Episode 146: Buying a franchise and starting a business without starting from scratch – with Amie-Jo Buckland of Time For You Domestic Cleaning

What if you could start a business which you already knew would work?  A business that already has demand, already has customers and already has all the policies, procedures and processes laid out for you?  Welcome to the world of franchising.

“Time For You” franchise owner Amie-Jo Buckland explains the process of starting a business by buying a franchise, the costs involved and how much freedom you get as a franchise owner.

She talks about the relationship between franchise owner and franchisor, the benefits of buying a franchise rather than starting a business from scratch and the challenges you might face along the way.

Today’s guest

Amie-Jo Buckland of Time For You Domestic Cleaning

Website: Time For You Cleaning

Amie-Jo Buckland had a background in ealth and Social Care, but with two young children, she needed a career change that would work around her family life.

Starting off as a cleaner for Time For You Domestic Cleaning, Amie-Jo quickly saw the potential and opened up her own franchise becoming a business owner of Time For You Domestic Cleaning covering Biggleswade, Ware, Potters Bar and the surrounding areas in Hertfordshire, UK.

Time For You provides homes with honest, reliable, local cleaners to perform various tailored cleaning services including general housekeeping, ironing and laundry and has been featured on the BBC’s Working Lunch and Channel 4’s House Swap.

Amie-Jo prides herself on both providing prestigious services and excellent customer service whilst being a name that people can trust and having the flexibility to work around her family life.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • [4:14] The difference between running a cleaning franchise and working as a cleaner.
  • [5:11] The day-to-day of running a cleaning franchise.
  • [7:50] What a franchise is.
  • [8:36] The benefits to companies of expanding their businesses through franchises.
  • [9:22] What it means to buy a franchise.
  • [10:13] The benefits of owning your own franchise.
  • [11:50] The process of joining a franchise.
  • [15:20] The amount of support you get from your franchisor.
  • [16:17] What a business plan covers.
  • [17:26] Common fears and doubts when starting a franchise.
  • [19:00] What you get for your money when buying into a franchise.
  • [23:30] What the relationship between franchise owner and franchisor is like.
  • [25:26] How much freedom you get as a franchise owner.
  • [27:02] The advantages of buying a franchise instead of starting a business from scratch.
  • [28:03] The disadvantages of buying a franchise.
  • [29:50] The risk of others damaging your reputation.
  • [31:44] The different exit possibilities for franchise owners.
  • [33:55] The work-life balance owning a franchise gives you.
  • [33:15] The challenges of recruiting quality staff.
  • [36:23] How to find a franchise that works for you.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

Episode 146: Buying a franchise and starting a business without starting from scratch - with Amie-Jo Buckland of Time For You Domestic Cleaning

Jeremy Cline 0:00
How do you like the idea of starting a business where someone has demonstrated already that it's going to work? Someone has taken all the efforts to prove the concept. The demand is there, the customers are there, you don't even need to figure out the processes or the policies and procedures, because they're already in place as well. Sounds too good to be true? Well, welcome to the world of franchising. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:42
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the show where we're all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. If you want to know how you can enjoy a more satisfying and fulfilling working life, then you're in the right place. For many people, career change can involve starting your own business. You get to be your own boss, you can be more flexible with the hours you work, you can do more of the work you want to and so on. But starting a business can also be risky. One of the biggest risks being whether or not your concept or idea will work, or whether there's a demand for whatever product or service you'd like to offer. One way of minimising this risk is to buy into a business with a proven track record, by investing in a franchise. Someone else has done all the hard work, building the product and the brand, and now, they're looking to you to expand it. To tell us more about what it's like to buy a franchise, and whether it really is like buying a business in a box, I'm delighted this week to be joined by Amie-Jo Buckland, who owns a franchise of Time For You, which is a domestic cleaning business. Amie, welcome to the show.

Amie-Jo Buckland 1:46
Thank you so much. Jeremy.

Jeremy Cline 1:47
Do you want to start by introducing yourself and telling us a bit more about the business?

