Liz Dillon
Franchise Owner based in Essex, UK

 

Why I Got into Franchising?
My brother David had worked for the company owned side of the business in recruitment and had decided he wanted to take an Antal International franchise and launch his own recruitment company. I had always wanted to run my own business but had not found the right products to sell or service to offer. When I found out more about Antal International and the support they could provide through franchising, the recruitment idea and the support that a franchise could provide me with seemed to work very well together.

Franchising gave us the opportunity to be affiliated with a global brand, one that David had a lot of faith in and it also gave us the flexibility and business opportunity to pursue our own ambitions.

I hadn’t really thought about franchising so much but because David had worked for Antal for several years both he and I had an understanding of the organisation from an early stage and we both liked the direction it was going in. The international network they could provide through sharing candidates, clients and fees also gave us the flexibility and further security in the recruitment industry.

How Antal International Network gives me Flexibility in my Family Life?
My daughter was less than a year old when we started the business, however this has not caused any issues in fact being able to work from home some days and make calls in the evening gives me the flexibility to work around any issues I may have. The location of the office is local to us therefore the reduced time travelling each day allows us to increase productivity and time spent at the desk. Whilst a lot of extra hours are put in, for emergencies there is flexibility, which is perfect for a young family.

My Career Prior to Antal International Network?
I had been an operations manager within the retail industry, having started out as a management trainee and worked my way up the career path my roles had been very varied over my previous 10 year career. My role had been very customer focused on the sales floor, operation in back of house roles ie HR, Logistics etc and had a high level of management responsibility. Whilst the retail industry is very fast paced and offers great rewards it does not allow for a good work life balance or the opportunity to build your own business. My previous skills, as with many of the other franchisees in the Antal International Network have translated very easily through to the recruitment industry as has my general management experience.

I would really urge more females to consider running their own business, regardless of their family situation. It can seem very daunting, but a franchise model can take away a lot of the risk and provide more stability; through a proven business model, training and support. You may also find that you can work part time or flexibly. Antal International has given me the opportunity to earn a three figure salary through stimulating work, build a business and manage my work/life balance. I would urge all you ladies to ‘GO FOR IT’!

Liz Dillon – UK

Ludovic Massuel
Franchise Owner based in Paris, France

Why Antal International Network?
I started the Antal International Network recruitment franchise office in Paris in August 2007. I decided on Antal International because there is a strong international network and sharing culture and they have great presence in the East, where many things in my sector of interest – IT are happening and will happen in the future.   Also, the fact that Antal International is a franchise with a strong business methodology gives franchisees a great platform to learn the basics of this profession.     

My Career Prior to Antal International Network
I spent 24 years in the IT and Consulting world where I spent around 50% of this time focusing on the technical side and 50% of my time on sales. I didn’t really have any specific recruitment experience, prior to joining Antal International, although I did have some experience in hiring volume staff whilst working on an offshore platform project in Asia (hiring across Thailand and Singapore).

What did you hope to achieve when launching your business and how are you making this a reality?
I hoped to become the Recruitment Business of choice for software houses in France. I am still building my business in this area, but right now I have secured 3 major software companies who have become great clients, including the first French software house. I want to get credibility and visibility in my chosen industry sector and then expand into other sectors by expanding my business and hiring more consultants on my team to work for me.

How are you using the international network to increase business?
In my last business year I added around 40% in turnover through sharing business with other Antal offices globally. In my experience clients prefer if recruitment companies are part of a wider network or a larger business. They can see security in the size of the organisation and if they are also global they are more likely to work with the same recruitment provider in different locations.

Advice for Someone Planning to Go into this Business
Be patient and work hard and consistently following the methodologies and processes that Antal have developed over more than 16 years of experience. Make sure you manage customer relationships effectively, consistently and with a quality approach that far exceeds your competitors because this is the only way to generate recurring business.

