Why Nigel Fitzimmons decided that starting a pet sitting franchise was the best choice for him.

Nigel of PHG Bognor Regis and Chichester, http://www.phg-bognor-regis.co.uk has been running his pet sitting business for a year now, so we thought it would be a great time to speak to him to find out how he is getting on, and also to find out what made him take the leap of faith into starting his business.

When Nigel was thinking about setting up a franchise, he was working as the Sales and Marketing Manager of a theatre in West Sussex.  He had always considered starting his own business for a number of years, as he knew that with his skills and experience, he just knew he could make a real success out of it.  As we see so often when speaking to new franchisees, they want the reward and satisfaction of seeing something start and then grow, and Nigel was no different.  He was unhappy in his employed role, and after many years debating, realised it was time to change.

Becoming a pet sitter isn’t always the first career choice that springs to mind for some people (yet), however Nigel had owned pets all his life, ranging from cats, dogs, fish, guinea pigs and more, so for him it seemed a natural choice to start a pet sitting business.

So we asked him how he started doing his research, as for Nigel, he wasn’t necessarily looking for a franchise.  He already knew Peter and Julie through previous work, and taking that first step into self-employment with people he knew and trusted felt right.  When Nigel first thought about PHG, he spoke with a good number of the current franchisees.  He said he had so many questions and they were all so patient and ready to give their advice and knowledge.  He researched the local competition and spoke with other self-employed friends and acquaintances to understand more about the pros and cons of becoming self-employed.  After his extensive research, he knew he was making the right decision.

We know it is no easy step to branch out on your own, but Nigel knew that the PHG model was a successful business model, however it did still take him some months to make the ultimate decision.  He recalls it being a scary time in his life, as like many other people he had a mortgage and no second income.  Nigel did decide to take in a lodger to minimise any risks,

  1. How did you make the decision to change? How long did it take? Was there anything that defined the moment?

It took me months to finally make my ultimate decision! It was scary for me as like many people, I had a mortgage and no partner and therefore no second income. I decided to take in a lodger to really try and minimise the risk. I think it all became real for me when I went to the offices in Horsham and signed the contract. The training day was also another moment in time where I thought – I’m really about to start my own business!

  1. How did you feel once you had made the decision to change?

What an amazing feeling! I was nervous, but so excited and have never been more determined to make something work.

  1. How long have you been running your business?

I can hardly believe my first birthday of the business is nearly upon me! So much has happened in a year – I’m elated with the results.

  1. How have you found it? What has the support been like from PHG?

With the simple fact that many small business fail within the first year, I was really nervous about giving up my well-paid, full-time position and making the transition to the mostly unknown – being self-employed. Really quickly, I developed a strong customer base and heading into summer, it had me working all hours by choice and the business has gone from strength to strength! The Directors of PHG are always at the end of the phone or PC if you need any support and I’ve had a number of review meetings within my first year to check-in and talk through any issues.

  1. Favourite part of the job?

I love seeing my favourite pets and customers. Knowing that a customer trusts you with their pet – their absolute life, is so rewarding, not to mention the fact that they trust you with the keys to their house – their worldly possessions. They love seeing how happy you make their pets and they’re so grateful, which makes me feel so good.

  1. Favourite (or favourites) moment(s) of the job?

I have received some beautiful testimonials, cards and presents from customers. It is sometimes hard work as well as being an absolute pleasure, but it’s so lovely to hear just how much people appreciate and trust you.

  1. What tip would you give to someone who isn’t sure whether to make the change and start a PHG franchisee?

I would advise them to do their research well, speak to other PHG franchisees thoroughly, speak to self-employed friends and family and then make the right, informed decision. The model is tried and tested, so to a large degree, it speaks for itself. I’ve certainly not looked back in a year and am excited for the coming year seeing PHG Bognor Regis & Chichester grow.