Amie-Jo Buckland 1:52
Absolutely. So, my name is Amie-Jo, and I am new to franchising. Why I say new? I'm about six months in now. It's gone so quickly. It feels about six days. I came about franchising, I was a health and social care worker for quite a few years, and I had children. And then, I suddenly found it really hard to manage my work-life balance. So, trying to fit in school runs, sports days, nativity plays, it was just feeling absolutely impossible. I had lots of mum guilt, was forking out quite a lot in childcare expenses, breakfast clubs, after school clubs, things like that. And just one day, I thought what am I going to do, this is the only thing I'm qualified in, and I had a bit of a panic. So, I wanted to invest more time into my children, and not just be absolutely riddled with the working mum guilt all of the time. So, I looked into other things I could do to work around my children, and I was feeling ever so lost, and I was just scrolling through job sites. And I saw a position for a part-time domestic cleaner. I thought, 'Oh, it's not exactly what I want to do, but I do want to be more focused on my children at the moment.' So, I went into the cleaning business. And I started for this very franchise that I now own as a cleaner, and I quickly learned the business model. And I thought, 'Wow, yeah, I think I could do this myself.' I've never ever thought about owning a business before, ever. It seems like a really daunting, overwhelming thing to do. But I saw how it was working, so like I said, I went in as a part-time cleaner, just so I could make the school runs, make the sports days, and I slowly wormed my way into the office, learned a bit more about how they worked, became the office manager, and I just thought I could do this, I could really do this. So, I began looking for opportunities to buy into the franchise, and one day, I saw that the area that I live in came up for sale as a franchise. And I just went for it, and haven't looked back since. I sort of fell into it, Jeremy.

Jeremy Cline 4:09
And so, what does running the business rather than being one of the cleaners look like on a day-to-day?

Amie-Jo Buckland 4:15
I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to start that side of the business as a cleaner, because it really helped me to understand firstly how hard they work, and it gave me the sort of rapport and the people skills to become a great manager. As a cleaner for a franchise, it was great for me, because the work was always there, the hours were there that I wanted. And I was so heavily respected as a cleaner, because I went in, obviously, from a health and social care background, and then, to be a cleaner it was a bit of a, not a step down but just not what I was used to doing. And just the way the business worked and how respected I was and how lovely the clients were and the management were, I just fell in love with it completely. And I thought, if I can do it this side, I want to do it the other side. I just went with it.

Jeremy Cline 5:07
And so, what does the other side look like? What does your day-to-day look like now?

Amie-Jo Buckland 5:11
It's as flexible as when I was a cleaner. So, when you start, you sort of state the hours that you're available, which for me looks like school hours. So, I started at about half past nine, and then finished around half past two. And honestly, I have stuck with that. At the moment, there are times where we get very busy, and I do, obviously, have to do the whole nine to five, but it is as flexible for me as when I was a cleaner. You really make it work for you. So, as much as I would organise my clients for the day as a cleaner, going from A to B, I could do a clean from half nine till half 11, and then from, I don't know, 12 to two, I still manage my diary like that, but now, it's just with meetings instead. So, it is very manageable. And on both sides, just the flexibility of it, it really works for me as a mum.

Jeremy Cline 6:05
And so, what are you doing in that time? You mentioned meetings, so who are you meeting, yeah, what are the sort of day-to-day jobs that you have to do as a franchise owner?

Amie-Jo Buckland 6:16
Day-to-day, I manage the cleaners, and I just make sure they're happy, their diaries are sorted for the week, they know what they're doing. I deal with any online inquiries, so a client looking for a cleaner would come to our website, put in a booking request, and then, I would book them in for a meeting, where I can either have a telephone call, a Zoom call, or visit the property, and we have a little chat about the business, how it works, the scope of work they're looking for. And I very much manage it as I would as a cleaner. So, I book slots for clients, if it's a more prestigious client who's maybe looking for a 10-hour clean week, we have lots of those, I'd make room for a much larger meeting. But we also have clients who would just like two hours a fortnight, so I'd put them in for a much smaller meeting. And I just manage it like that. So, we have a lot of telephone calls, a lot of meetings, a lot of cleaner interviews, but like I said, I can manage it on a timescale that works for me, so I know in advance, when I'm booking everyone in, okay, I'm going to drop the kids off at nine, schedule my first meeting for half past nine, and then, I'll be done by around three. And then, any admin, I can just do that in evenings.

Jeremy Cline 7:29
So, let's take a step back here and start with a few definitions and things like that. So, I'm sure that people have heard of franchises, but they're not necessarily quite sure what that actually means. So, if someone said, Amy, what is a franchise, how would you describe it or define it?

