In this week’s blog, I’m happy to officially welcome Mark Phillips, our new franchisee for Wolverhampton, to the Extra Help family.
Mark lives in Sedgley, near Wolverhampton, and his new franchise covers Wolverhampton, Sedgley and Dudley. He lives with his partner, Sarah, and they have a three year old son called Hugo.
With a career in the fitness industry spanning twenty years, Mark is a qualified personal trainer and has primarily concentrated on working with older adults, organising fitness classes and healthy eating, exercise and wellbeing projects. When the country went into lockdown this year, Mark continued to train people, on a one-to-one basis, and manage his fitness website, MyHomeWorkout, which sells home equipment and merchandise and recently won the ‘Fitness Retailer of the Year – West Midlands’ award.
Over the years, Mark has enjoyed many successes throughout his career.
“One of my best clients lost six stone in twelve months!” he says, proudly, “I once organised a ‘Biggest Loser’ competition in Wolverhampton and created a Nintendo Wii course for the elderly, which was bought by the NHS. I’ve also been awarded lottery grants for five years in a row, via the Awards for All Scheme.”
As an enthusiastic, determined entrepreneur, Mark tried to start several businesses over the years, with varying degrees of success.
He says, “I longed to run a business that would focus on helping the elderly and complement my existing business. However, due to previous attempts, I know how hard it is to start a business from scratch and that’s why I turned to franchising.”
Mark started researching part-time franchises online, concentrating on management franchises that specifically worked with elderly people. He shortlisted five, potential franchises, one of which was Extra Help.
Mark eventually chose Extra Help because he was attracted by its flexibility and the range of services he could provide.
“I could see that Extra Help really fills a gap in the market, providing all those little but essential jobs that other businesses aren’t necessarily interested in,” says Mark.
After several discussions with Extra Help’s Head Office staff and existing franchisees, Mark decided to sign up but delayed the launch of his business until December, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He says that the process of becoming a franchisee was extremely seamless and, since attending online training, has received excellent support from the Extra Help team, including weekly, virtual meetings and the offer of further, face-to-face training, once the current restrictions are lifted.
Mark has recently been assigned a mentor, Denise Cooper, who is a highly experienced Extra Help franchisee. She has been in regular contact and Mark says he feels reassured, knowing she is there to advise him when needed. He also plans to meet up with Julie Vernon, the owner of Extra Help Telford & Wrekin, and hopes to build a positive working relationship with her as they are fairly local to each other.
Although Mark decided to delay the launch of his business, he was determined to do everything possible to ensure he was well prepared. As soon as he signed the franchise agreement, he began to advertise for home helpers.
“I’ve already recruited six home helpers and a dog walker,” he says, “Also, my brother-in-law is a handyman so I’ve brought him on board too!”
Initially, Mark has decided to focus on providing home help for the elderly, due to his extensive, past experience. Once this is established, he intends to promote cleaning, handyman and dog walking services more heavily.
As well as spending time on recruiting the right staff, Mark has been extremely busy marketing his business and planning future advertising, concentrating on the residential areas that are local to his home-helpers.
He says, “I’ve placed adverts in three magazine drops, which are currently going out to 30,000 homes, and 6,000 leaflets will be delivered within the next two weeks. I’m also advertising in the local newspaper in January. I’ve put in a lot of work now to ensure we can really hit the ground running at the beginning of next year. I’ve also arranged for branded polo shirts and ID badges to be produced for all staff, as I feel it’s important to promote the Extra Help brand in a professional and consistent manner”.
Mark subsequently launched his business on 1st December and has some valuable advice for potential, Extra Help franchisees.
“Firstly, you should choose a franchise that matches your lifestyle and ask yourself the right questions,” he says. “For example, is it a management franchise or is it more hands-on? Can you choose to work full / part time? Do you have the relevant skills to run this business? Are you genuinely interested in the business and the products or services it offers?”
Mark also advises to do as much planning as you can, prior to launch, as he believes preparation is the key to success and will give you the best springboard to start and grow your business.
If Mark’s story has inspired you and you think you’d make the ideal Extra Help franchisee, we’d love to hear from you. And remember, we’re currently running a special offer on franchise fees so, if you sign up before the end of the year, you’ll pay only £7,500 + VAT, saving you £2,500!
Give us a call on 01752 905790 for an initial chat or visit our website to find out more.