Case Study - Caroline Weatherston

The Poverina, Middlesbrough

Franchising is a great way for people of all backgrounds and ages to become their own boss and Marston’s franchisee Caroline Weatherston is an excellent example of this.

Caroline runs The Poverina, an old established pub that was once a Coaching Inn, at Normanby on the outskirts of Middlesbrough. Before becoming a franchisee, 30 year old Caroline had been employed by Marston’s across a variety of roles, working her way up to being a Pub Manager until she decided to take her first step into self-employment in 2013.

“I started with a part-time, weekend job as a Barmaid and it never occurred to me that, within a few short years, I could be running my own pub business,” Caroline comments. “At the time I was employed as a pharmacy technician with a qualification in pharmacy law and ethics. I took the bar work just to earn some extra cash but was surprised to find how much I enjoyed it. I like people and love talking so building relationships with customers came easily to me. The more I did it, the more I realised that my future lay in the hospitality sector and not the pharmacy trade which I had trained for.”

Caroline feels that the experience she gained through working as a Pub Manager played a big role in equipping her with the skills and knowledge required to become a franchisee. “I loved it and it fuelled my ambition to work for myself,” she said. “I realised that if I was my own boss, there would be more opportunities, more scope to increase my earnings potential and, within reason, I would be able to do things my way. I would have a great deal more control and flexibility.

"When I first heard about franchising I was skeptical, but as I learned more and began to gain an understanding of the benefits and opportunities it offered, I became very positive. I decided that this was an ideal, low risk way forward for me and couldn’t wait to get started. Franchising has enabled me to have my own pub at a young age and certainly years earlier than I could have even thought about doing it on my own,” Caroline continues.

Now that Caroline has achieved her goal of having her own business, she is setting high standards for the pub and has focused on recruiting first class people to work with her and her partner Kai, who is also the chef at the Poverina. “It’s vital to ensure you employ the right people with the right attitude, who then become a cohesive, hard-working and loyal team,” she says. However, running The Poverina is just the start for her as she wants to have five pubs within the next 10 years. She says that this is both realistic and achievable as a franchisee, particularly with Marston’s encouragement and support.

At the same time she has just enrolled on a Business Accountancy and Management course at a local university. “I love a challenge,” she says enthusiastically. “This will help me to gain new skills and experience, as well as adding value to the business.”

Caroline says that franchising offers the potential to earn more money, but only if you do it right by following the franchisor’s system. “Follow the tried and tested system and you are likely to succeed, however you must be prepared to put in the hard work to be successful. I firmly believe that no-one values a business as much as its owner because so much is at stake, both personally and professionally – your reputation, home and income as well as responsibility to your staff and your suppliers.”

Marston’s Franchise Operations Manager, Dave Price, supports this sentiment: “The fact that our franchisees receive a generous percentage share of the pub’s profit, in addition to turnover, means that we are both working toward the same goal – making the business as profitable as possible. We are looking for people who share Caroline’s enthusiasm, ambition and determination to succeed. We offer a genuine opportunity for people to be their own boss with training, ongoing support and advice from experienced support staff when franchisees need it.”

A Marston’s Pub franchise costs £15,000 plus £15,000-£20,000 working capital. No previous experience of the hospitality or catering sector is required as all aspects of running a pub franchise are covered by Marston’s comprehensive training and ongoing support programme.