Amie-Jo Buckland 7:50
So, a franchise is usually an agreement granted by a business to allow other franchisees to trade under the business name. So, you're offering the same services and products as the parent business, the franchisor, but you're trading underneath their name. Which doesn't make it sound very flexible, but it is, because it's an established business, the brand and the name is already out there, but you're just taking on your area and making that your own.

Jeremy Cline 8:20
And what's in it for the franchisor, so the head company? I mean, why expand the business through franchisees, rather than the other ways that there might be to expand the business?

Amie-Jo Buckland 8:35
So, expansion of a business into other geographic regions would mean new premises, new staff, new equipment, and it's all very expensive. Franchising allows expansion of the business without all of that expense, and it usually results in a cash injection into the franchise. So, I have taken on the business within the franchise, and I will pay the franchisor a monthly fee for the business name, model, brand. So, I'm running a business that is mine, but they are gaining a monthly fee for that.

Jeremy Cline 9:15
And so, what does it actually mean to buy a franchise?

Amie-Jo Buckland 9:21
You have the right to trade under an established business name, but at the same time knowing that it is very much your business, one in which you're in control of the growth, and you develop it at a pace which is right for you. So, for me, I very much treat it as a marathon and not a sprint. As a mum, I am building it at my own pace. You could go in, and you could work from six in the morning till six at night, and you could have 100 clients in a month, but I've very much taken the approach that this is a lifestyle for me, and I am building it at a pace that's comfortable. I don't feel any pressure to sort of climb the mountain.

Jeremy Cline 10:03
You mentioned when you were on the cleaning side that you looked at it and thought, 'I could do this.' So, what was it about owning the franchise that appealed to you?

Amie-Jo Buckland 10:13
Again, it was the freedom of being able to work a business around my life. I think, when I became a mum, I panicked that suddenly I wouldn't be able to have a career. You choose between being the mum that goes to everything, or the mum that's always at work. And I just wanted the middle ground, I wanted the what you feel like is impossible. But it's not. And as a cleaner, I was asking all these questions to the franchisor at the time about how it works, and I was looking into the model. And I just thought that the way that we were working was exactly the same, apart from they're at the top, and I was at the bottom, because as a cleaner, I was managing my diary and my clients, and that's exactly what they're doing, just further up the line. And it was a bit of a dream at first, but the closer I got the franchisor, I sort of became envious of, okay, so you're at the top, and you're not actually doing any cleaning, but you've got all these clients who have nice clean houses, they were very happy, and you're able to do the school runs, and you're able to go to the nativity plays and sports days, and I just kept sort of digging around. And I thought this is something I could do. I'm doing it, I'm managing my diary, I'm managing my clients, the only difference is I'm cleaning, and they're not.

Jeremy Cline 11:35
So, when you decided to buy in or whatever it is, when you were looking to explore it, what does the process look like between a franchisor and a potential new franchisee?

Amie-Jo Buckland 11:49
I already had my foot in the door, so to say, because I knew the business owners. So, I sat down with them, and I said, 'How do I get into this? This is something that I'd really, really love to do." As much as I did really enjoy the cleaning, to be honest, and the relationships I was making with the clients. I just was envious, and I really wanted to get in myself. So, I spoke to the franchisor, and the process is, you have a meeting with Head Office, which you don't have to be a cleaner to have, if you're looking into franchising, you can find them through their website. So, you set up a meeting and the due diligence I had to take for myself was obtaining a police check, providing professional references, and then making a business plan, which was the route as to the best way for me to pay for my franchise. Also, I wanted to speak to various franchisees about their experiences. Because with a franchise, obviously, there are a lot of different areas, a lot of different businesses, and some will be doing absolutely amazingly, then there'll be others who aren't doing so amazingly. So, I spoke to lots of different people. I spoke to very, very successful franchisees, I spoke to newer franchisees, and I also spoke to solo franchisees, so people that were doing it on their own like I am. Because you'll find with a lot of businesses and franchises, people seem to do it in pairs, whether that be a business partnership or a marriage. So, I really spoke to all the different sorts of people that were doing this themselves. And then, you go on to research your demographics, because you want to make sure that you know your area, and you can get a feel for how successful you could be within that area. So, then I was looking at my potential target market, which involved me printing off lots of maps of lots of towns within my area that I was looking to buy, and then thinking who do I really want to target in these areas. So, once you've established that meeting and spoken to the other franchisees and really done your research on your area, there are different ways to pay for a franchise. So, you explore that as well. If your meeting goes well, and they're happy, and they feel like you are a person that they would like to go into business with, then you attend a two-day training course, which I really needed, because I was completely naive into owning a business. And that helps you with things like marketing, accounting, recruitment, all the essentials really of being a business owner. And after you've attended that training course, they go ahead and set up a website for you as well. So, you get lots and lots and lots of support and knowledge setting up, and then, they sort of take the stabilisers off, and off you go.

