At just 25 years old, Craig Allen swapped his Deputy Managers role with a national retailer for self-employment as a Dream Doors franchisee, giving him the work-life balance he'd always craved.
“I'd worked my way up through the ranks, starting out as a part-timer on the shop floor at 16 and becoming a store supervisor by the time I was 21,” says Craig. “But as my responsibilities increased, so did my hours – exponentially! It got to a point where I'd leave the house before my partner got up and return home so late at night that she'd already gone to bed! I had no life outside of work.
“There's a culture within the retail sector that sets expectations way too high,” he adds. “So, while you might be contracted to work 40 hours a week, you're held accountable to the job itself, not your hours. And that's fine for a while. But when you're increasingly expected to work yourself into the ground, where the job takes over your life and your stress levels go through the roof, those expectations become both unacceptable and unsustainable.”
“Since joining Dream Doors I've never looked back.”
Recognising the need to change career was simple, says Craig. And finding that Dream Doors, the UK's largest kitchen facelift retailer and an award-winning franchise brand, had an existing business for sale less than 20 miles from him was perfect timing.
“I took over the business in the January and, to be frank, the transition from employee to employer and business owner was pretty seamless,” Craig says. “The work itself is not that different from what I was doing before, but the experience couldn't be further removed. I'm in charge and, at last, I'm able to balance my work and my life! I've put a team in place who are all playing to their strengths and I know this business can only grow, giving me a future with financial freedom and security. We've just had the biggest month this showroom has ever achieved, coming close to £100,000 of sales in one month!.
“I'd recommend a franchise to anyone else who is in the same position I was back then,” adds Craig. “You need personal discipline and drive, of course, but being part of a franchised brand has given me access to a supply chain, economies of scale and support that I couldn't hope for on my own.”