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Special Feature Greensleeves


Jamie (28) and Lesley Clark (32), run the Doncaster branch of Greensleeves, a lawn treatment business. Although it’s early days for the couple, who have been operating for less than a year, they are already enjoying the feeling of working towards a shared future together, as Jamie explains.


Why, as a couple, did you decide to take on a franchise together? We wanted to build a long-lasting future together. In today’s economic climate, we wanted to run a business, rather than be employed within a business we had no control over. It was important that we could shape our future rather than have someone do it for us. We have always aspired to run a business together and with the help, support and advice offered by Greensleeves, this franchise was our ideal.


How did you first hear of Greensleeves and how did you become involved? We found them on the internet. We were completely new to the industry, their business model appealed to us and they seemed very experienced. Managing director, David Truby, and director, Phil Paddock, are extremely knowledgeable and personable. They were extremely open with us and showed us some great figures from the other franchisees. Lesley and I could see ourselves working with them and also the massive potential a franchise could have. One of the main points of our criteria, as we were inexperienced in this field, was that we wanted to feel comfortable with whoever we took a franchise from and David and Phil really hit the mark.


Did you find that you could combine your strengths/talents to make the business work? Lesley has a career in sales and marketing, and I pride myself on having a very strong customer-service sales background. So together with Lesley’s organisational and administration skills and my thick skin – I’m used to the odd door being shut in my face! – we fit well together, as our skills are complementary.


Did you face any challenges in the beginning? We took on an existing franchise so we had to learn how to run a business quickly, which was a big step; overnight we became the owners of a fully operational business. However, I can’t recommend Greensleeves highly enough, they supported us from day one, they were flexible and helped us iron out the initial teething problems we encountered. Their support was round the clock and it was imperative to a smooth switch over, with minimal impact on existing customers. The initial training provided was fantastic, and they are always on the end of the phone for any day- to-day questions I fire their way! Without them, we couldn’t have made it work. They treat us with the same respect we treat our customers and they always go the extra mile. The product itself works really well, we’re very happy and really pleased we decided to join Greensleeves.


Has the business enhanced your relationship? It’s definitely enhanced our relationship; we are now more of a team with a joint focus. Yes, we talk about work in the evenings and in our down time but we still ensure we have quality time away from the business but as at the moment it is early days, this tends to be when the business dictates, not when we wish!


Has your life changed for the better? The job is very fulfilling. I love doing the work, it’s relaxing and a big improvement on my previous office-based roles. I have always enjoyed gardening and the outdoors. It’s hard to switch off but the fact that we are enjoying it so much and the challenges and triumphs it throws our way, we feel we don’t always want to switch off! We now feel we have control of our business and therefore we are able to play the hand in shaping our future. The harder we work the more benefits we will reap. We can see the massive potential and intend to achieve it.


Granite Transformations


What was your background before taking on a franchise together? We had always worked as a couple so franchising was a logical step. We originally met on a cruise ship (Sally was a beautician and Gavin was a photographer).


Then we worked on a private yacht together, which was glamorous, as we met lots of the rich and famous. Then we set off for America, to set up a franchise, but couldn’t decide on a business model so went on to Australia and then back to England. We bought out the director of Granite Transformations, who had set it up in Australia, and set up the first UK Granite Transformations franchise. We just fell in love with the product.


How easy was it to set up the franchise? It was easy but a lot of hard work. As a couple, we lived and breathed the company, which was hard as we had a two-year-old son to look after. But it helped that we’ve always been on the same wavelength and had always worked together. Plus we are both passionate about the product. It was a steep learning curve as there was no precedent, we were the first franchisees. We have seen the company flourish over the years. Our biggest asset is our staff – we are like one big family. Very few leave us and we have someone still with us who joined from the start. They are a great crew whom we can trust to run things whenever we’re not around. Plus it’s a real family affair as Gavin’s sister works the odd days and covers for us when we’re away.


You’ve had an interesting life so far – so what skills have you brought to the business?


Gavin worked in telesales and so adapted those skills. A third of our business comes from referrals and we have a 9.9 out of 10 feedback rating. He’s also great with people and we relate to all walks of life. We have a rapport with everyone. We have also learned everything, from accountancy and payroll, through to managing 13 people.


Gavin Whittaker, 44, and Sally, 47, were the first couple in the UK to own and run a Granite Transformations franchise. Here they look back over 10 years of running their Wadhurst-based business and how it has strengthened their relationship.


What are the advantages of working with your spouse? The freedom. If our son is at a rugby game, we can take time off to see him play. We can schedule life round our business so we always have quality time together. We always book the next holiday as soon as we come back from the last one and enjoy the odd weekend away. We support each other and play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You do take your work home, though. But we’re both passionate and enthusiastic and people can see that. Along with the staff, we’re a team and there’s no hierarchy. n


May 2012 | Businessfranchise.com | 35


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