Jeremy Cline 14:36
So, you mentioned a couple of early aspects. So, you mentioned needing to prepare a business plan, the fact that you'd interviewed, you spoke to lots of other franchisees, you're doing some due diligence on the local area. Is that all stuff that you had to learn by yourself and you did off your own bat, or was there a process that the franchisor encouraged you to do? So, did they say, 'Okay, so these are some of the things that we think you should do, this is how you research your area, these are the people that we think you should speak to', was there that kind of support or was it literally just you deciding to do it yourself?

Amie-Jo Buckland 15:20
It was really heavily supported. This whole process, from start to where I am now and where I continue to be, it's really heavily supported. The franchise that I work within is international, so they're all over the world. I spoke to people in Australia, I spoke to people in Canada, I spoke to people in Scotland, I really wanted to get a feel of this franchise as a whole. And I was encouraged to do that. I was pointed in the direction of certain franchisees that they felt were similar to myself, so people with children, people that were doing it solo. These are not things that I had to do, they were things that were suggested to me to make sure that I was confident and fully educated on what I was about to enter into.

Jeremy Cline 16:05
And for those people who, many people wouldn't have really seen one of these, I mean, what does a business plan look like? I'm sure it's business specific, but what kind of stuff does it cover?

Amie-Jo Buckland 16:17
Honestly, everything. So, we get introduced to a two-day training course, where you're put into a hotel, and you do two days of intensive training. And on the first evening, you sit down with head office and other new franchisees, and everything that you need to know is in an Operations Manual. And I call this my Bible, because it has every single aspect of the business model and anything you would need to know within it. I still refer to it most days now. There's a lot to learn when going into any sort of business, legalities, things like that, that you wouldn't have necessarily thought of. I'm not from a business background, I'm very much from a people background, so a lot of my work was customer service based, I've never had to look into contracts and things like that. So, the business skills are very much taught to you. I hope I'm making sense here, Jeremy.

Jeremy Cline 17:15
As you were starting this process, so the initial meetings, the research, the two-day training, what sort of fears or doubts were going through your head? I'm sure there must have been some.

Amie-Jo Buckland 17:27
Absolutely. It's a big scary thing. I did doubt whether as a younger, solo, female franchisee I would be taken seriously. So, a lot of it was building confidence. You pick it up quite quickly, actually, just by talking to the other franchisees and their experiences. But my fear, yeah, was being a younger woman in business by herself, not really knowing what she was doing. But as I said, there was so much information and so many people to talk to and such heavy support, that those doubts soon did go away. I wasn't worried about being able to build a client base, because I was already working within a franchise, and I could see how quickly the client numbers were building up, I could see how successful it was, I really trusted in the business model. And when I joined as a cleaner, almost five years ago now, this was pre-pandemic, I joined to this before the pandemic, and it's survived COVID, and it has thrived since, so I thought, if this business model can survive a pandemic and financial crises, then it's a really solid business model. So, those sorts of fears that anyone would have coming into a business, they'd already been set at ease for me, because I'd seen the business survive and thrive as well.

Jeremy Cline 18:55
You talked about buying in, and I guess there's two possibilities, you're either buying a new area from the franchisor, or you're buying an existing franchise, so an existing business. So, where you're buying in from the franchisor themselves, what do you get for your money?

