Working mums (and dads, to be fair!) have a lot to juggle and it’s often a challenge to keep all of the plates spinning. We can feel pulled between our professional and personal lives and often wish that there was a way we could keep all parties happy – our bosses, our families, and, importantly, ourselves.
We spoke to Samantha, who co-owns the Basingstoke & Berkshire Time For You franchise with her husband, Alasdair. And Samantha had more reason than most to want maximum professional flexibility.
Here’s Samantha’s Incredible Story:
Prior to starting my Time For You business, I had worked for the same company for 27 years. I left school at 16-years-old and joined a YTS scheme. This was 1986. I stayed with the same company until 2013. At that point, I was a Customer Services Manager responsible for a team of Customer Services Executives. I loved it! It was a great office to work in and I had made so many friends but, after 27 years, I was starting to think that I wanted to do something different and had dreams of one day working for myself. I also had another real good reason for wanting things to change…
We have a daughter with special needs. Charlotte was born 4 months premature at 24 weeks, weighing 1lb 9oz in 2007. It was becoming clear, after a few years, that juggling work and Charlotte’s needs was going to be quite a challenge as she grew older. She attended a mainstream nursery that was located just behind my office so I was always close by if needed, however, it was very noticeable she was delayed and during her nursery years she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, moderate hearing loss and severe learning difficulties.
In 2011, Charlotte started school and was placed in a wonderful school for special children like herself. However, school holidays were a concern and finding the right childcare was difficult. My husband and I split our holidays so we could care for Charlotte and only spent 2 weeks of the year together as a family. There were also still numerous hospital and therapy appointments to attend and I felt guilty for needing to take time off work to take Charlotte to the appointments. I knew something had to change but I just couldn’t give up a good job of 27 years. Then, in 2013, the opportunity arose to apply for voluntary redundancy. I knew I had to go for it and take the risk to leave the only company I had ever worked for, as we really needed things to change.
I Stumbled Across Time For You Franchise
I wanted to buy into a franchise where I could use my skills as a manager and also a franchise that would give me the flexibility that I needed for Charlotte. I didn’t really know what I was looking for, in all honesty, but I stumbled across Time For You during an internet search.
I’m so glad I did! I sent off for some details and the very next day Freddie Rayner (Time For You’s Managing Director) phoned me to give me more information.
Freddie encouraged me to phone other franchisees so I could get an honest view of what running a Time For You franchise business would be like. After positive phone calls, I set up a meeting with Freddie and his wife, Ruth. It was a really positive meeting and I couldn’t have been more excited when I left knowing that I had found what I was looking for! As I drove off I shouted: “YES”! I was SO happy! Everything just felt right, I had no doubts at all following that meeting so I moved forward with buying the franchise.
I Had Doubts…
I started my Time For You business in January 2014 and the reality of what I had done kicked in really quickly and, sadly, not in a good way… I started to wonder if I had done the right thing. Was I right to give up my job of 27 years? Had I done the right thing for my family? Would I make this work and would it be a success? Would I enjoy it? Initially, at the start, I was full of doubts and I also felt very lonely. Having spent 27 years in a busy office environment, working for a lovely company and having great friends, I was missing the company and the office banter. I was not happy and I was struggling to adapt.
I tried to put the doubts to one side and as I’m a very determined person; I just got on with things and I was really pleased to sign 35 clients within the first 3 months. On the outside, it would seem as if things were going brilliantly but I was still full of self-doubt and I worried about everything. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and, if the smallest thing went wrong, I would get myself in a terrible state over things. These things seem so trivial now but, at the time, the smallest of things would give me sleepless nights and this was now really starting to affect me and I started to regret my decision.
Then something happened that was about to make things even more difficult! Charlotte who had mild/moderate hearing loss and wore hearing aids lost all of her hearing pretty much overnight. Due to her learning difficulties we had yet to build up good communication with her, she was only just saying a few words when she lost her hearing, so our life with Charlotte would become very hard. We had daily tantrums and big problems with her behaviour. She couldn’t understand why one day she could hear and the next she could not. It was heartbreaking to watch how frustrated she was.
