Andy Mee initially qualified as an accountant working in commerce. Upon qualifying he spent the following 8 years working both in finance and non-finance roles within Lex Service, during which time he gained an MBA from Cranfield.
In 1998 Andy joined Compass Group and continued working within finance becoming Finance Director of the Specialist Markets Division. In 2005 he become MD of Selecta UK and Ireland, which subsequently was sold into private equity in 2007. Andy continued to run the business for a further 5 years until October 2012.
It was Andy’s next job role which made him aware of franchising. “My last role was as MD of American Dry Cleaning Company (ADCC). I was aware of franchising from my time at ADCC as we looked into it as an option to grow our collection and delivery service”
After 30 years in corporate life, Andy decided to look into running his own business after leaving ADCC in January 2014. He wanted to build something for himself and have the personal freedom which is not always available within corporate business.
“Having made this decision I then looked into franchising and decided this was the best option. I decided to choose a franchise that played to my strengths and experience. The ‘consultancy’ type franchise was the most appropriate based on my past career. Once I had settled on this I then looked into the franchises available within this sector.”
Having carried out significant research into the different franchises available Andy chose Business Doctors because of the strong brand presence, the support available to franchisees, the culture in particular the collaborative nature and importantly the founders of the business.
Andy used his personal savings to invest in the Business Doctors Oxfordshire and North Buckinghamshire territory in May 2014. Having made this significant commitment he began the training programme. “The initial two stage training at Head Office and then the in-field support was excellent and provided early confirmation I had made the right choice.”
Important to the decision to take on the franchise was the support of his wife. Whilst she is not involved in the day to day running of the business she is a shareholder in the business and as such takes an active interest in the development of the business.
As with all new businesses, whether setting up on your own or investing in a franchise, there are many challenges in the early days. Running a franchise business is a whole new experience for most people and Andy is no exception. “The main challenge is the initial few months while you are establishing both the Business Doctors brand and your own personal brand in your territory. During this time you put in a tremendous amount of effort for little monetary reward. Maintaining your confidence during this period is important and focusing on the small successes you have rather than just the longer term goals helps.”
Unlike starting your own business, where you are largely on your own, investing in a franchise gives you support from day one. You have both the support of the franchisor and the existing franchisees, all who have experienced and overcome those initial challenges. “This is where the franchise approach is important as it provides you with the confidence you are doing things correctly and if you follow the franchise model then you will be successful.”
“Despite the early challenges there have also been many highs to running my own Business Doctors franchise. Interestingly it is the small things that provide the biggest sense of achievement, especially in the early days such as; successfully completing the training, attending your first network event, your first sales meeting, and your first successful seminar. Then you have the more exciting achievements; winning your first client, raising your first invoice and then getting paid!”
In November 2014 at the Business Doctors annual conference, Andy capped off his first six months by winning the New Franchisee of the Year award, which to date has been his most memorable so far.
Andy plans to build on his early success through growing the Business Doctors brand in his territory and continuing to contribute to the ongoing development of the franchise.
He would recommend considering franchising to anyone who is thinking about running their own business. He does have some advice though. “I have three pieces of advice to anyone considering investing in a franchise; firstly look at those franchises that play to your skills and experience, secondly do your due diligence but also make sure it is what you really want to do, it is both a head and heart decision, and thirdly, do follow the franchise model – That’s why you bought that franchise in the first place”