As we all know, many businesses were forced to cease trading during lockdown. However, not only did our existing Extra Help franchises continue to provide essential services, but we also recruited several new franchisees, who all recognise the value of a business that can provide its services at all times, even during a pandemic.
This week, we’re delighted to welcome Claire Rickson to our family and formally announce the launch of Extra Help Taunton, which also covers the surrounding areas, including Wellington, Minehead and Bridgwater.
Claire lives with her partner and is originally from London, but moved to Somerset in 2002. She then spent over 15 years working in Minehead with young adults with learning disabilities.
When the company Claire worked for was taken over, she decided to set up on her own as an independent home-helper, providing services in her local area.
Everything was going well until just over a year ago, when disaster struck.
“I was working upstairs in a client’s home when I suddenly lost my footing, fell down the stairs and badly injured my foot!” Claire explains, “I had to have a major operation to put my heel back in place. I was unable to walk without the use of crutches and had to use a wheelchair for longer distances during the year that followed.”
This devastating accident forced Claire to reassess her options, especially as she is now unable to stand for longer than an hour. She needed to earn an income but knew she could no longer do any physical work herself.
As Claire is an experienced home-helper, she knew she already had the necessary skills to run a home-help business. She decided look for a franchise because she felt the extra support she would receive in building her business and recruiting and managing staff would be useful.
An online search found Extra Help, and Claire was particularly attracted to it because of its similarity to the business she had been trying to build, prior to her accident.
Once Claire had shortlisted Extra Help, she spoke to a number of existing franchisees to make sure they were happy with their choice of franchise.
“One of the franchisees I spoke to was Nicky Joyce, the franchise owner in Torbay, who was lovely and so helpful, plus she did a great job of convincing me that now was a good time to start an Extra Help franchise,” says Claire, “I’m really happy that she’s since been assigned as my mentor and we’re only an hour or so away from each other, so can meet up occasionally.”
In another, unfortunate twist of fate, as soon as Claire signed up to become a franchisee, the entire country went into lockdown! However, this didn’t faze Claire, who has used the time efficiently to plan, organise leaflet drops and recruit home helpers. She visited all the local villages, doing leaflet drops and putting adverts on village noticeboards. She also arranged for her local newsagent to deliver leaflets to 700 homes.
“I’ve taken this approach because I’m well aware that the elderly don’t necessarily go on facebook and prefer to have something tangible that comes through the door and they can read and keep hold of,” she says.
Claire believes the franchisee support group on Facebook has been particularly useful for gaining ideas and inspiration.
“We’re all in the same boat really…we’ve all been in touch with each other, via the group, which has been brilliant for sharing ideas on how to drum up business. The group has been a lifesaver during this lockdown – another franchisee helped me resize artwork for my leaflets the other day and it’s the little things like this that make you feel like you’re not on your own. It really is like a family!” says Claire.
Claire is constantly thinking of innovative ways to promote her services, as she knows this is the key to building brand recognition and standing out from the competition.
“I’m intending to volunteer for one of our local, support groups that are helping people with shopping and meals during lockdown, in the hope that I may pick up some clients, who need the other services we offer, in the process. I also volunteered to do deliveries for our local farm shop, in exchange for including one of our leaflets in each delivery. I’m constantly trying to think of new ways to reach my potential customers.”
Claire’s advice to prospective franchisees is to try and look for an existing franchise to buy, rather than a brand-new territory, if you can afford it, so that the brand-building work has already been done for you. Failing that, concentrate your efforts on creative ways to get your name out there and build awareness.
“I’ve worked really hard to raise my profile in a new territory, where no one has ever heard of Extra Help before, but it’s what you have to do when you have a new business,” she says. “You just have to keep pushing and getting out there.”
We wish Claire all the luck in the world with her new business and look forward to reporting and celebrating her successes in the future.
If Claire’s story has inspired you and you’d like to find out more about the Extra Help franchise opportunity, visit https://www.extra-help.co.uk/franchise-opportunities/ or give us a call on 01604 532932 for a chat.