Helen Preece is CIMA qualified and currently operates the Haywards Heath and Brighton territories. Helen joined the network in 2009 opening the Haywards Heath office. At the end of 2014 Helen renewed her Franchise Agreement and then during the spring of 2015 decided to increase her business by acquiring the Brighton territory, which she opened on 1st June securing her first client that same day!
“I initially looked into buying a franchise when I was being made redundant. I had two small children and the job I was in allowed me to work from home one day a week, so the thought of job interviews and asking about working from home was very unappealing.
Investing in the franchise was the easy bit. Once the training week was over then the hard work really started! As an accountant I was used to sitting behind my desk with my calculator, getting reports out, sorting out queries and all of the other bits and pieces that come along with the job. Now though, I was not only the finance department but the marketing department, HR, sales and the Board of Directors!
As part of the training week we were lucky enough to go to an evening event held by a local company. This was the perfect introduction to networking and I found that I was actually quite good at it! So the sales department bit wasn’t quite so daunting and armed with business cards I used my first month to attend over 20 different networking events. At the end of the first month I had my first client and within a couple of months of networking I had a regular weekly client who I still look after five years on.
The first two years were hard work, extremely hard! Knowing that clients were not going to fall in my lap meant that I knew I had to get up and find them myself. Sacrifices were made and my family were brilliant in supporting me. One of the reasons that the franchise was so appealing to me was the flexibility. My son had just started school so I was able to go to Nativity performances, sports days, cake sales and just being able to take him to school. Over five years on I still take my children to school, go to their assemblies, performances and sports days.
Whilst flexibility was important so was the support on offer from the franchisor as well as my fellow franchisees. The franchisor looks after our online marketing and we are able to concentrate our marketing activities on a local level. With my offices covering a large part of Sussex I am able to combine my efforts with other franchisees in the Sussex area to maximise the opportunity for each of us. This year we have our own slot in the Business Support feature section of Business Edge magazine and in previous years have had a joint presence at local networking and business exhibitions.
Running any business is hard work but being part of the TFMC network means you are not on your own. As I have taken on more clients and developed my business I have been able to take on staff to help me as well as having the support of the other franchisees and Franchisor. I wouldn’t change my original decision to join The Financial Management and if you decide to join I am sure you will feel the same five years later.”