A chance to be in control... and a flying start to franchise life
It’s fair to say Neil Whitford had a very diverse career before he grabbed the chance to be his own boss when he launched Mac Tools Skipton.
He said: “My career up to now has been quite varied. I started in retail and then went to work for a blue chip company in marketing as a product manager. I moved into journalism as a magazine editor in the consumer field. I progressed into an off-shoot of the automotive industry demonstrating cars for Land Rover. I then started my own business distributing organic food boxes.
“Another regular job really didn’t appeal to me again. I had a change in personal circumstances and moved away from where my previous business was based. My last business was a good opportunity at the time but not something I could replicate in a new area. As soon as I saw the advert for Mac Tools, I knew it was right for me – it didn’t take a lot of research for me to know that it could work for me.”
For Neil, Mac Tools provided everything he wanted out of a business.
“I didn’t want to work for somebody else. I wanted to be in control of my own business, so for me, Mac Tools just ticked so many boxes. It didn’t require a huge amount of initial capital investment and it worked with my circumstances at the time. I was able to get into an established network which is key when you establish your own business. I didn’t look at any other businesses because Mac Tools fitted exactly what I wanted. I liked the sound of the business and what it stands for.”
Mac Tools provides training and ongoing support for all of their franchisees. Neil learnt everything he needed to know and more from the two-week training course they provide at their head office, and for anything else the Mac Tools team are never more than a phone call a way for advice and support he may need for the business.
Neil says: “For my initial training I did the 2-week residential course at head office. The training was excellent, thorough and extremely rewarding. Every step of the process contributed to me thinking that I’d made the right move. Everything was positive and I came away feeling that I had the information I needed to get started.
“The support has been very positive from both regional managers and the rest of the network. There are aspects that could be improved. The franchisees are a huge resource in terms of their experience and Mac Tools listen to franchisees’ input and insight which is invaluable.
“I was very nervous initially but the first couple of weeks are spent with an area manager so you have someone stood next to you. After the first week the nerves wear once you’ve got sales and you’ve met friendly and receptive people. Your confidence builds and by the end of the second week you’re ready to get out there and do things your own way.”
He never looked back, and has big plans for his future.
Neil says: “I’m very pleased with the business now. I’m 12 months in and the business is growing well. I’m now reaching customers who were initially resistant but who are now on board and supporting the business.
“If you have the confidence in your ability to run your own business, don’t be afraid if you don’t have the specialist knowledge in that particular field. That’s not critical, you just need the confidence in yourself to build a business.
“I want to pursue a steady growth without it absorbing a lot of my time in return. I’m happy with the financial risk and growing the business. From a personal point of view, I want to continue at this level for the next 10 years, it will leave me in a position to retire comfortably.”