Carla, from Bristol, is our latest Money Back Challenge winner. After choosing the Elite franchise package and completing her initial training back in December 2019, she’s just got her franchise for £0! All possible from doing something she loves to do, working in travel, and being her own boss.
Professional dance teacher and company owner turned travel consultant Carla has always loved to travel and has often taken her family away on exciting trips all around the world. From day 1 of starting her travel business, the Money Back Challenge was within her sights.
Carla was aiming for no less than reaching the target that would make her ready-made travel business free.
2020 wasn’t easy, with massive highs including a £34k Orlando booking and some challenging lows, Carla proves what’s possible with the right mindset.
What did you do before joining to start a travel business?
“I’ve been a dance teacher for 10-12 years, including ballet, tap, jazz.
I started my own dance school in Bristol, which I ran with a friend for many years. I had zero industry travel experience beforehand, my only experience was from travelling with the kids on holidays.
We did New York one year as a family during Halloween which was really cool, and Mexico is our favourite destination to date.”
What made you change course in 2019 and become a travel consultant?
“I had already come out of running the dance school back in 2016, I sold my part of the business.
I have 3 boys who all love football and keep me busy.
After I left the dance school I got another job in a jewellery store, as well as a teaching job. What made me change course is I knew my jewellery job was coming to an end, and I wanted more flexibility with the kids.
My husband came across Ben, an existing franchisee, via work. It was all very new to us. We had never looked into anything like this before, in fact, I was actually looking at going back to dance.
My initial impression was “It’s too good to be true”. But after I spoke with Ben, and heard how much he recommended it, I was convinced.”
You can learn more about Ben’s success story here.
Training finished, your business ready, what happened next?
“Straight out of training, my first month as a part-time travel consultant was really strong, despite being a little nervous. The fact you get a personal travel coach was amazing, they are there to help you find your feet.
Then the pandemic hit us in March/April.
My teacher job stopped, the jewellery shop stopped, I had zero income and it was a very difficult time.
I applied for a job at Aldi, I was responsible to let people in and out of the shop, which was not the best of times. But I used my personality to cheer people up. I worked there 30 hours a week and in my spare time, I worked really hard on my travel business to keep it going and just keep building my customer base.
The target from the very beginning had been the Money Back Challenge.
In November 2020 I managed to get an Orlando booking for £34k for 18 passengers, it was for a multi-generational family trip. It was a referral through a friend. It was a real high point.
Since January 2021 I’ve been working less in Aldi, and I’ve just been really focused on my travel business.”
What’s encouraged people to book their holidays with you?
“The Not Just Travel “Book and Relax” campaign has been amazing, it’s a real differentiator for your business.
This allows you to sell holidays to customers with really flexible terms, which gives them the confidence that they need.
This is a real advantage of being part of the franchise, your business gets access to the best terms with all the suppliers. If independent you wouldn’t get that.”
What are the 3 things you would say you need to achieve the MBC?
“1) Dig deep, even when you think you have lost hope. Stay optimistic, always.
2) Be a people person. I’m always upbeat and this transfer of emotion and energy comes across to your customer and gives them confidence.
3) Focus on bookings with bigger margins. For instance, Disney and skiing holidays are big focuses of mine.”
Now you’ve achieved the Money Back Challenge, what’s next?
“To be fair, I just feel like I’m just getting started.
Work-life balance is really important to me, spending more time with the kids, and going on more holidays.”
What’s one of the best bits about being a part of a franchise and not being independent?
“Having the ability to call the head office, there to chat with when I make a booking is so helpful. I chat through the process sometimes to make sure all bases are covered. They are always there, and that reassurance is priceless. They also deal with all the paperwork.”
You can discover more about the head office support here.