As universities open their doors in the coming weeks, hoards of new students will be leaving home for the very first time to begin their studies.
While full of excitement for their children, for many parents this milestone marks the end of a chapter.
Suddenly the demands put upon them from their ever-demanding children have gone – bedrooms remain unusually clean; food cupboards do not need restocking quite as much; washing doesn’t pile up and your taxi driving duties are no longer called upon at all hours.
Welcome to the Empty Nest Club.
Once the initial euphoria has worn off, becoming a member of this club can, in fact, come as somewhat of a shock for many parents.
Suddenly they may find themselves expectantly lost and not quite sure how they’re going to fill the void.
This was exactly how Helen felt. After 20 years of being a stay-at-home mum for her two children she needed to carve out a new identity for herself when her youngest son went off to university.
“Rightly or wrongly, my family had been my entire focus and once both children had left home for university, and my husband was busy working all day, I felt a little lost and unfulfilled. There is only so much going to the gym, doing the cleaning and meeting friends for coffee that you can do. ”
Helen wanted something challenging, fulfilling and fun, yet she didn’t want to throw herself into a full-time job working for someone else.
“Because I’d been out of the workforce for so long, I had no confidence and really believed no one would want to employ me. I had such huge imposter syndrome.”
Helen had a long think about what she enjoyed most.
I enjoy going on holiday – who doesn’t – but I also love researching and organising holidays. A friend recommended I look into becoming a travel agent and I came across The Travel Franchise, chatted to Paul and to lots of other TCs and suddenly felt really inspired.”
Still feeling nervous, Helen decided to sign up to the Elite package, but pay for it via monthly instalments in case she didn’t find any customers.
While this is a great option, if you spread payments you are not eligible for the Money-Back Challenge, our unique scheme where we refund your franchise fee if you make a set amount of commission in a year.
“It seemed too much of a risk to pay for it all in one go. I just told myself that if I can make enough money each month just to pay back the franchise fee in the first year then I’d be really happy.”
Helen should have had more confidence in our proven model – and in her ability.
In the 18 months since setting up her company she has secured just under £800,000-worth of business.
Had she paid for her franchise fee all up front, she would have beaten the Money-Back Challenge and we would have given her a £14,995 refund!
“I could kick myself now because I know I would have won it. I just didn’t have the self belief back then.”
Things are far different now. Her job hasn’t just given her a great salary, it’s given her a new sense of purpose and drive.
“I was always a happy bubbly person, but I wasn’t overly confident (except at being a mum). If I went to a dinner party, I sometimes felt I had nothing to offer, but now I’ve got so much to say. It’s really boosted my confidence. My husband must feel like he’s got a completely new wife! And she’s finally bringing in some money!”
Throwing herself into her new life, Helen admits has taken hard work but thankfully she’s been able to get support from our team of travel experts.
Every franchisee gets access to a business development manager (BDM) whom they can call if they get stuck with a booking or need to ask a question.
“I’ve been on such a massive learning curve. It wasn’t easy to start with, but I had so much support from my business development manager and from NJT’s suppliers.
“When I get requests about destinations that I don’t know, I get straight on the phone to a supplier and they help me organise and suggest the itineraries – they are the experts and they are so incredibly helpful and friendly.
“Very often they give me on-to-ground tips to pass on to my clients – like the best bus to catch from the airport, where to leave their luggage or the best restaurants – so it makes me look really knowledgeable.”
Helen has also used our social media and marketing team for tips and posts.
“I’ve also learnt so much about marketing and social media. I didn’t even use Facebook beforehand, and now I have hundreds of followers and post every day.”
With the majority of her clients coming from her local gym, Helen now has about 300 customers – many of whom are repeat bookers.
“I’m a very chatty person. So when I’m at the gym I tell people what I do and give out my card. I’ve had some people book four or five times with me and then they tell other people and the word spreads from there.”
Now, brimming with confidence, Helen is keen to build on her customer base and has recently joined her local Business Networking International (BNI) branch.
But, for Helen, being a consultant isn’t just about the bookings.
Helen’s new business has enabled her to explore the world, not only on family trips but in a professional capacity too.
“I have done so much travelling this year with my new NJT colleagues, my husband and the kids, and each trip has been amazing! This year I won a place on a fam trip to St Lucia in February; my husband and I went to Singapore and Australia in March; then in May I went on NJT’s Elite Experience to Mauritius as well as a trip with my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary in New York. We also enjoyed a family holiday in Canada and America during the summer and I am due to go a NJT cruise in October before going back to the USA again in November.”
The transformation is incredible.
“Being a full-time mum was the best thing I ever did. I’m so glad I did it – and I recognise that many people might not have the luxury to do that, so I was very lucky.
“But I often wondered if people thought that I hadn’t done much with my life. I don’t feel like that any more. I’m proud of myself. It’s like I’ve been given another life. Two lives in one lifetime and I’m absolutely loving it.”