Jim Foster
Franchise Owner based in Bracknell, UK

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose Antal International Network?
In 2003, the telecoms industry was moving towards contractors rather than employees so I was faced with a choice A) become a contractor or B) set up my own business. I wanted to take control of my own destiny, rather than be constantly looking over my shoulder for the next round of redundancies, so I decided to consider how I could run my own business.
 
I considered a number of options which included; what I could do myself, franchising, and buying a licence. I decided to go the franchise route as I felt it would give me the best chance to succeed. If I started on my own I had no real idea what to do or how to get going, the licence model provided no ongoing support. Franchising helps to get you going, provides ongoing support and gives you a framework for your business. In the case of Antal, there is also the opportunity to share business and work with other offices across the globe. I looked at a property management & lettings, carpet cleaning and two recruitment franchises before choosing Antal International. I chose a franchise in recruitment because it used my knowledge and experience in project management and IT.
 
What did you do before taking up a franchise?
I spent four years in the Navy before taking a role with BT(or GPO as it was known then)  where I worked for the next 5 years before making a decision to go back into the Navy in the technical engineering- electronics field. On coming out of the Navy in 1994 I took project management roles withMercury Communications, Telewest, GTS and Energis. I accepted redundancy in 2003.
 
How did you raise the finance?
I utilised a redundancy package along with funds released when I re mortgaged my property/home to get me started in my business venture.
 
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
The two weeks induction training was second to none and I have felt this throughout the nine years I have been with the business.
I employed an administrator to provide support from day one and for the first few months which really helped me in setting up my database. Antal has provided ongoing training and constant support in helping me develop. There are some very good people at the end of the phone as and when I have needed them.
 
What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
There is no single typical day, each day is different, has its own challenges and opportunities, however:
08:30         Arrive at the office and switch everything on. I have already checked emails (blackberry)
                 Open the Antal recruitment software, check on anything that needs immediate attention
                 Read news items
09:00         Kick off with the team– What’s planned for the day, what are our objectives
09:15         Business development.
12:00         Candidate preparation & debrief
12:30         Lunch
13:15         More prep, debriefs etc. up to around
14:00         Candidate search activity.
17:00         Planning and admin and team debrief, what did we achieve?
18:00         Go Home
 
What challenges have you faced?
I have faced the challenge that many small business owners face which is  working in,  rather than on the business.  When you have to build your business it is far too easy to get caught up in the details of the day to day operation rather than concentrating on building your business plan and operating it.
 
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Yes, of course it has, previously I was simply an employee. Actually when I was in the Royal Navy it felt more than just being an employee, I was part of something that made a difference. Now I run my own business, I have my own destiny in my hands, if I work hard, good things happen, if I don’t, they don’t. But whatever it is,  it is for me, and I can build something that will have some value. That I haven’t managed to achieve what I want so far is down to a number of things, but they are all things I can do something about, whereas as an employee I was at the whim of other decision makers.
 
Even the downturn, I could make decisions that would keep my business alive (and I did.).
For me that is what having my own business means, self-determination! The business being part of the Franchise means:
  • I am not on my own
  • I can present my business as either part of a larger global operation, or as a boutique operation
  • I have support I can rely on; all I need do is pick up the phone.
  • I get to share in all of our success
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
When you start a business remember that it is all about sales and this might be a transition for you.  Making sure that you have the funds in place to not only start the business but to develop it in line with your vision. And that means you have to have a vision, if you don’t know where you want to go, how are you going to get there, and how will you know when you have arrived?

What are your plans for the future?
I will be business planning to develop a larger team so I that I can diversify in terms of sectors, disciplines and therefore clients that we will work with.
 
Would you do it again?
Even at the worst point in the last years I haven’t regretted my decision to take on this franchise. So yes, I would certainly do it again.