Amie-Jo Buckland 19:19
Okay, so you actually get quite a lot for your money. I was frequently checking the website for areas for sale. So, like you said, you can buy brand-new postcodes that have not been worked before. So, you go in with zero clients and zero cleaners, and you purchase those postcodes, and you build them up yourself. Or you can buy an existing franchise that's already had someone do the hard work, and you just take it over, and you continue to build it as well. I actually bought a mixture of postcodes that were not actively being used, and they were all merged together to make a brand-new franchise. So, the way that I did it was I walked into head office and I said, 'Okay, I've been a cleaner for you guys for four years, and I really, really, really want this. And I've noticed there are a few postcodes around me that aren't actively being used by a franchisee. How could I go about buying into this?' So, they said, 'Well, we merge all those postcodes together, and you'd be buying a brand-new franchise.' So, okay, how much money would I need to buy a brand-new franchise with no clients and no cleaners? What's the process? What do I do? So, you can either pay the lump sum in full, or for people like myself who were not in such a generous financial position, there was an option to finance. So, I chose the finance option, so I have bought a franchise, but I have a monthly repayment for that. So, although at the time I didn't have thousands of pounds in the bank, I was supported to get a finance deal, which is actually a really, really good way of doing it. I feel it's less scary if you're able to finance something, I think. A lot of people don't like to do it that way, but instead of me putting thousands of pounds down on something, I'm able to pay it as I build it. So, it was a perfect way for me to do it personally. So, within that agreement, I was given 25,000 leaflets, which I was able to design with a company that the franchise used. So, you make a design, and then the franchisor will approve it, because you are still working under their name. So, yeah, within my finance agreement, I got 25,000 leaflets, I got three months free marketing with Google Pay Per Click, we use a company called DBS, who create your website and help you with your website traffic, that's included for the first three months. You're introduced to a social media platform called Workplace, which is a bit like Facebook, and it has all of the international business owners on there, and you can talk about anything, anything at all, any questions I had, someone knew the answer to, because they're all in different stages of their journey. So, there'll be people that have been doing this for years, who are super successful, and are just a fountain of knowledge. And then, there's the newer people as well, that you can talk to, who are great, because they've got a brand-new, fresh pair of eyes. So, yes, you get a social media platform. And also, you don't pay a franchise fee until month four. So, a franchise fee, I'm sorry if I'm jumping ahead here, Jeremy, when you own a business, within a franchise, you pay the franchisor a monthly fee. It doesn't go up the more money you make, it's the same for everyone. So, if you're coming in brand new, you will pay the same as someone who's earning 400,000 pounds a year, it doesn't increase, which is great to know as well, because that could be quite off putting for some people.

Jeremy Cline 23:09
And then, what's the ongoing relationship like between franchisor and franchisee? And I'm sure this can be different, but I have heard stories of franchisees who bought into the franchise, and then basically they just kind of heard, 'Okay, so long. Good luck.' What's your experience been like?

Amie-Jo Buckland 23:29
Completely the opposite to that. I have an amazing relationship with the franchisor. He's brilliant, his name is Freddie. And he started off as a cleaner, just like me. And now, he owns, I think, almost 300 of these businesses. So, he is really heavily involved. There's not been anything that's ever happened where I haven't felt like I could pick up the phone and call Freddie. He's available Monday to Friday, it doesn't matter how small it is, I know that I can pick up the phone and speak with Freddie, he's the main guy. But then, we've also got a head office. So, I have a lady called Amanda, who checks in with me once a fortnight and just sees how I'm doing, asks about my progress, am I hitting any targets that I've set for myself, do I have any concerns, do I need any help, is there anything I need to discuss, and we have these one-on-one meetings once a fortnight, but if I need to speak to her more often than that, then I just drop an email or send a text or pick up the phone, and they always get back to us. So, I would say that the relationship for me is absolutely fantastic. And I think the relationship is there for anyone who wants it. If you want to be left alone to crack on and do what you're doing with your own business, then that's fine, but I know, anything I need, I can just pick up the phone and they're there. And obviously, I have these regular meetings with Amanda, which I always look forward to, to be honest, because there's always something that you want to chat about. It keeps you motivated as well to let them know just how well you're doing.

Jeremy Cline 25:09
You mentioned the operations manual. What areas are the which are defined in terms of what you have to do, this is the process you must follow, versus areas where you've got freedom as to how you do things?

Amie-Jo Buckland 25:26
It's generally quite free, to be honest. It's the only within the contracts that we have between ourselves and our clients that we really have to follow to the tee, it's the legality side of it. But that is all set up for you. Everything else, you pretty much do have freedom. I don't feel like there's anything I can't do. Today, for example, talking to you about the franchise, I don't need permission to do that, I am within my own rights, it's my business, it's my baby, I can do what I want. But when it comes to, like I said, contracts, legalities, I would be referring to my operations manual just to make sure that I am doing everything correctly. But as far as marketing, advertising, meeting people, I am very much free to do that however I wish to do so.

