Bright & Beautiful has always attracted a hugely diverse range of people looking to set up their own domestic housekeeping franchise. My own experience of the long hours of a corporate career and many conversations with other working parents gave me great confidence that a highly professional franchise like ours would hold great appeal for people fed up with the stress of juggling demanding jobs and home life.
And so it proved, with women and men joining us from backgrounds as diverse as law, banking, marketing and retail. But where we have seen a real upsurge in interest in recent months is from people leaving or considering leaving a career in the services and the police force, with three police officers and a former naval officer now running their own highly successful Bright & Beautiful businesses.
We know that this is also a national trend in franchising with a growing number of ex-military personnel opting to start their own business when leaving the forces, rather than finding an office or corporate role.
There are many reasons for this. After a career – often several decades – spent in an exhilarating environment where each day is rarely the same and you are working as part of an equally enthusiastic and dedicated team, the prospect of a 9-to-5 stuck at a desk often doesn't appeal; but similarly the prospect of ‘going it alone’ and starting your own business can be overwhelming and often risky.
Making a Mark
One of our newest recruits who was looking for a new challenge that sat between the two extremes is Sue Mark, who has moved on from a 21-year career in the Royal Navy to run her own Bright & Beautiful franchise in Southampton. Having joined the Royal Navy in 1990, Sue was one of the first women in the UK to undertake the same training as her male colleagues.
She went on to reach the rank of chief petty officer and travelled all over the world, from the US, Canada, Japan and Australia to the Falkland Islands and Iceland. Sue left the Navy in 2012 through redundancy and decided upon Bright & Beautiful after being impressed by our high standards and ethical operations.
For Sue, the appeal of running a franchise included the challenge of both recruiting employees and clients and ensuring that the service she can offer is of the highest standard. Being her own boss also enables her to decide just how each day is structured and to set her own goals, something that is a step-change from working for a company.
What franchising offers entrepreneurs like Sue is the discipline, support and organisation of a life in the forces but combined with the challenge of becoming an entrepreneur. Starting any business can be scary but if you know that you have the support and backing of a team of people who have been there and made every mistake possible and worked a way out of them all, it is hugely reassuring.
And that’s not to mention your fellow franchisees. Something that all of our franchisees mention is the genuine warmth and welcome shown to them by their fellow business owners, from chatting on social media and local get-togethers to sharing best practice at our annual national conference.
And a recurring topic of conversation on all these channels and occasions is the benefits of being able to control our own diaries and managing the commitments of career and family, something that is hugely important to men and women with a career in the forces.
And that is exactly why I set up Bright & Beautiful in the first place – to offer an alternative, flexible and professional way of working and being your own boss.
Police, Franchise, Action!
That was exactly what appealed to Hampshire mum Sandra Reid who joined us last year after having enjoyed an illustrious 25-year career as a sergeant in the police force that included working on the London Olympics in 2012, joining 9,000 other officers to police the NATO conference in Wales last year and running a Prince’s Trust team program working with underprivileged young people.
Sandra had spotted us in Good Housekeeping magazine, in an article that featured me talking about how I had started my business on a budget, something Sandra herself had always aspired to but had never felt able to do. She then began to do her research into our growth, the company branding, the awards and the many stories of our individual franchisees.
For Sandra, the appeal was in recognising that we were a professional and ethical organisation that offered a lot of support in all areas of the business for franchisees.
Having run her franchise now for almost a year, Sandra loves being in charge of her own success and being her own boss. The thrill of winning new clients, building her customer base and team of housekeepers and utilising social media to grow the business and interest in it – as well as supporting local charities – have all helped her to create and build a great and thriving business.
So for anyone looking to retire or leave the forces, the franchise route really can be the ideal way to start that next, exciting chapter of your life – and it is one that you get to write from beginning to end!
Bright & Beautiful is an award-winning business model that was founded by entrepreneur Rachel Ray in 2007. A busy working mum herself, Rachel spotted a gap in the market for a domestic cleaning company that provided full fair employment rights for its team, non-toxic cleaning products and an exceptional housekeeping service for its clients. Since then the business has grown from strength to strength with franchisees around the UK employing carefully vetted professional housekeepers and servicing thousands of clients.
By Rachel Ray
Director, Bright & Beautiful