Vinu Nair
Franchise Owner based in Chennai, India
 

Could you tell us more about your education & former corporate/business experience?
I am an Electronics Engineering graduate (1991 batch) and had my stint in packaging industry for the initial few years of my career path where I worked for MNCs’ such as ITW Signode and Parry & Co. Thereafter, I plunged into IT consulting where I got to meet Joseph Devasia, the Managing Partner in Mumbai, while attending training on SAP. I have had 20 years of experience into IT consulting providing technological solutions to clients and business partners of which 8 years were marked with Keane India as Vice President before I decided to work for my own self.

For how long are you now a franchisee?
I am a recent franchise business owner and have been in the system for 8 months now and I look forward to making a niche in the industry considering the gaps that require to be bridged while addressing clients’ needs and requirements.

Why did you want to build your own business & why was the franchise method the right one?
Having worked for more than 20 years and travelled to various destinations, I really wanted to be with my family and hence had resistance to relocation. The previous stint with Keane provided with immense opportunities to travel around the world but moving to UK again was not an option and hence I realised that if I have to grow and live at one place, then it has to be the entrepreneurial spirit inside me which can help me to build what I had pined for.

The reason for considering franchised business opportunity was to leverage my past business relationships with most of the clients I worked for and hence wanted to create a “WOW factor” for them. I realised that I would be able to deliver the best value proposition as a differentiator in the industry to my clients provided I have a team/colleagues, systems, processes and tools to backup my visionary plans.

Why did you choose recruitment franchise business?
While I was considering to startup a venture on my own, I always wanted a business that utilises my knowledge, skill sets, expertise and network of the industry I come from. Being a sales professional by heart and willingness to interact with clients and candidates, I interrogated myself about the business I wanted to be in and that’s how it conceptualised to be part of a global network of passionate business professionals which allows me to do business beyond country barriers.

With Antal International recruitment franchise, I could foresee my success to scale up a business with low gestation period and have my cash register “ringing” by being part of state-of-the-art training systems and processes that have been tried and tested around the world. And hence, here I am today helping my business partners to grow because of the candidates I introduce to them who make a high impact on their businesses.

“The passion to reach zenith, backed by 20+yrs experience across global markets, has driven me from a consulting role to an actual practicing role”.

How did you hear about Antal International?
I was in touch with Joseph Devasia (Managing Partner – Mumbai, India) since we met during SAP training days. My initial conversation with him was more onto finding next career stint with the clients he works for, but I believe by that time the fire in my belly had already ignited to be my own boss and hence discussions went on positively, followed by operational webex session with Liz Kilford and further conversations with Tony Jones and Doug Bugie. That’s how I realised the strong value in brand and I felt there is a complete family to back up my business plan by sharing their enriching experience and valuable inputs to ‘make it happen’.

How is your business functioning? When did you make your first placement?
Business is progressing well and I am sure the Antal network will strengthen it further.  I started in February 2011 and had my first business deal in the month of March 2011, till now have had 12 placement’s, very recently another one for Vice President Position.

What are your plans for the next years?
The focus for next year would be to diversify further into IT industry, hiring for sales, pre-sales and technology positions and senior roles such as CEOs’, IT Directors for large organizations. I also want to build a team of 5 people over the next 6 months.

Are you happy to be part of the Antal Network?
Yes, I am very delighted to be part of the Antal International family and look forward to know more people around the world in the business system as that’s the way to strengthen one another’s competencies.

I would also like to meet the owners more frequently to explore possibilities of growing our businesses together. I would like to have our network as strong as possible so that we all move in the right direction and sharpen one another’s skills. This would help us to achieve our futuristic business/career plans.

What is the key advice you would give to other prospective franchisees that are considering this kind of self-employment?
Just don’t go by the flow or what masses do but always follow your instinct by working on assignments that you are passionate about and pursue “Intelligence Factor” while deciding upon any opportunity which requires much more ownership and leadership. Good market study and due diligence before deciding about the opportunity is also a mandate as this minimises the risk of investing in a new venture and prepares you to adopt & demonstrate a differentiated brand position.