Charlotte was referred to the Auditory Implant Centre in Southampton University and we had to take Charlotte to lots of appointments to assess if she was indeed profoundly deaf and whether she would be eligible for cochlear implants. So my focus had really moved away from the business and onto Charlotte. The good thing was, however, that with my new business I now had the flexibility I needed to go anywhere with Charlotte at any time and not have to worry about taking time off work. Although I was still incredibly stressed most of the time, and still questioning my decision to leave a stable job and buy into the franchise, I was just starting to see some benefits.
Towards the end of 2014, Charlotte had been through all the tests, and an operation for bilateral cochlear implants was booked for the 16th December and so I was happy that things were moving forward and we could try and get back to some normality with the start of a new year nearing! All went really well and 2014 drew to a close with us excitedly waiting for the big ‘switch on’ in January, and with that hoping that 2015 would be a better year.
Finishing The First Year
You could say my first year of running my Time For You business didn’t exactly go to plan. I finished the year on around 70 clients, which was ok, but not where I had wanted to be at the end of my first year. But I survived! I still really wasn’t sure whether I had done the right thing but I was now getting used to things and the little things that had previously sent me over the edge was now like water off a duck’s back!
As the New Year began, Charlotte’s hearing was “switched on” and she was doing great. I was now able to focus a little more on building the business and reached 100 clients by the April and certainly was now starting to feel differently about the business. I was becoming excited about our future and I could really see how I could make this work and how this could change our lives – for the better!
Now, 6 years on, it’s not just me running the business: it’s now a proper, family-run enterprise! My husband, Alasdair, left his IT job in 2016 to join me and we haven’t looked back since. We love it! I now find it hard to believe that I ever had any doubts. We have great support from Head Office and we love being part of the Time For You family.
Benefits of Investing In A Franchise
The key benefit of running our Time For You business is being able to run the business on our terms: we run our business from home and we have the business at the size that is right for us as a family. We have achieved the perfect work/life balance and we couldn’t be happier. We don’t have any worries about booking time off work to take Charlotte to an appointment, or our holidays clashing with others in the office or having to split our holidays to look after Charlotte anymore. We now spend all the school holidays together.
We purchased a touring caravan the same year Alasdair left his job (thank you, Time For You!) and we go on lots of holidays each year now and spend most of the summer away touring around the UK. We never neglect the business, though. We may be away but we are always available for our clients and cleaners, whether we are in the UK or even abroad! We run the business from wherever we are. Some may think it must be difficult having to keep an eye on the business and work when on holiday, but not really. Time For You is just a way of life now and the positives far outweigh that.
I would most certainly recommend a friend to Time For You. If you are prepared to work hard – and accept there will be some blood, sweat and tears, especially in the first few months – then Time For You will give you something that surely everyone wants: FREEDOM, the perfect WORK / LIFE balance and not forgetting, a GOOD INCOME!
For more information on becoming a Time For You franchisee, or if you have any other questions, please contact us here.
If you are interested in learning more about Charlotte’s incredible journey, visit www.charlottelow.com.
Great Pull-Out Quotes:
“If you are prepared to work hard – and accept there will be some blood, sweat and tears, especially in the first few months – then Time For You will give you something that surely everyone wants: FREEDOM, the perfect WORK / LIFE balance and not forgetting, a GOOD INCOME!” – Samantha Low, TFY Basingstoke & Berkshire.
“Now, 6 years on, it’s not just me running the business: it’s now a proper, family-run enterprise! My husband, Alasdair, left his IT job in 2016 to join me and we haven’t looked back since. We love it!” – Samantha Low, TFY Basingstoke & Berkshire.
“The key benefits of running our Time For You business is being able to run the business on our terms: we run our business from home and we have the business at the size that is right for us as a family. We have achieved the perfect work/life balance and we couldn’t be happier.” – Samantha Low, TFY Basingstoke & Berkshire.
“We go on lots of holidays each year and spend most of the summer away touring around the UK. We never neglect the business, though. We may be away but we are always available for our clients and cleaners, whether we are in the UK or even abroad! We run the business from wherever we are.” – Samantha Low, TFY Basingstoke & Berkshire.