Life as a franchisee
However, she points out that although it has been good for her, franchising is not for everyone.
“People shouldn’t expect to be millionaires in a year, it isn’t going to happen,” she says.
Gent has a great passion for O’Brien’s, she really thinks the product and the concept of the company is good. This is essential as she like most franchisees have to spend many hours at work.
“I work from about 12 hours a day from 6.15am until 6pm so it’s 12 hours a day. I do a six-day week and then a five-day week, although I often have to do a stock-check on Sundays. During last Christmas I did one on Boxing Day.
“Also you never really switch off when you get home and you just can’t stop thinking about it.”
There are also many challenges when you run your own business.
“Staffing is probably the biggest problem. Just when you think you have got it right someone can leave. Also, trade is hard to predict, if you could get that right you would be coining it in.”
However, the business is profitable; the two stores combined pull in about £11,000 turnover each week. Gent hopes that this will lead to further expansion and wants to open another store within the next 12 months - provided the figures are right.
“We were going to buy another store last year but then we thought ‘hang on we have had a really bad summer’. We thought that it was just a blip at the time but then we realised it was more than that. You can never take your eye off the ball.”
A change of management at one of the stores was required and some personal intervention from Gent who managed to turn things around.
Gent knows that she and her husband can never take the business for granted; they don’t take holidays together anymore, as one of them must always stay with the business.
The next step
Nevertheless, she is confident for the future and is aiming for 10% growth this year at her stores.
“To some extent we are in it for the money. I wouldn’t work 60 hours a week for nothing.
“I love running the stores but it does come with a price.”
Read more about franchising.