From client to franchisee, it is obvious The Firm worked for Princess
Name: Princess Marais
Location: Durban, Bluff
Franchise: The Firm
Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose your franchise?
I was always a chubby kid growing up and this changed, when I joined The Firm at the Square. I went down from 90kg to a size 32. This changed my life completely. No words can describe the feeling of being able to go shopping and know that the clothes are going to fit nicely. I remember my first “Thin Christmas”, where I went on a shopping spree. The shop assistants had to bring me a rack to place all my garments. Someone wanted to know if it was for a fashion show and I proudly said: “No, it’s all mine”. I wanted to share my secret with the world and I wanted to help other people that were going through similar issues.
What did you do before taking up a franchise?
I worked for an Insurance company for 10 years and made the decision to leave my job when I was pregnant with triplets.
How did you raise the finance?
It took me 1 year to convince my husband to buy the franchise and we took out an access bond. It was scary, as there was a lot of pressure, as this was our first time owning a business.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
We were given 2 weeks training and there was ongoing support. It helped keeping in touch with other franchisees to share similar experiences.
What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
It’s important to build good relationships with the clients, so I spend a big part of my day encouraging and motivating them.
What challenges have you faced?
My clinic did not run successfully for the first 5 years, as I could not be in my clinic due to the birth of the girls. My husband was hijacked and killed 1yr after the birth of the girls. I went through depression and I began comfort eating and my weight increased. The challenge came in whereby I needed to get back into the clinic, but felt more depressed as I was embarrassed about my weight. I had to pick myself up quickly, as I was battling financially. I made the decision there and then that I was not going to let my weight get in the way of my success. I knew that I was passionate about people and that I could help others to achieve their results. I also found healing by helping others, as it’s such an amazing feeling when you see the transformation of the clients. I knew that the best form of advertising was word of mouth, so I focussed on getting results and the referrals poured in. I remember sitting in previous franchise meetings and feeling depressed, as I would hear how well the other branches were doing. I kept telling myself that if they could do it, then I could do it. I made a record when I had my clinic at 176 clients. I also received a lot of support from the new franchisors and the franchise owner (Keri) from the Hillcrest branch, spent a Saturday assisting me when I had to move premises. I realised that I was not alone and was part of a team.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
It has given me the flexibility I need as a single mom to 5 yr old triplet girls.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
The owner has to be present in their clinic. It makes a difference to the clients, as they feel that you are interested in their weight loss journey.
What are your plans for the future?
My focus is getting results as this will ensure that I am running my business successfully. I am passionate and confident about our brand and am happy to continue doing what I love best.
Would you do it again?