Like many couples in their late 50s and early 60s, Paula and Nick, would like to retire and travel the world, but they need to build up their savings and pension pot first.
Nick, formerly in the Royal Army Medical Corps and currently in medical sales, and Paula, who has worked in procurement roles for 25 years, however, have a cunning plan.
Invest in a franchise, build up their agency alongside their current careers and then retire doing something fun that enables them to travel more and still earn an income.
“There are a lot of people our age retiring at the moment and we’d like to be in a position where we can retire, run a business, have an income and enjoy what we do,” says Paula.
“We love travelling and scuba diving so we thought why not do something we love in our spare time while looking after our pension.”
Nick and Paula’s plan was sadly kick-started by tragic circumstances.
“About five-and-a-half years ago I was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer,” says Nick, who was self employed and working in London at the time he was diagnosed.
“You don’t get a lot of assistance when you run your own business. We went through a difficult time.
“Our nest egg dwindled away during treatment as I was not able to work. It was a turning point in our life.
“We knew we needed to top up our retirement and pension fund and we thought why not something we are really passionate about?
“After all, if you have a laptop and wifi you can do this job from a beach.”
Nick and Paula had formerly joined another travel franchise but found the company limiting in terms of the number of holidays they were able to sell.
“When we saw that The Travel Franchise and its customer-facing brand Not Just Travel has access to over 450 travel companies as opposed to around 40, we knew we could make it a serious business,” says Nick.
Indeed, the couple are now booking an impressive array of holidays in their spare time ranging from Lapland and Christmas market breaks to a Formula One holiday and a dog-friendly cottage in the UK.
They are also currently pricing up a holiday driving around the US in a convertible Mustang and a P&O booking for a group of six guys who want to take their MX5 cars to Germany to race on the infamous Nürburgring race track.
The couple, who finished training on Valentines Day in 2022, have found their transition to travel consultants surprisingly smooth and are impressed with the training and support they have been given every step of the way.
“Some of the other franchisees we did training with work as full-time consultants and they are flying,” says Nick who is pleased with their bookings so far, mostly sourced online and through BNI as well as old acquaintances and referrals.
“We work in our spare time so are happy with the steady flow and are beginning to benefit from repeat business.”
For most consultants, repeat business is key. As the majority of people take an average of 2.5 holidays a year, repeat clients can triple your business without looking for new customers.
The couple continue to train online and build their knowledge of suppliers and holiday destinations, although they already have considerable experience of numerous dive locations.
“We have dived Egypt’s Red Sea, the Caribbean (St Lucia, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica), the Maldives, Mexico and Indonesia,” says Nick who has dived with giant mantas, seals, dolphins, and six different types of sharks on one trip.
“Even though I had stage 3 lung cancer and one lobe on my left lung removed plus chemo in November 2017, I was still diving 10 months post op,” says Nick, who has now remained healthy for five years.
The couple are now planning a trip to South Africa to see great white sharks and are keen to promote more sustainable holidays.
So have they (forgive the pun) bitten off more than they can chew, working full time and being consultants in their spare time?
“At times it is crazy. We make bookings in our lunchtimes, evenings and weekends. It’s busy but we really enjoy it. It’s a passion, just like diving.”