Naomi Turrell & Leanne Penn - Cheshire & Manchester Pillow Partners Franchisees
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your Pillow Partners franchise business?
I’m Naomi. I was on furlough from my job as cabin crew for EasyJet before I took on the Pillow Partners franchise. I had been doing a job I loved for almost 5 years until the Covid-19 Pandemic hit. Whilst I was binge watching The Last Kingdom I decided to start a business looking after other people’s holiday homes. I felt my previous background in hospitality and property management would lend itself well to it and I started building a business plan. I found Pillow Partners in the process and the rest is history.
I’m Leanne, I was working part time for a P.E. software sales company before starting with Pillow. Initially, I was just going to do a few extra hours admin for Naomi but as her portfolio started to grow and get busier, I decided that I’d be foolish not to get in on the action. So, I decided to buy into the franchise too and now we run the two regions together as partners.
Why did you go down the franchise route? What made you choose property management industry? And why Pillow Partners?
N. I was planning to do this by myself initially and during the process of creating my business plan, I found Pillow Partners and their franchise opportunity. After having a discussion with COO Emma Wolfe, it seemed like a no-brainer to go down this route. It would have taken me years to grow by myself and I would have had to continue to struggle alongside another job. Meanwhile Pillow Partners would have continued to grow and expand rapidly so it seemed the sensible thing to do to essentially not get left behind. But more than anything, having the back up of a network of experienced property managers behind me was too good to pass up. What’s more they’ve got a marketing budget and tools that it would have taken me years to develop on my own.
Before I was crew, I had a background in hospitality, so I understand travellers and their needs. I also understand how to manage dynamic pricing, reservations and revenue. I didn’t want to go back to working in a hotel or restaurant, so I decided to use the skills I had in a different way.
L. I had not planned any of this to be honest! I bought the franchise because I could see it was a great opportunity. I don’t have much experience in the industry, but I can sell snow to Eskimos!
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
We were provided with workbooks to complete at the beginning and then a two day training course. We were also allocated a mentor to help guide us to our 1st 10 properties. There is a community social media page that we use consistently for help, advice and support from our wider network. We have regular monthly training calls as well as being offered various outsourced training such as customer experience or sales.
How would you describe your day-to-day role as a franchisee?
Varied! Some days can be mainly office based, catching up with admin, emails enquiries etc. Other days we might be out doing property visits, viewings or inspections and then at other times we’ll be busy setting up new properties or networking. No 2 days are the same that is for sure.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Yes, it’s completely changed our lives! Both of us have been able to leave our previous jobs and replace our incomes within one year of starting up. We cannot imagine ever going back to being employed now. We have control over our own lives now. We are not dictated to by a set income, we can choose when and how we work. We are the masters of our own destiny!!!
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
Well the Pillow Partners emergency phone line is a life saver. It is manned 365 days per year with each franchisee taking it for a week at a time. That means that guests can contact someone at any time without interrupting our down time.
It is also important to create personal boundaries though too. For example, we chose not to answer calls to owners past 7pm at night or on weekends as much as possible. Thank fully with there being two of us, we can take turns to be uncontactable if necessary. Our guests and owners have both of our information so if one of us wants a day off we can!
Pillow Partners are also very good at accommodating holidays. If we both had leave at the same time, we could pass our portfolio to a neighbouring franchisee and they would assist us until we return.
What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?
If it feels right, it probably is. Go with your gut!
In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
Dedication, drive and immersing yourself in the culture of your franchise.
What are your plans for the future?
To be the biggest and best property management company in Cheshire and Manchester.
If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?
Would have just done it sooner!!