North London-based Len Loizou joined Auditel in December 2008. He had spent more than 20 years in senior management positions, predominantly in the distribution of electrical products.
His last corporate role was Group Commercial Director and main board member of a company called Hagemeyer with annual sales in excess of 1 billion Euros. Len’s key responsibilities were Group Purchasing and Procurement, Marketing and Category Management. He accomplished a number of significant cost reduction projects which helped achieve challenging profit targets.
Why I chose to take up a franchise
‘Having achieved most of my career goals, I had come to a crossroads in my professional life and was looking at alternatives. I’d always hankered to work for myself, as I believed strongly in taking destiny into my own hands, as well as looking to achieve a better work/ life balance. I had considered setting up my own business but believed that franchising was a safer and quicker way to achieve my aspirations.’
How did I make my selection?
‘I’d done some desk research on Professional Services and found Auditel as part of that process. At an exhibition for senior executives, I met Howard Ward and Ed Brewer and we talked about the Auditel proposition. I investigated all the key players in this field as part of the process of deciding which franchise to choose. I selected Auditel. Their solid and well-established business model and culture of professionalism appealed to me. An important feature of this was the comprehensive training and a collaborative network of franchisees. Finally, having met all the key people, I felt that I could trust them and that was crucial to my decision.’
The quality of the training and support
‘Irrespective of my background, I knew that the training and support would be critical in the start up phase to my new business. The Client Acquisition programme was excellent. It offered people with no previous experience the tools and confidence to develop their client base. The technical training covered the main areas thoroughly. I was well prepared to take on my first project.
‘New franchisees are given every opportunity to succeed. Head Office provides on-going learning opportunities with mentoring support. Regular review meetings are set up to talk through the business plan. This is a great way of assessing how things are going, whether corrective action is needed and what those actions might be.
‘You can also turn to the network. This is a fantastic resource and proves invaluable, not just in the early days but throughout the time I’ve had my business. Extra support is available through regular local meetings of Affiliates. These are a great forum for bringing issues, problems, and opportunities etc to the table.’
Progress in the marketplace so far
‘I’ve tried to build a relatively local business and will continue to focus on doing that. However, I haven’t limited my business development and will go where I think the opportunities are. I have clients as far north as Leeds and as far south as Hastings.’
My plans for the future
‘Having developed a solid business base, both in terms of the number and the variety of clients, I am now looking to push and continue the early success. I have ambitious client acquisition targets that will be the core of my future expansion. My plans will be helped by bringing in a new person in September who has great marketing skills and will be a real asset in both client acquisition and management. In these times of economic difficulty, our services can be of great benefit to many organisations and I will be trying hard to get that message over to them.’
Highlights of being an Auditel franchisee
‘After two and half years, I’m proud to have a business that is moving in the right direction, delivering extremely good results to a solid and growing client base. They vary from a small PR agency, to a major UK charity and a large Public Authority. Recently I met a new prospect, a Top 50 Accountancy practice. They liked the Auditel proposition but wanted to talk to a number of my existing clients before committing. The next day, I gave them a list of six with the contact details. A couple of hours later, I had a call from the Finance Director who said he would sign. When asked who he had spoken to, he replied, “I only spoke to one person but that was good enough for me. He gave you an absolutely glowing reference”. I was delighted to hear such a positive comment from the people who matter the most - my clients. It sums up what I want my business to stand for, outstanding customer service that delivers results.
‘Finally, my work life balance is better than it has ever been and I’m enjoying the autonomy of being my own “boss”. The work is varied and interesting and like the words of Forrest Gump’s mother “Clients are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get!”’