Signs of Success For Mark Herlihy
Just eighteen months into his new business, former financial services manager Mark Herlihy is already seeing major signs of success in his territory around Oxford.
Having worked for 16 years in a strategic role managing over 100 staff – when the time came to realise the dream of going out on his own, Mark jumped at the chance of taking over a Countrywide Signs franchise as the former owner neared retirement.
Athough benefitting from established clients, Mark had to work hard to re-establish the brand as his own in the local area in order to grow the business. Originally planning to start a second van within the first eighteen months, he actually achieved this goal within a year – and now has one full time driver and one part time – and hopes to employ another full time member of staff soon. With feedback positive from clients, another van is also on the cards by year two.
Although never seeing himself as a natural entrepreneur, Mark has smashed his income targets as well. “When we took over the turnover was £18k,” he says, “and we’ll close our first full financial year at the end of May 2016 with a turnover of £66,000 and a healthy profit margin. Our projected turnover for the next financial year is £95-125K - so we are definitely moving in the right direction.”
And Mark is clear on what has helped make him so successful so quickly. “The support and marketing guidance from Head Office has been tremendous,” he says. “On top of that there is the National Accounts team who bring in work from a lot of the larger brands to add to revenue from my local clients.”
What has also made an impression on Mark is the way Countrywide Signs are always looking at initiatives to improve the client service offering. “In the last 12 months Head Office have introduced a new App which links to the existing Board Management System we use to update agents on project progress,” says Mark. “It gives us another point of difference over our competition.”
Mark’s business is growing so fast he’s even had to put his gym and rugby time on hold, and draft in the help of his partner, who assists with admin despite having her own full-time job. With five children and three dogs, he’s already at ‘bursting point’ running the operation from home, and the aim is to expand into new premises soon – with Mark taking on more of a management role.
“My Countrywide Signs franchise has been everything I hoped it would be and more,” concludes Mark. “I’m working longer hours than I did before but it’s so much more rewarding. I can genuinely see the progress I’m making towards my goals, gaining financial control over my future, and achieving a better work-life balance so I can spend more time with my family.”