Lee Freeman, who joined Auditel in March 2010, tells FranchiseSales how he’s getting on owning a finance franchise.
Lee had qualified as a chartered accountant with Grant Thornton in 1992 and stayed for a further six years; senior financial roles followed with listed PLC’, including working for Informa for five years.
Lee then became a financial director for an investment group in Luxembourg, returning to England just as the recession was beginning.
FS Blog: Why did you go down the franchise route?
Lee Freeman: Back in the UK, looking for a senior role, I became increasingly frustrated at the lack of opportunities. Not wanting to start from scratch in the recession, I looked at both franchising and buying an existing business.
I concluded that franchising gave the benefit of running my own business while having the support of a network. I wanted to use my past experience and skill set.
I came across Auditel at an exhibition and had a long chat with a member of the team. At one of their discovery days and after subsequent meetings I liked what I heard. I decided that Auditel ticked all the boxes and that this was the way forward.
FS Blog: How did you raise the finance?
Lee: To supplement my capital I secured a five-year term loan from a major bank recommended by Auditel.
FS Blog: Tell us more about the training and support Auditel provide…
Lee: The instruction I received from Auditel has been first rate, from the client acquisition training through to the technical side. Ongoing support is always available from Auditel’s head office support team and fellow franchisees.
Auditel’s systems have proved invaluable in starting a business from scratch. They allow me to concentrate on finding clients, secure in the knowledge that you can meet their needs.
FS Blog: How did you find the start up process?
Lee: With minimal experience of sales, my main challenges relate to establishing my name in the local business community and selling the service I now provide. I believe I am getting better.
It was also important to sign the first client relatively quickly. This I achieved with a listed PLC where the group financial director is a good contact from previous roles. The other key challenge is becoming used to being my own boss, and working from home.
FS Blog: Tell us more about your progress in the marketplace…
Lee: I can say that this is one of the most enjoyable three months I have spent in any work environment ever! Signing my first client and completing a successful project has certainly given the business some early impetus.
The key now is to maintain that and keep the pipeline of prospects full. It has been hard work but at the end of the day, the rewards are for myself and my family.
FS Blog: What are your plans for the future?
Lee: In the next year or so I would like my wife to join the business, using her sales background to drive the business forward even further. The aim is to be debt free by the end of my first term, both from a personal and business viewpoint.
I see myself in this franchise for the long term, renewing my agreement at least once if not twice, before winding down to retirement and hopefully handing the business over to a family member.
FS Blog: What is your advice for someone buying their first franchise?
Lee: Do it, it’s certainly the best decision I have made! But do so with the knowledge that it is hard work. The success of the business is directly related to the amount of effort that you put in.