying our ambition of running our own business.
Why did you go down the franchise route? What made you choose your industry? And why did you choose the Barnstaple franchise?
Initially, we were suspicious of franchises and were a bit sceptical until we had our initial talks with Driving Miss Daisy®. They reassured us that it would not be a case of handing over your money and then you get on with it; and that has definitely not been the case.
Early on, we spent a day at the Head Office being shown around and introduced to prominent members of staff which was really useful.
Never having run a business before we wanted the reassurance of the experience and know-how to rely on. We knew we could make use of all that advice and backing as well as the strong and growing brand. There are also all the ideas, processes and concepts to follow which are structured and easy to follow. Our part was to put the effort in and make it happen! We spoke to other franchisees who were successful and they provided support and advice as well.
Sharon and I know how many start-up businesses fail in their first year so we wanted to be part of something that was already a success. Choosing this industry and the Barnstaple franchise allows us to give something back to the community. It would be personally rewarding as well as providing us with an income.
We chose Driving Miss Daisy® because of the concept and strong brand and it was growing more successful. For us, this is an investment. We will grow it into something that will be truly a good proposition for someone else to take on when we retire.
How would you describe your day-to-day role as a franchisee?
Chief Cook and Bottle Washer! Basically, anything that needs doing needs to be done by either myself or my partner. This ranges from providing the actual services, i.e. driving and companionship, to pricing, marketing, administration, bookkeeping, booking jobs, leafletting, etc.
What challenges have you faced?
Making people aware of our service so marketing and networking.
We are not sales people so selling the brand was difficult to start with. Putting yourself into uncomfortable situations just has to be done to get the message out there.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Yes! We only get out what we put in and it’s all down to us. We try not to let it go too far but it does dominate our thinking nearly all the time; you have to make time for yourselves to give you a balance in your life. Our decisions with our Barnstaple franchise dictate our future and having that control is very satisfying as well as daunting at times.
What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?
Only take up a franchise if you know exactly what you can lose and you can cope with that. Don’t risk everything!
The Barnstaple franchise story can also be viewed in the flip-book, ‘Choosing to become a Driving Miss Daisy® Franchisee‘.
Further information can be read on our Business Opportunity page.