Franchising, A solution for the sole trader,

by Gerald Michaluk

Administration is another headache for the sole trader: financial management and billing, as well as keeping an eye on the accounts takes your time away from consulting.

Mead recommends writing out a business plan to deal with VAT issues, information technology support, and, most importantly, ensuring that sole traders upgrade their training.

"You have to be very self-disciplined, and you need to sell hard and be very self-confident and positive," says Mead. "It takes a long time to develop all that."

Time is certainly an issue, but Gerald Michaluk, managing director of Marketing Management Services, and formerly a lecturer at Strathclyde University, thinks that he has found an answer. In November this year, he plans to launch Going Solo, an Internet franchise call centre operation where sole trader consultants can get administration and research support.

"If they use our franchise they will spend less time on administration, credit control, and research, and will actually spend more time with clients and therefore earn more money." says Michaluk.

The cost of the 24-hour franchise service is 25,000 which includes a training certificate from the University of Strathclyde on management consultancy, based on BSENISO9001 and manuals on how to run a consultancy business and balance the books. The firm also supplies consultants with a video phone, ISDN, computers and laptop access to the call centre in Dunbartonshire via a docking station. After that consultants are only required to pay a royalty fee on all their projects, they get the research and administration support at cost.

Consultants would have to operate under the Going Solo brand, but for that they also get access to customer lists and tenders for projects, says Michaluk. The main benefit is individual franchise group consultancy support and the help of mentor, whose aim is to make the business grow.

"A lot of people who go out on their own underestimate the difficulties," says Michaluk. "They are Mr Smith Consulting and not Price Waterhouse, and companies tend to buy brand names for the security because they can sue or pass on the blame. In the research that we conducted, the consultants leaving Coopers & Lybrand are billed out at 1,500 per day. But the longer the consultant is away from the Big Six the less they get paid. I can pick up an ex-Price Waterhouse consultant for 250. What we are offering with our franchise scheme is a way out of that.

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© Marketing Management Services International 2011