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Description: With Driving Miss Daisy you can run your own transportation business in your local area, catering to the elderly, children & those with disabilities. Opportunities: In the UK. Business Type: Franchise. Minimum Investment: £15,000. Training Provided: Yes. Home-based: Yes.

The first Daisies in the UK

Chris and Anna

Chris and Anna White joined Driving Miss Daisy as the very first franchisees in the UK. Chris tells us where their journey has taken the couple.

“My career has always been in the property or financial services sector so I suppose most people wouldn’t automatically pair me up with a companion driving service franchise! I started working in estate agency straight from school and then moved in to financial management. I started to help more and more people with buy-to-let financing, realised the market growth and so moved into lettings. I ended up with 3 estate and lettings agencies which I sold in 2008 and continued supporting the new owner with consultancy whilst I primarily focused on property development. My career moved as I saw opportunities in markets with growing needs.

“So it actually wasn’t such a great leap of faith when I spoke to Paul Nuth, Driving Miss Daisy’s UK Franchise Development Director, about the franchise opportunity that was coming over from New Zealand. I already knew Paul as a successful business consultant and could immediately see his passion for what the business offered.”

Driving Miss Daisy is a business with a heart. We are renowned for offering a safe, caring and reliable service for those people who find it difficult to get out and about. Franchisees provide companionship and transportation for the elderly, children and people with disabilities, among many others. We offer assistance with anything from medical appointments, a trip to the hairdressers or social outings and most of all make sure our clients have plenty of fun!

“The service instantly resonated with me. I have a 95-year-old father who insists on still driving himself about to keep his independence but I felt more and more that this was not safe. If he used a service like Driving Miss Daisy then he could keep his independence without the need for his own vehicle."

“My wife, Anna, has been both a nurse and carer and now runs a part-time holistic therapy business which gives her more time with our two children. She could also see how bringing Driving Miss Daisy to our community would make a real difference."

“Both of us knew how important it was to deliver excellent customer service in our previous careers and we felt that this would be key to the success of the Driving Miss Daisy business. We spoke to Jack and Melanie Harper, the founders of Driving Miss Daisy in New Zealand, who explained their reasons behind starting the business and developing the franchise over there. The decision to join the team became very simple."

“So, in September 2014 we bought the first franchise in the UK – Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire. I should point out that our journey as the first franchisees would be very different to what new franchisees now experience. We needed to take a successful business model from New Zealand and make it operate within UK legal requirements whilst also meeting local council guidelines. It took us four and a half months to navigate the meandering roads of licensing whereas it now takes on average around four weeks! That meant that our franchise business finally launched in March 2015!"

“As the pilot franchise in the UK, we decided that I would concentrate on developing the business side while my wife would operate the service. Our fantastic branded car gets people asking questions when we are out and about but our first clients came in through the leaflet drop that was suggested by the franchise support team at HQ. We have great marketing support, someone who sets up and monitors our social media including a very active Facebook page."

“Whilst we have individual bookings to take people to the hairdressers or doctor appointments, the business quickly develops into much more than that. We offer group trips to shopping or garden centres, tea rooms or to the seaside. These trips are cheaper for clients as we have multiple people in the car at once but, most importantly, they bring people together, building friendships and combating loneliness."

“These trips have doubled our business and I would recommend that any franchisee builds them into their operating model. In our first 8 months we have become a profitable business but would suggest this is achievable in a shorter time with the lessons we have learned and marketing material available. Being part of a franchise is all about sharing ideas and with more franchisees joining there are plenty of good ones! We always had in our business plan to start a second car in month 8 but have held off. We are now in a position where we are having to turn down several bookings a week which is really disappointing for us and the potential client."

“Our second car will be a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV), due shortly, which the UK franchise team at HQ has spent a considerable amount of time developing, finding the right car to be adapted to take a wheelchair but still have the wheelchair user at the same height as the rest of the passengers. It’s fantastic and makes a huge difference to every client that uses it."

“Anna and I took on the first franchise with a view to developing the whole of the Hampshire area. Now that we have learned some really useful operating lessons, we’ll be looking for an owner-operator to take over our Lee-on-Solent franchise whilst we find new franchisees to launch their Driving Miss Daisy businesses to cover communities across the county."

“Because of my experience, I have also joined the Driving Miss Daisy UK Team to help and assist all new franchisees within the South East of the UK. I’m really happy to be supporting these new franchisees as they develop their businesses, help them avoid any potholes and grow much quicker than our first ever UK franchise did.”

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