A husband and wife team are trading in their careers for business ownership after becoming the latest franchisees to join the thriving Countrywide Signs estate agency board management franchise.
Martin and Jo Pitts (pictured, centre, with Countrywide Signs MD Tony Williams, far right, and franchise development manager Justin Pearce, far left) have taken over part of an existing territory around Worcester as well as a greenfield site in Gloucester, with plans to grow the business to three or four vans as they build up their client base.
For Martin, experience as a bodyshop manager showed him the power of franchising, and after considerable research Countrywide Signs was the clear choice for the couple.
He explains: “In the last few years the bodyshop I was working at became part of a national franchise brand and I was asked to help with the implementation of this change. I really got to see the value in a franchise – a lot of support and help just a telephone call away, and plenty of shared experiences and best practice. I really liked that.
“I’d got to the point in my life where I wanted to control my own destiny, to make my own decisions – whether good, bad or indifferent! I wanted the support of a franchise vehicle to do that.
“Having worked with one, I could see the benefits first hand and after Jo and I met with the team at Countrywide Signs and took courses with the British Franchise Association, we knew it was the business for us.”
Martin’s practical background will see him run daily operations putting up and managing the boards, while Jo’s experience in financial roles leaves her ideally placed to manage that side of the business. She’ll initially retain her current job in accounts payable, planning to join Martin full-time within six months as the business grows.
Jo said: “It’s the perfect business for us to take advantage of the skills we both have. The support we’ve had has been fantastic, we’ve had incredible training. The accountant has come in to explain the basics of not only the Countrywide Signs franchise but also talk to us generally about running a business.
“Another former franchisee has also come in and spoken to us, having done it for real she’s been able to explain not only how the technology works, but also put some anecdotes to that and tell us what to do if this or that happens. It’s been brilliant.”
Martin added: “It’s a new venture for us, we’ve not been in business on our own before, so it’s going to be exciting and challenging I’m sure. I’m going out on the van with the existing franchisee around Worcester for a week, and then he’s coming out with me the following week, so I’ll get to know the business really well from the start.
“We’ve got a 10-year plan, the territory size we’ve got is substantial so we ‘ll add two or three additional vans on the road once we grow, and I’ll assume more of a managerial role. We can’t wait to get started.”