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  • Sep 23, 2015
  • British Franchise Association
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Olderpreneur Franchisee of the Year

Open to franchisees aged 55 or over, the three finalists in this category of the awards have proved the value of their experience in creating substantial and growing businesses – overcoming some incredible challenges along the way.

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Alongside a multi-site empire in the south-west are two women who have had to manage health and business issues concurrently, and done so with aplomb. It’s no wonder franchisors appreciate a skill set and maturity built up over many years when you consider what this trio continue to achieve.

Mike Guerin, McDonald’s

Mike operates 13 restaurants across Bristol and Wiltshire, employs around 1,000 people and is one of just two franchisees ever to be a double recipient of the McDonald’s ‘Three Legged Stool’ award in recognition of his success.

MCDIt’s a far cry from when he opened his first McDonald’s in 1992, selling everything he and he wife owned, packing a car and moving his family to Limerick in Ireland!

In 1996 he was on the move again and invested in four restaurants in Bristol, at the time making him one of the largest franchisee operations.

A fastidious focus on his staff and communities have maintained that position ever since. Mike’s worked tirelessly on behalf of his fellow franchisees and has grown his business at or above the network average each and every year, retaining the highest benchmarking from his franchisor.

Pioneering new initiatives has been a staple of his success. Launching an apprenticeship programme in 2008, Mike has seen over 175 complete the scheme and eight of his current managers came from his very first batch of apprentices. In 2006 he opened the first 24-hour McDonald’s in south-west England, and he was the first franchisee to have an outside play area.

Heavily involved with the local community, Mike regularly visits local schools to discuss business with GCSE & A-Level students; he sponsors local community youth football teams; and manages the local ‘Love Where You Live’ campaign. As chair of trustees, he raises around £100,000 every year for the Ronald McDonald House Bristol.

All that and he still finds time to lead various franchisee and strategy groups, something he’s done for many years. “Be enthusiastic – it rubs off!” he says. It’s a mantra he clearly lives by.

MetroRod_RTSue Caulfield, Metro Rod

Many entrepreneurs have to overcome adversity. Sue’s certainly taken on a lot more than her fair share in order to be where she is today.

Sue started the business with her husband in 1999 after returning to the UK from Germany, where she lived for seven years. Everything went well from the outset; they hired their first employee within the year and sustained, consistent growth led to the couple taking on a second territory in 2002. Over the next six years it developed into a strong, multi-van business with several employees.

But in 2008 Sue developed severe emphysema; entering hospital on Mother’s Day 2009, she underwent a double lung transplant and spent nearly five months in ICU. On her return she could barely walk from the house to the garden office.

When they divorced shortly after, the couple split the territories, forcing Sue on a steep learning curve to reorganise, restructure and learn all aspects of operations to run the business on her own.

Despite these challenges, Sue’s business has grown every year, including by almost 20% in the last year. She now employs nine staff with six vans, and has a projected turnover of nearly three-quarters-of-a-million pounds this year thanks to an incredible dedication and drive. “I’m blowed if I’m going to sit back and say ‘poor me’,” she says.

Over the next five to 10 years, Sue plans to have her daughter and son-in-law take an increasing role in the business as she steps back. After all, nobody can say she hasn’t earned the right to take things a little easier in the future!

PitmanTraining_RTFran Maclean, Pitman Training

Edinburgh-based Fran overcame a life-threatening accident to oversee a £1m turnover business with six Pitman Training centres across Scotland, employing 17 staff.

While on holiday in the Canary Islands in 2012, she fell 40ft down a cliff, leaving her with 10 broken bones, a punctured lung and damaged spleen.

Fran says her first thought after the fall was ‘How will the business continue?’! It’s characteristic of a focus that has continually taken her business into new areas and new heights.

Having started her business in 1987 when typewriters were the principal equipment, diversification has been critical to her success. Fran has been an early adopter in advances in technology, including taking on the latest developments from her franchisor in e-testing, online learning and digital marketing support.

She has also been a pioneer for a number of Pitman Training initiatives that have made a difference to the wider network. They include payment plans for students and flexible diploma courses; hers was also the first centre to host exams, which now accounts for around 10% of Pitman business nationally.

It’s no surprise that she is an inspiration to her fellow franchisees. Boasting the best conversion rate from enquiry to sale in the network, Fran has devised and refined her own sakes process and ‘10-point plan’. She contributes regularly to regional meetings, works closely with her franchisor on developing sales staff throughout the network and is a member of the Pitman Training Advisory Council.

So what has Fran learned while training others? “You never know what’s around the corner…and get good travel insurance!”

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