Good morning! It’s Small Business Chat update time, and today we have another third interview, from Jules White (was Jules Thomas) of The Last Hurdle. We last caught up with Jules in November 2012: when asked where she wanted to be in a year’s time, she replied, “In another year I hope to be very close to the successful completion of the Franchise pilots and have a fantastic working model, to accompany the extensive training programme and support packages. The proof is in the pudding!” So, how’s she doing with that plan …?
Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Yes and a bit further, I have 2 pilot Franchises running, both doing rather well, which is very encouraging. We are about to move into a much larger office to accommodate our much larger team. I am very pleased with our progress over the last 12 months.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
We have continued to grow over the last year, we now have a team of 8 business development specialists and we are looking forward to moving into our new headquarters in the next couple of weeks. We have signed contracts on a 1000 sq ft office in Towcester to incorporate the head office for the Franchisor company (Head Quarters) The Northampton Branch and one of our franchise offices. On a personal note, I am pleased to say I am expecting a new addition to The Last Hurdle in April, I have received comments that the baby will come out with a mobile phone and desk ready to join the team.
We have recently won our biggest contract to date with a letting franchise and I will be looking to duplicate this success with other franchises. We have already overachieved the targets I set for this financial year. Earlier this year, in March, our apprentice Ellie joined us and has been an absolute godsend. Ellie is due to complete her apprenticeship in the spring and I am already recruiting for another apprentice.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I am still on a huge learning curve and my biggest assets are the team around me. Learning to delegate when you are a bit of a control freak is not easy, as you can imagine, however, with a strong team (who at times are willing to wrestle work from me) I am confident that we can accomplish anything we aim for!
Any more hints and tips for people?
Surround yourself with positive influences, try to remove all negative influences as these have more effect than you might wish. Concentrate on the positives, you will find you will aim for what you focus on!
Consider the apprenticeship scheme, this is a great incentive for you to be able to train a member of staff to do things your way, whilst the training side of the qualification is carried out by the partner. Highly recommended.
Consistency is key to successful business development, don’t lose faith and KEEP GOING!
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
I have a lot of action points to complete in the next year, including:
- Continuing to build upon the success of the Northampton Franchise
- Writing our own NVQ courses, to develop our training programmes.
- Completing the pilot schemes with our two franchisees and honing the offering for full franchises until they are ready to market.
- Ensuring that all suppliers are secured (nearly completed) with performance agreements in place.
- Giving birth (obviously)
- And possibly sourcing a branch manager … I’ll let you know how I get on next year :o)
Wow – that’s a lot of achievement this year, with steady and planned growth achieving more than the planned targets – great stuff. I think we all have a lot to learn from the tight control but ability to expand that the company is experiencing. Jules also had this lovely comment to make about this series, reproduced with her permission: “This exercise is great! Really good to see what I wrote last year and the year before … I think I would probably still share if things were not so good, so keep sending them every year! A great project to be involved with.” It’s a lot of hard work publishing and following up these interviews, so it’s really, really lovely to get such feedback – thanks, Jules, and we’ll look forward to hearing your news next time around!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my new book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.