Elaine Anderson – case study

March 14, 2019

Elaine Anderson joined leading greeting card publisher and franchisor Card Connection in 2012 and took over the established territory of Glasgow and Fort William.

  • Name: Elaine Anderson
  • Location: Glasgow & Fort William
  • Franchise: Card Connection
  • Date: joined 2012

Elaine now delivers and merchandises Card Connection’s extensive range of high-quality greeting cards and accessories, such as wrap and gift bags, to retailers across the region.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying a franchise?

Before joining the Card Connection franchise network I was a contract manager for Skills Development Scotland and Scottish Enterprise for around 10 years before taking a break to re-evaluate options.

Why did you go down the franchise route? What made you choose your industry? And why your franchise?

A visit to the Franchise exhibition in Scotland sparked my interest in franchising and an advert in the local paper led me to the Card Connection opportunity which had become available. I was looking for a new challenge and Card Connection ticked all the boxes. The business offered a solid cash-flow opportunity and stunning products.

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I also liked the business model where Card Connection’s franchisees use a proven system to place quality greeting cards and gifts in retail outlets on a ‘consignment’ basis. This means the stock and display equipment are installed on free loan to the retailer. This is one step beyond ‘sale or return’ as Card Connection customers never have to buy the stock initially, only paying for what they sell. Card Connection’s award winning merchandising service provided to retailers by local franchisees has proved popular with retailers and supported franchisees in business for more than two decades.

The staff were friendly and helpful and this stood out too. The team have a good attitude and it is this support you need when starting out, not pressure.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

Training was thorough and took place at Card Connection’s head office in Farnham, Surrey. There was a full handover with the outgoing franchisee who was emigrating to Australia, so I could learn the ropes before taking over full-time.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?The Glasgow and Fort William territory is a mix of urban and some particularly rural areas and even includes several island locations. Driving through the scenery is a delight and I have got to see parts of Scotland I’ve never been to before! I also need to travel on a couple of ferries which is not a bad way to get to work! I have around 200 retail customers which I visit on a regular basis every four-six weeks. I visit between five and seven stores on a typical day to supply the new stock of greeting cards and refresh the displays.

What challenges have you faced?

Starting out was ‘hectic’ but in a good way! I can only compare it to expecting a child: you do all the research but nothing quite prepares you for the reality! Card Connection’s business model is simple, but there was still a lot to learn. The team have been tremendously supportive and really helped me get to grips with the franchise, so I could get up and running quickly.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life? If so how?

I am so pleased I chose Card Connection – the company and staff have been really good to deal with. I now manage my own business, it is completely different from any of my previous roles but I really enjoy the challenge.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?

Homework is essential! Research is great, but there is no substitute for spending time with a franchisee and seeing what they actually do on a daily basis.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?Organised people who are focused will make good franchisees. I think people who are over anxious may find self-employment challenging. Franchisees also need to be prepared to work really hard and be flexible. Often it is not a 9-5 job!

What are your plans for the future?

It is coming up to five years with Card Connection, so I plan to continue to build the business. I now work with my son and also have a part-time helper to pack the greetings cards. We will now focus on developing better quality stores which are of a certain size to maximise profits.

Would you do it all again?Yes! I researched many options before joining Card Connection but the franchise has definitely turned out to be the best choice for me.

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The power of Two!

March 14, 2019

Young entrepreneurs Shipra Mehta and Swati Bagwe are just two of Caremark’s thirty something clutch of franchisees who have recently joined the expanding UK network.

Shipra and Swati, friends and business partners, launched their Caremark home care business in Richmond-upon-Thames in January 2017 and started trading in May of that year. In less than 12th months, they have gone from a standing start exceeding performance targets to a business which is building a great reputation in their local community.

Their drive and determination to create a high quality locally based home care service was rewarded with two prestigious accolades from Caremark Limited at the company’s annual conference earlier this year: The Rising Star award and the Regional Award for top franchise in the south-central region, acknowledging their progress through the last year.

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Both women come from professional backgrounds, with Shipra having worked in the NHS and Swati within underwriting for a major insurance company. Despite their different career paths, their common denominator is their shared vision to create an outstanding business, delivering bespoke care and support to the vulnerable people in their local area.

Their young business has already attained recognition from Richmond Council as a provider of home care, as well as the council awarding one of their care workers with the Dignity in Care accolade.

The combined talents of both these young professionals is sure to stand them in good stead and will, no doubt, see them collect yet more gongs in the coming years.

With plans to extend their service to adults with learning disabilities, both Shipra and Swati are excited about their future and are looking forward to reaching out to different people in their community.

“I can certainly say, that now, a year on choosing a Caremark franchise has definitely been the best decision I have taken yet,” says Swati, a sentiment with which they both agree!

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One Woman’s Journey from Health Care to Social Care

March 13, 2019

Sharan Dhaliwal launched her Caremark (Cardiff & The Vale of Glamorgan) franchise after a career in the NHS, spanning 25 years.

Caremark Franchise UK. The former nurse, midwife and health visitor had a personal encounter of specialist care after her husband was involved in a road traffic accident, sustaining life-threatening injuries. He required around-the-clock, in-home care and Sharan witnessed the devastating impact of poor-quality support in the home.

“I soon realised that the quality and standard of care was generally poor when carers visited our home and I knew then I could do a better job. I spent a year doing research into the domiciliary care sector and decided to combine my background working for the NHS with the new business skills I had picked up whilst running my husband’s retail business. In September 2015, I made the leap from a career in the NHS to launching my Caremark franchise.”

Sharan’s business has gone from strength to strength, with two CIW regulatory inspections passed – Care Inspectorate Wales is the Welsh governing body which inspects and rates care providers, much like the Care Quality Commission – and an ever-expanding team of care workers joining her business on a regular basis.

Sharan puts much of her success down to the detailed planning and research conducted when initially considering the franchise opportunity.

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“I had a solid business plan to start with which I reviewed periodically. Plus, I determined simple critical business goals – you have to know where you are going before you get there. Building a successful business depends heavily on how well you work with and relate to others. I mainly listen more than I speak.

“The planning paid off and I exceeded my targets for growth in care hours set for the first year of business. I’ve also taken risks which I feel is key to building a successful business – for example, taking packages of care which are complex and having evidenced positive outcomes for my clients. We are one of the providers of choice with the Local Authority and have a good reputation.”

Sharan’s commitment to providing great quality care to vulnerable people living in her local community continues to drive her to grow the business further. She admits that, without her team, this wouldn’t be possible.

“I continue to foster a competent and caring team who apply Caremark’s aims and objectives in their everyday practice and it gives me great joy to see young care workers having lots of opportunities for progression within my business. In terms of personal achievements, I’m really thriving as a franchisee. I have some important short and long-term goals but, most importantly, I want to be an instrumental part of Caremark’s success.”

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Diamond Home Support – Top 100 Franchises

February 1, 2019

Diamond Home Support has been listed in the Elite ‘Top 100 Franchises’ for 2019.

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Managing Director, Andrew Watton said: “This is yet another recognition of what a superb opportunity Diamond Home Support is.

We are the lowest cost franchise on the list and that means you can get started in a top 100 franchise for less than £3,000! I encourage anyone looking to start a business in 2019 to talk to us about what we can offer.”

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