Jeremy Cline 26:21
And that's contracts with customers, also contracts with cleaners, do you have to be quite careful there as well?

Amie-Jo Buckland 26:27
Absolutely. So, we do follow a procedure with our cleaners. So, all of our cleaners are to be police checked and obtained to professional working references. I can't budge on that, if someone says to me, 'Oh, no, I don't want to do a police check', then I can't have them work for me. That's very much so in the operations manual. But apart from that, I would say there's a lot of freedom.

Jeremy Cline 26:53
What would you say are the advantages of buying a franchise versus just starting a new business from scratch?

Amie-Jo Buckland 27:01
Oh, well, when you're buying a franchise, you already have an established name, you have a proven business model that works, because it's working for lots of people all over the world, and you definitely get the feeling that you're not on your own, so it's not as overwhelming, it doesn't keep me awake at night, because like I said, I'm so heavily supported by the systems that are already in place for us. So, although the buck stops with me, it's up to me to get those clients, to get those cleaners, to keep everyone happy and to grow my business, it is an established name. We're trusted, and we're well known. And I'm lucky to carry that, and I'm proud to carry that. Whereas if I was starting off as just Amie-Jo Buckland's Domestic Cleaning Services, it would be a lot harder for me to get my name out there, to become recognised, it would take a lot longer to build that trust and rapport with other people.

Jeremy Cline 27:53
I'm sure it's not all rainbows and unicorns. So, what are some of the downsides or the disadvantages or the challenges, the difficulties?

Amie-Jo Buckland 28:02
For me, a disadvantage is the regular franchise fee. I don't think anyone likes to pay a franchise fee. It's not extortionate, but you do think, 'Oh, I've done all this hard work, and I've got to pay someone a fee.' Which, obviously, you wouldn't do if you were a business, but if I was just my own business started from scratch, I'd have loads of outgoings anyway. So, that's a disadvantage. Freedom to, for example, if you want to change your name, that's not easy. You can't just change your logo. And like with any business, it is very much down to me to work as hard as I can to make the money that I want to make to provide my children with the life that I want them to have. No one's doing that for me, that's still very much real, it's still very much a massive pressure. I would say there's not really many disadvantages. This is definitely the best thing for me. I wasn't very business savvy coming into this, and I do think I would have struggled to not have this network already sort of set out for me. It can be stressful, it can keep you awake at night. I think the biggest challenge is probably the people that you recruit. So, building yourself a real steady base of cleaners who you can rely on, who you know are going to do a great job and strive for those excellent standards that you really, really want, that's difficult. Because you don't know how amazing someone is until you've actually had them working for you for a while. So, I would say, yeah, recruitment is tricky, and the regular franchise fee isn't amazing, but they're the only two really disadvantages I can think of.

Jeremy Cline 29:47
I'm sure it hasn't been an issue in your franchise, but do you ever think about the risk of some senior executive in the company making some kind of media gaffe which affects the reputation as a whole? I'm sure that's not beyond the bounds of possibility. And is that something that you've ever thought about, had to consider, planned for what you might do if that happened?

Amie-Jo Buckland 30:10
So, I've had something similar come up. So, a lot of the review websites, if another franchise, it doesn't matter how far away they are, because we all share the same name, we're all Time For You, we're all Time For You Domestic Cleaning, if one of the other franchises gets a really bad review somewhere, that does impact heavily on all of us, because they will just say Time For You Domestic Cleaning. And there have been a few times on Google where I've seen a review that has left a bit of a bitter taste, and it's nothing to do with me, it's not even in my area, but it is frustrating when things go wrong for other people, and you can be tarred with that brush because you are sharing the name. But because we have this social media platform that we use, Workplace, we are able to talk about that with each other and encourage each other to do things slightly differently, to avoid these awful reviews. But yeah, that can be frustrating, I must admit.

Jeremy Cline 31:15
We spoke a bit about the two ways in, so buying a new franchise versus buying an existing one. Taking it up to the other end of the journey, presumably, franchisees go in considering that there might be an exit of some description, at some point, what options are there when you've decided, 'Okay, I'm done now, I want to retire or do something else'?

