From South Africa to south Wales… and a “proper” business
For Hannes Poley, starting a business was just one part of a complete change in lifestyle – he and his wife had already moved halfway across the world!
“I was a police officer in South Africa for 35 years,” Hannes says. “I retired and came to the UK in March 2017, and began looking for a business to start. Our entire family is in the UK so it was a natural move for us.”
That family connection was what drew Hannes towards launching his Countrywide Signs Cardiff & Bridgend franchise – but only after a thorough examination of his options and the wider marketplace.
He explains: “Some of the family own estate agents in Hertfordshire, and the other part of the family is in Cardiff, and work in a retail environment. I first looked at buying an estate agency franchise, but decided that wasn’t what I wanted to do.
“That led me to sign management, and I looked at a competitor to Countrywide. But what Countrywide were offering was simply a lot better, in my opinion. The people at the central office were so responsive, we had good meetings with everyone and felt very comfortable.”
The support hasn’t stopped there though, with Hannes saying the move has been made simple thanks to his relatives.
“To be honest, I’ve found it relatively easy so far because of the support of the family,” he says. “Everything from opening bank accounts to setting up the company, it’s a lot easier when you have an accountant in the family!”
Hitting the road
Even though he’s launched a brand new territory, Hannes says he’s been able to get off to a solid start thanks to the strength of Countrywide Signs’ relationships with major online and high street agencies.
He explains: “It’s going well. It’s a new territory but there’s plenty of national accounts work that we’ve taken over in the local area, which head office have transferred over to us. It’s given us a good start. Now it’s about getting our name out there and building up our client base. Things are already picking up and we’re looking to recruit somebody to help with the marketing.”
And when it comes to the future, Hannes already has big ambitions that match the franchise growth model perfectly.
He says: “We’ve got the first option on the entirety of south Wales. We’ve started out in Cardiff and Bridgend and within six months we’d like to have another van on the road. I really like the Countrywide business model of adding more vehicles as you grow, I didn’t want to just be an owner-operator.
“After we’ve grown to add our second van, we’d like to expand outwards to Newport, Swansea, Port Talbot and so on, really take advantage of the towns around us.
“We want to make it what I call a ‘proper’ business!”