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  • Sep 21, 2015
  • British Franchise Association
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Finalists Focus: Young Franchisee of the Year 2015

Franchising is tailor-made for young people dreaming of starting a business. The support and experience of head office and other franchisees combines very well with the drive, energy and fresh ideas of younger entrepreneurs.

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But don’t take our word for it – here are three quite remarkable people who started a franchise in their 20s and are creating something that could see them set for life.

Tim Harris, Anytime Fitness

Tim had an interesting 2014. Aged 29 and married a few months earlier, by mid-summer he had launched his health club business; learned his wife was expecting twins; moved house; won an award for best new Anytime Fitness club; and been diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, which required open heart surgery!

It’s the sort of timeline a Hollywood production would be proud of and Tim’s come through it all with twin girls, a healthy heart and a thriving enterprise that he says is “one of my proudest achievements”.

AnytimeFitness_RTHe learned about the franchise after working in his local Anytime Fitness and developing a passion for the brand (which at the time was quite new to the UK). Signing up with a business partner, timing was destined to be stressful from the outset: eight weeks of building work and pre-sales started at the end of November 2013, meaning Tim was away from his new wife for 10-12 hours a day, six or seven days a week over the festive period.

Finding out on New Year’s Day that she was pregnant added extra pressure on the business to succeed; discovering it was twins necessitated moving house and an even faster start! Tim’s drive means it hasn’t slowed down since. The club more than reached its pre-opening target membership numbers and by the time he underwent heart surgery at the beginning of 2015 the business was flying, having been named best performing club under 12 months old at the Anytime Fitness conference last year.

Exactly 56 days after his mandated eight-week recuperation period, Tim was back in the gym lifting weights; he’s since completed the London to Brighton Bike Ride to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation. It’s going to take a lot more than heart surgery to knock him off his stride.

Snapon_RTRichard Swayne, Snap-on Tools

Richard was 26 years old when he joined one of the UK’s larger franchise networks, which features over 350 franchisees. He’s living proof that age is nothing but a number in franchising, having outrageous success: in 2014, in his first year, he was the No1 Snap-on franchisee in the country – with sales double that of the network average.

In 2015 he’s top of the standings again with turnover up over 21 percent and projections show he’ll soon be breaking £1m sales in a year, with a healthy profit margin.

He’s already paid off his initial business loan, taken on a member of staff and expanded into a second territory. He’s won a string of Snap-on awards for his performance to date. Oh, and in his first year he got married and moved house, and this year became the proud father to a baby boy!

Richard says that through franchising, he has been able to set up his lifestyle to suit his family. He works hard but on his own terms, with the flexibility to be there for his son. And he says he loves the give and take in franchising – learning from experienced franchisees and sharing his own thoughts at as many network events as possible.

He’s passionate about franchising for younger entrepreneurs: “I wish people knew more about franchising and the great opportunities it offers young people.” He says he doesn’t come from a family of business owners; he simply wanted more than a job and to be in control of his own destiny. His clever initiatives and encyclopaedic knowledge of his products and customers suggest he’s learned all-important lessons awfully quickly.

He found out about Snap-on by working for a franchisee for two years, after holding a series of different jobs upon leaving education. With plans to employ more youngsters himself and set them on the way to their own franchise, he’s leading by example and is set to inspire more young entrepreneurs-in-waiting.

WPA_RTDaniel Wade, WPA

This is the third time Dan’s been shortlisted for this award and given the stature he now holds at WPA, it’s incredible to think that he only turned 28 years old a couple of weeks ago. Since taking on his franchise aged just 21, he’s increased profits every year and his success has been such that he’s now also responsible for recruiting and launching new franchisees at WPA as well as providing guidance to existing ones…and he’s still the youngest franchisee in the network.

He values this mentoring role greatly because he recognises how much he benefited from one himself in his early days of business ownership. “I firmly believe that helping others inspires me to become a better franchisee,” he says.

And working with older, more experienced franchisees as he’s risen through regional and national positions with the franchisor, Dan’s left no room for doubt as to why he’s held in such high esteem.

As a WPA regional board member he more than doubled target growth and in his own business he has approximately doubled his customer numbers, turnover and profit levels in the last two years. He has more than triple the average number of customers for a WPA franchisee and has won a host of WPA awards, including highest growth for two years consecutively. Those are potent messages to take to the rest of the network.

Dan’s set to take on more staff over the next year and aims to raise thousands for a social enterprise, Beyond Food Foundation, which helps train people affected by homelessness to become chefs (he credits his stint as a chef with giving him exemplary work ethic and teamwork skills).

Between all these commitments, Dan still finds time to speak at franchising seminars and at last year’s bfa annual conference, in front of some of the most renowned names in the sector. Who knows where he’ll be by the time he’s too old to be eligible for this award?!

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