Amie-Jo Buckland 31:44
Okay, so an exit is the sale of your business. So, hopefully, an exit looks like a big profit for you. Because you've put all this time and investment into making your business successful and great, you own that business until it is sold. If I was to be done in a year, I would still be paying my franchise fee until my franchise was sold. So, I could sell it back to head office if they want to buy it back, or I could sell it to a new potential business owner. And I would value that business, with the help of the people who know what they're talking about, obviously. But yeah, so the exit is a sale, you sell it on to someone else, or you sell it back to head office.

Jeremy Cline 32:27
And how does it work if you sell it back to head office? Can you expect, for example, quite a big discount on what you might be able to sell it for?

Amie-Jo Buckland 32:35
So, there would be a fee to surrender early. So, we usually have five-year contracts. So, when you buy a franchise, you bought it for five years. So, if I want to sell that, I'm going to have to keep paying my franchise fee until the end of the five years, unless I can sell it. So, if I put it up for sale, and it didn't sell for five years, I would still be paying my franchise fee until my lease was up. Usually, I'm not too clued up on this, because I haven't got there yet, but I do know you can sell parts of your business as well. So, say I had an area within my franchise that I felt like I wasn't doing great in, I could sell that postcode back to head office, and they would buy it for X amount of money. And therefore, I would be making my business a little bit smaller and more manageable. And then, that postcode would be sold to maybe an existing franchise or made into a new franchise. So, I had a lot of odd postcodes in mind, which merged into one new franchise. So, yeah, you would either sell as a whole, or you could sell parts of your business back. But ultimately, once you've got that lease, that is your lease until you're able to sell, so that could be frustrating as well for some people.

Jeremy Cline 33:51
So, what for you is the best thing about owning a franchise?

Amie-Jo Buckland 33:56
Exactly why I came into it, and it is the work-life balance. I can't tell you how much I hated being committed to a nine to five job. I just felt so awful in half-terms, I was never doing anything with the children, they were always going off to childminders and to wraparound clubs, and I just didn't have the work-life satisfaction, and I just didn't see it as a thing that I would ever have. So, for me, being able to spend time with the children, not having the constant mum guilt, I can go on holiday whenever I want to go on holiday, because I just take my laptop with me, and I can do it from the sun lounger, I don't have to go into the office and work to someone else's timetable. And for me, it has been life changing, because as challenging as it has been, because you do have to work hard to keep your name out there, to build your brand, to get your clients, to secure a really good team of cleaners, as challenging as it is, it is so rewarding. I do feel like a great role model to my children as well, just because they're so proud of me, and they're quite heavily involved in it as well. My mum is a business owner. It's really nice, I love it.

Jeremy Cline 35:13
And what's the hardest thing?

Amie-Jo Buckland 35:15
Cleaner recruitment is quite difficult. It can be really frustrating when you're doing everything you can to just strive for excellence, and then, you've got people who are not quite on your wavelength, and they're letting you down. It doesn't matter how hard you're working, it is finding people who will carry that excellent reputation for me and will work as hard as I do. It can be really frustrating for cleaners to sometimes let you down, because it makes you look bad, but you just have to see past it and weed out the bad ones and water the good ones.

Jeremy Cline 35:54
I know that you got into this through having already worked for the franchise as a cleaner. If someone's listening to this and thinking, 'Well, I've kind of been thinking about starting my own business, this sounds like an interesting route, just the franchise route, but I have no idea what I'd do, what franchises there are, what you can buy into, it looks like day-to-day', where can you put someone to start if they want to look into this?

Amie-Jo Buckland 36:23
So, usually, when people are looking into franchising, they have an idea of which type of business they want to go into. So, I would definitely find your niche, what it is that you feel like you are going to enjoy and be passionate about. Because you do have to be passionate to build something like this. So, if you're looking into cleaning franchises, I would really recommend having a look, our website is timeforyou.uk/cleaning, have a look on there. There'll be lots of different areas for sale, there'll be lots of different areas with people that you can talk to, lots of information there. But definitely, find your niche, find what you're passionate about, and look into it from there. Because I knew that I wanted to go into cleaning, when I was scrolling through jobs, I knew cleaning, because I enjoyed doing it, I'm particularly house-proud, so I thought, 'I'm going to do something that works around the things that I'm going to enjoy.' I didn't just take a cleaning job for the sake of taking a cleaning job. I could have done anything. But it's something that I knew that I would enjoy. So, definitely, find your niche, and then go into it from there.

Jeremy Cline 37:34
And do you have any books, quotes, resources, which particularly have helped you on your journey, maybe the business nature or mindset nature or anything that you can recommend to other people?

