Name:Steve and Deb Swann
Location:Stoke On Trent
Date launched:October 2006
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing
prior to setting up your Northwood franchise
I had been part of the middle and senior management team at a
local ceramics manufacturing company here in Stoke on Trent and,
having been with the company for over 20 years I became frustrated
at decisions being made and my lack of control in certain
Deb had set up a new Government funded multi-agency team
working with schools, health and social service and the programme
was coming to an so we started to look at opportunities where we
could be in control.
Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did
you choose Northwood?
We looked at a variety of business opportunities but felt that
the franchise route would knock 5 years off the business plan and
would help us get established in the market place with a
We initially looked at the business, some franchises offer an
opportunity to be self-employed, and some franchise opportunities
are so reliant on the franchisor that if anything happened to them
your business would fold overnight.
We wanted a business that we were in control of, which we
could develop into a business that had a value, being able to build
the business at our pace with the support of the brand, the
training and the expertise of the franchisor.
We discounted many business’ on the route to our final
decision, the decision was not made in a particular sector of the
market but more from a point of could we make this business work,
could it become profitable and then is it a business that we felt
comfortable working in.
Northwood make you feel included and offer the qualities we
were looking for, we are invited on a variety of steering groups to
ensure that franchisee’s have an input in to the development of the
overall franchise system.
How did you raise the finance?
We had some savings but not a huge amount, cashed in ISA’s and
we had equity in our property. We were given assistance
putting the business plan together which we presented to the bank
who were happy to loan the rest against the business plan.
What training and support did you receive initially
The training was vitally important, at Northwood they train
you to a point that you are able to open then offer limitless
support ongoing. Ten years in and we still have occasion to
call up for a bit of advice or some legal support.
All of our team have attended basic training and are following
this up with ongoing personal development courses from webinars to
the much higher level of BTEC Level 4 Professional Diploma in
Residential Letting & Management.
What is a typical day for you as a
There is no typical day in this business which is what we
love. We are dealing with people and their homes however we are now
getting to a stage in our business where our position is more one
of directing our business as opposed to being involved in the day
to day tasks of the business.
What challenges have you faced?
It’s a business, it is not a till filling exercise, anyone
getting involved in a business may it be a franchise or not needs
to be aware there are going to be good days and bad, the difference
when it is your business the buck stops with you but on the flip
side it is your business, no one else’s.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so
Yes most definitely. As a business owner you have a
pride in what you are developing, the team you employ and the
clients you serve. A brand can be developed over many years
but can be destroyed very easily.
What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could
give someone looking to set up their first
Look at the business, is it a business? The team behind it,
can you work with them? Then follow the plan, don’t try to change
the shape of the wheel.
In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
Someone with a passion, the basics of business acumen and a
strength to succeed, in our case the support of each other with a
What are your plans for the future?
We have a structured business plan that we work towards, this
is flexible and moves with the growth of the company and the market
Would you do it again?
Yes but would probably have done it 5 or 10 years