In Countrywide Signs James & Jane found a business the whole family benefits from…
James and Jane Bickerstaff launched their Countrywide Signs business in 2000 and have built it up to have seven vans on the road. Whilst they don't want any more vans at present, they're still focused on growing their customer base and profits.
Jane explains: "When we started we had one van and my husband and I did everything. We now have seven vans each with a permanent driver and a couple of part-time employees. Although we are not looking to increase the number of vans we're running, we are still focused on growth by winning new contracts in the areas we're already working in, this will decrease overheads by making trips more efficient and therefore increase profits."
The couple have gained huge satisfaction from achieving what they set out to do whilst maintaining a good balance between work and family life. "Our work has to fit in with our home lives and vice versa. Our nine year old daughter is often found in the office helping out and it's been good for her to see us working. She understands that when we've finished we can go out and have fun," says Jane.
She continues: "We love being outdoors and having active lives, I play hockey for Preston Ladies and as a family we enjoy vintage car rallies. So although much of our role is now office based, planning routes and responding to queries, we ensure we're out and about as much as possible, meeting customers and assessing sites for large board signs and banners."
There is a strong network of established franchise owners in the north-west who appreciate the ability to share experiences with each other. But with 14 years' experience, Jane is also a good contact for new franchise owners and is often asked to give advice.
She says: "The first thing I always recommend is to research your area as much as possible. Get to know who your potential customers are and most importantly, who your competitors are. You need to know what kind of service is currently offered to estate agents in your patch and how you will build your business by providing something they don't have - for example the online tools we provide, which are a fantastic selling point." -
Jane advises those looking at the Countrywide Signs franchise: “This franchise would suit someone who likes to be busy and enjoys a challenge. This isn’t a nine-to-five job, however what you put in you do get out at the end, which has enabled us to achieve the success our hard work deserves.”
“I enjoy the fact that it is a challenging business and every day is different, you really don’t know what you’re going to come across the next day.”