Wilkins Chimney Sweep Forges Links Between BFA and FSB

Louise Harris, Franchise Director of Wilkins Chimney Sweep, recently attended five half day seminars organised by the Thames Valley region of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) alongside members of the British Franchise Association (bfa) to promote franchising to forces communities.

When Louise, the daughter of an ex-Grenadier Guard and co-chair of EWIF (Encouraging Women into Franchising), discovered that the FSB were running a series of seminars aimed at providing advice on how to set up your own business for serving members of HM Forces and for ex-Forces, she felt it was of great value to attend and invited the bfa to join her.

Louise, who won EWIF’s New Woman Franchisor of the Year 2011 for always ‘doing it right’, knew that the presence of the bfa was vital at any event where franchising was being discussed.

The events were held at various venues across the Thames Valley region and were attended by approximately 200 serving and ex military delegates.

Pip Wilkin, Operations Manager of the BFA said: "We have found time and again that ex-forces personnel make excellent franchisees, but this relies on them getting the right information and advice from the outset. We must thank Louise for her hard work, proactive approach and dedication as a bfa-accredited franchisor in helping ensure that we were able to be involved in these important events."

Commenting on the events Louise said: "Having attended all five seminars I now have a much better insight into the concerns that face people when leaving the military and it was evident from talking to visitors they are very well informed. It is widely acknowledged, in our industry, that ex-military personnel offer some great skills in terms of discipline, tenacity, enthusiasm, persistence etc.

There are grants and low-cost loan funding available to ex-military through schemes such as the Royal British Legion’s ‘Be The Boss’ scheme to help them start up their own business and we are very much hoping some will choose to become a Wilkins Chimney Sweep."

FSB Regional Chair for the Thames Valley, David Knowles Leak said: "We were delighted when Louise, an FSB member, contacted us and offered her support and that of the bfa. Louise spent a lot of her own time attending each event and talking to the attendees, providing them with all the information they could need on setting up a franchise and we can’t thank her enough. When setting up on your own it is important to investigate every avenue and opportunity and having Louise and the bfa at each event ensured our delegates got some excellent information on buying a franchise business."

Reflecting on the types people she spoke to at the seminars Louise said: "The attendees we met were at various stages in their plans to leave the services and some had already left. It was quickly visible how careful these guys and girls were, all of them taking a considered and informed approach to owning a business. Some of them had clearly done a personal skills audit and knew where they wanted to be and what would suit them and the time they spent considering their next move showed some of the skills of planning and discipline that would make them excellent candidates for franchising."