PC PAL: franchisee case study
East Sussex-based Bruce Meredeen launched his PC PAL franchise in Tunbridge Wells and Wealden in October 2010. Bruce changed career at 50 after 25 years in Human Resources. During the transition he worked as a Postie for Royal Mail, and in a meat factory:
How did you find out about PC PAL?
From a BFA franchise exhibition website.
Why did you choose PC PAL?
PC Pal provided a clear and appealing prospectus describing a full turnkey package that suited to my then limited technical and commercial knowhow. After getting good vibes from talking to the franchisors by phone, I met Jat and Julia Mann in Solihull and established that they were great people who had personally set up a successful franchise. I sensed that we could work together well and so it has proven in practice.
What training and support did you receive from your
Comprehensive, continuing, tailored, very supportive, patient, motivational, general and specific.
What have been your main challenges and how did you overcome them?
During the formal training phase, it was about grasping the technical information that would ultimately underpin the practical work of fixing computers, of which I then had no practical experience. Then it was the commitment to commute from Sussex to Solihull for several weeks of hands-on training. Latterly, it was finding the confidence finally actually to launch the business despite being qualified and trained. Would I be able to do the job in practice? At all times I had the advice and support of the franchisor's principals, other PC Pal engineers and my closest family and friends. Ultimately I sensed it was now or never and switched on the phones!
How has your life / mind-set changed?
My life has changed considerably now my franchise is established and regular work is coming in. I enjoy running my own business (except for the admin) because it offers both technical and commercial challenges and rewards. I have gained confidence as an entrepreneur and at marketing and networking. The pleasure I get from fixing a PC problem or from assisting a customer with a computer issue is both greater and more immediate than I ever experienced in human resources and there's nothing like banking my own takings. I feel more alive, more competent and much happier than I have for years. My confidence away from the job has also increased.
How is your work-life balance?
Objectively viewed, it isn't at all balanced since I spend more hours per week working than I did in salaried employment and my leisure time is no longer so distinct. On the other hand it feels great to choose my own working hours and be able to fit other activities into my weekly schedule. Also, through gaining more focus when running the business and doing jobs, I also feel I can put more into and get more out of weekends, holidays, time off, voluntary commitments and personal relationships.
How was your launch and first few months as a franchisee?
I was anxious about launching, thinking I was not ready to take the plunge. When I did so and found I could do the work, albeit hesitantly at first, my confidence started to grow. Initially calls were few and far between, however as my advertising and marketing built up so did my customer base. Initially I was spending more than I was making but within a couple of months I could see the balance shifting and my monthly takings increasing. I still have lots to learn and need to apply myself to the commercial and administrative side of the business, which shouldn't be underestimated.
What are your future plans?
To consolidate the business both by capturing new customers and doing more work for established customers, both residential and small business. To build the business up over the duration of the first franchise term to a point where I can oversee my original area whilst expanding into an adjacent territory, perhaps ultimately becoming a hub franchisee.
What’s the best thing about being a PC PAL Franchisee?
For me there's no single answer to this question. I enjoy diagnosing and fixing problems as well as helping people buying, upgrading and setting up a PC. Marketing and business to business networking can be great fun. Meeting and getting feedback from a wide range of customers and in the process increasing my technical knowledge, experience and customer service skills is a privilege. Feeling both competent and confident in my work infects the rest of my life too. (kbp)
PC PAL (UK)
The PC PAL Franchise is the UKs leading provider of PC Repair and Support Franchises, providing on-site computer services to homes and small businesses.
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