Amie-Jo Buckland 37:48
As a female business owner, I would definitely recommend reading anything that Michelle Obama has written. She's really inspirational. It is hard to be taken seriously as a woman in business, especially if you're younger. Please, please, please read Michelle Obama's books, if you're thinking about doing this, and you don't feel brave enough to do it. Because there's some seriously inspiring stuff in there. I would also recommend, if you're into social media, there are a lot of networking profiles that you can look into, that are specifically for female business owners. Just reading their stories and speaking to people with similar experiences is great, because you think, okay, if this person can do it, then I definitely can. So, yeah, for me, if you're a young female, and you're doubting yourself, please don't. Go look for some powerful women, Michelle Obama especially, definitely.

Jeremy Cline 38:44
And if people want to get a hold of you, what's the best way that they can do that?

Amie-Jo Buckland 38:49
They could visit my website, timeforyou.cleaning/UK, type in your postcode, and my face and my number will pop up, you can give me a call. I'm very honest and real about how hard it is and how rewarding it is. I've never tricked someone into coming into this. When I first was looking to go into it, I did speak to a solo franchisee who was really brutal with me and said, 'Look, if you're not willing to work really hard, then this isn't going to work for you.' So, yeah, you can give me a call or an email from my website. I'd be happy to speak to anyone who's interested.

Jeremy Cline 39:22
Brilliant. As always, I'll put links in the show notes. But Amie, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and telling us your story. And well, you're six months in, I hope it goes well for the future.

Amie-Jo Buckland 39:34
Thank you so much, Jeremy, and thank you for having me. It's been lovely talking to you.

Jeremy Cline 39:39
Okay, hope you enjoyed the interview with Amie-Jo Buckland of Time For You. Running your own business isn't for everyone, and it's very different to having a salary job. But if it's something that does appeal, then buying into a franchise is a way in which you can shortcut an awful lot of that initial research and development and building up the concept phase. Plus, you've got potentially this inbuilt network of people who've been there, done that, and whose expertise you can call upon, as you're starting out and progress through your business ownership journey. And whilst I'm sure that all franchisors are different, as Amie said, most of them are going to want you to succeed and will help you to do that. Buying a franchise was something that I was, at one point, entertaining quite seriously. I looked into it, did a lot of research, ultimately decided it wasn't for me. But I can definitely see the appeal if you can find a franchise which works for you. The show notes page for this episode can be found at changeworklife.com/146, that's changeworklife.com/146 for 146. And that's the last episode of 2022. It feels like for most of us that we're finally putting the pandemic behind us. I'm not saying that COVID has gone away, or that it's not still affecting a lot of people, or that its aftereffects won't be felt for some time. But it does feel like the closest we've come to normality since the pandemic began in March 2020. What will 2023 bring? Who knows? As I record this, there's still a heck of a lot of uncertainty in the world around the economy and jobs and various geopolitical conflicts. But I'd like to leave you this year with a thought that there's an awful lot which is completely outside of your control, and it's focusing on the things that you can control that will make the difference for you in 2023. You can take the action better to enjoy your career, whether it's working on your own mindset, whether it's looking at a change of career, even whether it's about starting your own business, those sorts of things are completely within your control. Now, yes, that can be a little bit scary, because you might have some doubts about what's the right action for you to take. And that's one of the things that coaching can really help you with. If you want 2023 to be the year where you start taking action in relation to your career, and you want some help and accountability around those actions, you can find out how I might be able to help you at changeworklife.com/coaching, that's changeworklife.com/coaching. There, you can book a free introductory 30-minute call with me, where we can find out about each other and see how I might be able to help you. My diary is open for 2023, so I appreciate you might have better things to do for the next couple of weeks, but why not get it booked in for early in the new year? The website again for that is changeworklife.com/coaching. And if you want to hear from someone who has been coached by me, then make sure you subscribe to the show, because within two weeks' time, the first episode of 2023, I've got an interview with someone who has been coached by me. It's someone who gave up a very difficult and very prestigious career, one they needed a lot of training and a lot of qualifications for, but they gave it up and started again, went right back down to the bottom rung of the ladder. It's a really great interview, lots to learn, so make sure you have subscribed to the show, if you haven't already, and I can't wait to see you in 2023. In the meantime, happy holidays and Happy New Year. Cheers. Bye.

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