What do you do if your successful baby swimming franchise business is wiped out during Covid?
For Kirsty, who lives in Fife, Scotland, it was sink or swim.
She kept the business afloat any way she could during the coronavirus outbreak, but ultimately had to sell what was left of it and decided to use some of the money to start a new business in an area she’s always been very passionate about: travel.
Now, just one year on, she’s achieved our unique Money-Back Challenge where we refund the £14,995 Elite franchise fee to anyone who books enough holidays to make a set amount of commission in 12 months!
“I was dancing around the kitchen and drinking Champagne on Wednesday! Who gets a start-up business for nothing?” says Kirsty
The announcement of Kirsty’s Money-Back Challenge success was made at our conference last weekend!
So what does she plan to do with all that money?
“Getting that amount of money back again changes how you figure out paying the bills next year. Effectively that’s next year’s holiday to Orlando paid for, without having to really worry about it!”
The Travel Franchise is the only franchise of its kind in Britain that offers the Challenge. Our co-founder Paul Harrison introduced it over 10 years ago and since then dozens of people have won it – not bad considering 98 per cent of our new franchisees do not have a history in working in travel.
“We want people to adopt a winning mindset from the get go. If people like Kirsty become successful we do too,” says Paul.
“Your franchise fee pays for your business infrastructure, booking technology, plus the training and support by travel experts. But if you make enough sales, you generate enough profit to justify us returning that investment.”
Paul says that while the Challenge is achievable it’s not easy (the clue is in its name!). However, he believes that if franchisees book two holidays a week, they’ll make it.
So how did Kirsty, a mum of two, decide to invest her money with us and what are her tips for others looking to do the same thing – and achieve the Challenge?
“I spent an awful lot of time hunting through all the different home-working companies and checking franchises that would take people without industry experience. I also looked at the training, provision, support and studied the reviews. And I spoke to some of the travel agents as well and to some in other franchise companies too.”
Then Kirsty booked a call with Paul.
“It felt like a big gamble. But the Money-Back Challenge actually was the hook that eventually got me over the line.”
Kirsty weighed up all the advantages of our most popular Elite package. After all, we offer a cheaper franchise, costing just £2,995 + vat, but there’s no Money-Back Challenge or free overseas mentorship retreats included with that…
“I thought, even if I don’t achieve the Challenge, to get anywhere near to it in your first year of business has got to set you up for a really good solid future going forward. So it’s worth aiming for, even if you don’t get there.”
With just one week to go before the Challenge was over, Kirsty was just £160 away from achieving the target.
“Knowing that the support was behind me, I could see it, I could feel it. That was probably the bit that really did it eventually.”
But most of all she gave a big heartfelt thank to her Business Development Manager, Dani, for all her help (every franchisee gets a BDM to call for support whenever they need it!)
Like many franchisees, Kirsty has always had a passion for travel.
“For a long time, I could see myself in travel, I just couldn’t see myself selling holidays from behind a desk in a high street shop. Travel is probably in my DNA. I was spending so much time messing about on the internet looking for holidays my husband said I needed to do something about it!”
She also wanted to be her own boss, and have the ability to work from home or anywhere in the world.
“Having run my own business for about 10 years, the concept of going back to work for anybody else just doesn’t float my boat. Now my children are 12 and 14, it seemed like the right time. The kids are old enough now that they’re more independent and able to get to school and back by themselves.”
And Kirsty has certainly been enjoying the flexibility.
“I’ve taken holiday bookings on cruise ships. I’ve even taken bookings when we’ve been in a field setting up a tent at a festival. It can literally be done from anywhere, which is what I love about it.”
So how difficult was it to get her business off the ground?
Kirsty said she was “absolutely astonished by the support from family and friends” but the first six months was relatively gradual. She warns people to remember you don’t get paid commission from booking a holiday until clients travel. That said, when you get going, repeat clients and referrals start generating business without looking for it.
Kirsty started by using social media to spread the word about her business but her biggest tip is networking groups like Business Networking International (BNI).
“I joined our local business networking group which has been absolutely phenomenal and there is no way I would be sitting here if it wasn’t for that.”
She has also found our training days and our Business Development Managers (BDMs) – both included for free in the Elite package – invaluable.
“Training days have always pushed me in the right direction when I needed that support. Having done franchisee work and working self-employed for 10 years, I’ve started to recognise when I do need support and to reach out for help at that point. I think that’s absolutely crucial because the business development managers and the team are there in spades as soon as you raise your hand in the air.”
Kirsty also joined our free Millionaire’s Retreat in Cyprus in March when co-founders Paul and Steve took 100 consultants away for training and to get a better feel for the resort of Paphos and the luxurious Constantinou Bros resorts.
“Cyprus was fantastic. We learned lots of good strategies from Steve and the BDMs, but the best bit was meeting other consultants who were at very similar stages in the business to me. We’ve now got a brilliant WhatsApp group and everyone is so supportive.”
She also joined our Cruise Mastery Programme, which includes a free cruise with business training onboard.
“I loved it. I would cruise every day of the year if I could. I was on Virgin Voyages’ Valiant Lady, from Barcelona around the Mediterranean at the end of June. The weather was spectacular, which was just icing on the cake, the food was incredible as was the entertainment.”
“Again it was another great networking opportunity with people who’ve been in the business for quite a long time. Plus, the BDMs for the cruise division were on board, so there was a huge amount of knowledge to tap into.”
So would Kirsty recommend others jump on board and take out a franchise?
“It’s not rocket science. If you just follow the formula that’s been tried and tested, it will come. You’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone and you have to do the work. But it’s not difficult to figure.”
And how confident does she feel about the future?
“I’ve got people now who have booked three or four times with me already, which is phenomenal. These are people I had never even met before.”
And then there’s the perks. Travelling for work and pleasure!
Kirsty and her family spent Christmas on another cruise. This time on the MSC Euribia. Did she take some holiday bookings on board? We think it’s highly likely she did.