Jo and Lorna, franchisees of We Love Pets Farnham branch, tell us how the last 12 months have been.
“We didn’t want to go back to another office job when we could be running our own business and enjoying the outdoors.”
So, your decision for the better work life balance came after your employers announced redundancies, when did you first hear?
We both heard around July 2016, it was suspected it was going to happen.
At first it was scary, but we had always wanted to do something different with our working lives and if anything it pushed us more to get on and do something about it.
And now, can you believe you’re almost 12 months into your business already! Can you even remember how you felt before you started?
We both felt very excited and nervous all at the same time. Excited to be on a fresh new journey, doing something we both will benefit from mentally and physically.
How did you feel on the way to your first meeting with Jo?
Again, a little nervous and we did have our doubts, which I think is normal when you are looking into something like this, something so out of your comfort zone. Meeting Jo helped ease all of those feelings and it just became clear this was the right thing to do. Jo was extremely informative and helpful throughout the whole meeting.
We both came away feeling excited and ready to go. We had both made up our minds after the first meeting.
We did not want to go back to another office job when we could be running our own business and enjoying the outdoors.
What were your original goals with running your own branch of We Love Pets?
Our original goals were to have a better work life balance with a reasonable income, but always to enjoy what we do. Life can be so stressful; we didn’t want that anymore.
How many of those goals have been met?
We are pleased to say the reasonable income has come quicker than we thought! The work life balance we are still working on, but we are getting there and are now employing more staff to help with the new work we are receiving.
Reflecting on how you felt all those months ago, how do you both feel now?
We both feel extremely proud of ourselves and amazed at how quickly the business has built up.
And so you should!
What strengths does one have that leaves the other to concentrate on their strengths?
Lorna is good with numbers, hence why she covers the accounts and invoicing. This is a big help and it lets me focus on more of the management side with the staff. Something I had not done before, but with the support and guidance from Head Office I am thoroughly enjoying it.
As well as those roles, what other tasks do you share / take on individually?
We both cover bookings and new enquires, but as mentioned, Lorna deals with accounts and invoicing, while I look after recruitment and our marketing.
“I had previously looked into having my own dog business, but I knew we wouldn’t be where we are today without the franchise model behind us.”
Did you consider setting up your own business, without a franchise model behind you? Do you think it would’ve been any different if you had?
I had previously looked into having my own dog business, but I knew we wouldn’t be where we are today without the franchise model behind us.
There is so much to consider when you are running a business and going down a franchise route you get the support and back up needed. They’re always there when we need them.
What have you learnt since being in business?
Managing our own team has been our biggest learning curve. With so much information and support available from head office it’s been a lot easier than it would have been had we started this business alone.
How and when do you find time to relax?
We alternate taking a day off at weekends and also enjoy some evenings off, but there’s usually something that either needs our attention, or we want to give our attention to. The trouble is, it doesn’t feel like work, because it’s our own business, we enjoy seeing it grow and develop with the time we put in.
How’s the friendship been tested? If at all?
Our friendship has been tested a couple of times in our first year, but it has made it so much stronger. We want this business to be successful and we will not let it come between us or break us!
What would you do differently if you were just starting out again?
We would employ and invest in staff earlier to take the pressure off.
What qualities do you think are important to anyone considering a WLP franchise?
Being thoughtful, go the extra mile for your customers, enjoy talking to people, a genuine animal lover, lots of trust and honesty.
Work / balance life is what we are focusing on now so we can sit back a little and manage the business more. We would also like to expand our business by taking on another territory, so watch this space!
Thinking about some of the initial fears or anxieties you had, what would you say to anyone else experiencing those now?
I would say go and meet Jo and do your research they will soon disappear! And, come and see us at work, we’d love to meet you!
Jo and Lorna