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Yes, there’s Light at the End of the Tunnel!

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Yes, there’s Light at the End of the Tunnel!

We received a letter from one of our regular readers that really touched our hearts. We have been in this business for a very long time and hard-luck stories don’t generally impress us but this one was different.

The guy, let’s call him John to protect what’s left of his pride, basically told us that in his view, the world as he knew it had come to an end. In fact, he wasn’t sure anymore whether there was any point in carrying on. A shortened version of his story follows.

John had been working for the same company for more than 20 years. Having progressed from field service consultant to national franchise manager for a leading brand, he had always done his job with integrity and pride. Feedback from his superiors, linked to regular promotions, had confirmed this. It is not surprising, then, that John expected to work for the same firm until retirement age, perhaps reaching director status along the way.

Then, out of the blue, his boss told John that because of the economic downturn, management had to embark on a major retrenchment exercise. Unfortunately, John’s position would become redundant but there was no need to panic. He would receive a fair retrenchment package, so his immediate future would be taken care of.

John was absolutely stunned. He walked out of his boss’s office in a daze, unable to fully comprehend what had just happened. Uncharacteristically, he left work early and it was only on his way home that the extent of what he saw as betrayal by his employer hit home. Anger blinded him to reality at first and he thought that the company needed him more than he needed the job. Alas, a few days and many phone calls later, he started to realise that, given the state the economy is in, it would be almost impossible to secure alternative employment.

John knew that the fact that he is on the wrong side of his 40s doesn’t help matters and with two kids still at university, the retrenchment package would not last forever. These realisations prompted him to write to us, signing himself as ‘a loyal reader’ and hoping that we might be able to find him a job.

We weren’t convinced that by helping John to find another job we would do him a favour. Even if he finds a job now, who can say for sure that this scenario won’t repeat itself in a few years from now? By then, John would be in his 50s and probably unemployable. So what’s the answer?

We encouraged John to take stock of his situation then search deep within to ascertain whether starting his own business would not be a more lasting solution. John admitted that he had often dreamt of starting his own business but, given his family responsibilities, had been scared to take this ‘leap into the unknown’ as he so eloquently put it.

We had to remind John that in today’s competitive environment, job security had become an illusion and advised him to seek relative certainty by becoming a franchisee of a reputable franchisor. To establish his suitability for the role of franchisee, we put him through the e-Test . This is an instrument that predicts with amazing accuracy whether a candidate is likely to succeed as a franchisee.

To our delight, John passed the test with flying colours. We put him in touch with several franchisors and it did not take long before a proverbial ‘match made in heaven’ started to take shape. Because John could only come up with about 50% of the required investment, the franchisor introduced him to Absa Franchising . After taking a look at John’s background and his business plan, they did not hesitate to grant him a term loan for the purchase of the necessary equipment plus an overdraft facility to cover working capital needs.

Rather than sitting at home in the forlorn hope that a job offer will materialise, John took charge of his own future and is well on the way to success. We will track John’s development on an ongoing basis and hope to bring you a progress report at a later stage.

In the meantime, we would like to hear from readers who either find themselves in a similar predicament or saw the writing on the wall, changed course and are now operating successful businesses. If this is you, just drop us an email and we will arrange an interview. Good publicity at no cost, plus you will have the satisfaction to know that your example may inspire others to follow in your footsteps.

1. The E-Test is offered by Franchising Plus, South Africa’s leading franchise consultancy, in co-operation with a leading service provider in this field.

2. Absa Franchising offers funding to franchisees of reputable franchisors, subject to normal banking requirements. They can be contacted by calling 011 350 7933, writing to franchise@absa.co.za or visiting www.absa.co.za

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