George Sielicki is a former tour operator who made a late career change to franchising, in order to provide himself with a retirement income.
How did you get started?
Tubz: What kind of business were you looking for?
George: Something I could run myself, be my own boss, choose my own hours. Obviously, job satisfaction, to be happy doing what I was going to do.
T: What were you doing before?
G: I was working for a tour operator behind a computer. Monday-Friday, 9-5. It was okay. When I started it was three private owners, three directors who set it up. A couple of years later after I joined they decided to sell out, take the money and run for it. They sold out to the banks. Then everything went downhill. I got fed up.
T: Were you left without a job when that finished?
G: Yes. Well I was forced to leave because I was so fed up. A lot of us were doing quite important work and there were constant interruptions and extra tasks we had to do. That was the final straw.
T: What other options did you look at before you chose Tubz?
G: Quite a few. One franchise where you would be employed by a number of estate agents to put up for sale signs, and look after the signs. Then there was an internet estate agency. There were a couple of other things that I looked at but I was looking for something fairly straight forward, nothing complicated, without too big an investment.
What challenges did you face?
T: When you decided to start up with Tubz, what challenges were you expecting?
G: Initially it looked fairly straight-forward. Going round pubs or social clubs, topping the machine up, emptying it, giving it a bit of a clean, making sure everything’s okay then going away. That was it, it sounded straight-forward. You go in, take the money out, top it up, clean it, go away. You do that about eight or ten times a day. When the reality set in I realised there was more to it than that.
T: How long did it take to get up and running?
G: About six months. Site finding is not that easy these days, but they [Tubz] found some sites and it was a gradual build up. Once I got to 30-40, I was getting into the swing of things. I was still working part time for the tour operator. Once I got to 35-50 machines that’s when I packed up with the tour operator.
T: How easy was it to find suitable sites, or did Tubz do that for you?
G: I tried to find my own sites but that’s not that easy because at the same time you’re looking after your business. You pop into a potential site, but the person you want to speak to may not be there. Because of this I initially left everything up to Tubz.
What were your goals?
T: What were your goals when you first started out?
G: To make it into a profitable business. Not work too many hours a week, take it steady, but have a reasonable return. The job is an enjoyable job, you get out and about, you meet all sorts of people.
Plus the fact that Tubz has a contract with Starlight, the charity, which does help. I gain everything; I gain supporting a charity – if it’s not Starlight then some of the pubs or social clubs or hotels, they’ve got their own charities to support. So, there are good causes, I meet all sorts of people and the hours are my own.
How is business now?
T: You said after six months you had 35-40 machines, how many do you have now?
G: I did have about 120 but I’ve lost a few sites. I’d say, at the minute, I’ve got about 110 machines in sites.
T: Would you say that is enough to bring in a comfortable income?
G: I’d like another 15 or 20. Some of the ones I’ve got are really good, most are good. At the minute I’ve got about 15 spare machines going so could do with finding a few more sites.
T: What kind of income do you bring in?
G: I make a reasonable living. I pay for the bills, I pay the expenses. I won’t be a millionaire, but it’s reasonable.
T: So you aim to get a few more machines out there?
G: I’d like to get another 15 machines out.
T: How much of your week would that take up if you had 120 or so machines?
G: I used to go round every two weeks but I find with some sites it’s enough to go round every three to four weeks.
My theory is that if somebody has got their favourite sweets and they sell out, but they’ve got a craving for a bit of sugar, then they’ll try something else. Seems to be working on the whole. When I went round once a fortnight, an average machine would sell about 30 products. If I go round every three to four weeks, it’s more like 60 or 70. Sometimes the whole machine is emptied.
I’m finding that I don’t need to go out as often but I’m trying to make sure that most of the sites I do go to, if they’re running short, give me a call. It saves me time and expense, and allows me a little time off. The nice thing about the job is I can work whichever days I like.
T: So you enjoy the flexibility it has given you?
G: Yes. Overall, it’s a nice, pleasant job. There’s a lot of job satisfaction. You meet a lot of people, you’re your own boss, working for good causes, which does help.
What are your plans?
T: What are your business plans for the future?
G: I’m getting on a bit, almost 65. So I’m looking forward to taking it a bit easier. I’ve got a colleague across the road and I’m hoping that he might help me out a bit. So if I do take the time off, he’s there to help out. If I go away for a week, he can take calls and go out in case of emergencies.
T: So it’s a retirement income?
G: Yes. I think, these days, with all the bills coming in, you do need to work that extra bit.
Read about another retiree who has chosen franchising to provide an income here.
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