How do you see the franchise sector developing in the future?
I strongly believe that the desire to own a business kindles inside us.  So, we all look forward to be part of a business which is much supportive in helping us to grow it further. Therefore, franchise business today is a way to be an entrepreneur and putting your own brains into it.  It’s a way to reach out to your visions without much hassle. I see many corporate professionals stepping into such businesses to avoid reinventing the wheel as established systems help them achieve success quicker.

What are your other areas of interest?
Reading is my passion and I read books on business growth, strategy and self-employment and ensure outputs are much beneficial. On the other side, I am quite sporty and have been participating in marathons for several years.

Salvatore Fernandez
Franchise Owner based in London, UK

Why did you choose the franchise method to start your own business? And why did you choose your particular franchise business?
I have been working in the hospitality sector for a long time, most of my career. After some 30 years of managing and owning hotels & restaurants, it was important for me to do something that utilised my knowledge of this industry and my network, but avoid some of the problems that you can face in firsthand working in the Hospitality industry.  With the Antal International recruitment franchise, I am able to place people back into the hospitality sector, so it allows me to continue working in the same industry and increase my network.

The other important advantage of joining Antal International is that I instantly became part of a global Network of business professionals which allows me to place people internationally. It is motivational to help companies become more successful because of the candidates I introduce to them and also to see the growth opportunity for candidates.

After considering my business options, some careful research, led me to the conclusion that franchising would be the best and easiest solution for me as I would join a company with a great branding pedigree, who was already enjoying success and profitability and that has training and infrastructure around me.

What is the key advice you would give to other prospective franchisees that are considering this kind of self-employment?
Don’t get swept along by the passion you feel for a certain brand, make sure you spend time doing due diligence. I would always advise people to invest time in researching the company and brand you intend to invest in. This research can take time, but it does minimise the risks and will help you to feel secure about your decision. That being said, don’t let this get in the way of making a decision.  To be a business owner and enjoy the benefits and flexibility, you also need to be prepared to make a decision and take responsibility for the consequences, because sometimes things can go wrong. To quote Salvatore word for word: “You have to go there, build your own business but also be prepared to lose.”

How did you finance the purchase of your franchise? Did you find it difficult in today’s economic climate to raise the funds you needed?
I was lucky to have my own finances due to the selling of my hotel but what I would advise people is to prepare  a solid and realistic business plan with clear objectives about the money you want to earn. Many credible franchisors will be able to provide bank contacts who will be able to help them with financing the franchise.  Be realistic when writing your business plan, but also be aspirational about your targets. The most valuable advice for staying on target is to always remain positive, because it will breed more positivity and clients and colleagues will notice and reflect positivity back to you.

Do you find that your franchisor is helpful with the running of your franchise operation?
My franchisor, Antal International has always been very helpful all the way through and I know that assistance is available to me whenever I need it.

What is the main pitfall to watch out for when running a franchise?
The main pitfall is that sometimes people forget that they are still responsible for their work. Even if you work for a well known business brand, you are running your own business and you must take full responsibility for the way you manage your reputation and work.  No matter what business you go into, you get out what you put in.  It’s very important to remember this and stay motivated because the pressures and deliverables in running your own business come from different angles to those in employment.

Can you offer any advice regarding the ideal terms that new franchisees should negotiate as part of their franchise agreement?
There’s no list of ideal terms I would like to see in an agreement, the only thing I would advise people is to negotiate whenever possible. My motto is that there is always a deal that can be done and you should always try to get the best.  Ethical franchisors are more interested in building a long term relationship with their franchisees and will make their money through ongoing royalty payments, so my advice is to try to negotiate on the license fee.

How do you see the franchise sector developing in the future?
There will always be people who may be a little apprehensive about launching their business alone and who will enjoy many benefits of being part of a supportive, tried and tested infra structure.