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Harriet Blain: Lingotot Franchisee

Check out the below Q&A to find out more about Lingotot franchisee Harriet!

What’s your career background – what did you do before you joined Lingotot?

Before Lingotot, I was a secondary school MFL teacher and before that I worked as a researcher in parliament.

How did you first hear about franchising and what made you choose Lingotot?

I felt disillusioned by teaching (and how I would manage it long term with two children) and googled 'MFL Franchise'. A few options came up, but within about 20 minutes of reading all I could on the Lingotot website, registering my interest and downloading the franchisee information pack, I was pretty much hooked!

How does Lingotot fit into your daily life?

I work three days a week on Lingotot while my children are at nursery. One thing I love about it is that the job will be able to evolve with their routines – once they are at school I will be able to work 5 shorter days without checking with anyone or having to change my contract and I will still have the holidays with them (although I know I can work if I want or need to).

What have been your challenges and highlights so far?

The challenge is definitely worrying that I won't make enough money – I think that will always worry me and I need to learn patience and self-confidence – learning those things are on my business plan for next year because I think they'll be integral to increasing my income.

The highlights have been:

  • That I don't feel alone. I think franchising could be quite lonely, but although I run a business as a sole trader, I still feel part of a network of colleagues, which has been a pleasant surprise. I also think Lingotot is a very accessible Franchise - we can book calls almost every day and can communicate with the Franchisor or her team pretty much round the clock. I think that is a combination of technology, but also having chosen a really high-quality company and a very hard-working Franchisor.
  • The freedom of carving out your own path. Angela is so friendly and she really wants you to succeed, but not just by copying exactly what she's done. She really encourages and embraces Franchisees' ideas and she wants you to go your own way.
  • Exploring the world of marketing. Before I started my Lingotot journey, I had started following lots of independent businesses on social media. I was so inspired by some of their marketing campaigns and how creative marketing is. I feel very lucky that that's now part of my job and I'm really enjoying experimenting with different ideas and seeing how engaging they are to people.

What are your future goals?

As Angela would say – go big or go home! I would like to grow my business to the point where mums and dads across my territory have heard of me and Lingotot. I want word of mouth to be one of the main reasons people sign up to classes – not so that my marketing is easier, but because that, to me, is what success looks like. I'd like to generate enough money so that I can take my daughters on nice holidays so they can explore the world, but also do lots of extra-curricular activities if they want to. These come at a cost and I want my children to have choice. At the moment I'm just starting up, so I'll be running the classes. But I'd like to have the option to hire tutors to run them for me if I decide that I'd prefer to be more on the marketing and administration side of things. For me it's all about having choices and freedom, that's what I'm aiming for. I also want to have a career because I want my daughters to see that work can be fun and reap fantastic rewards.

What advice would you give to other people looking for a franchise?

Be patient and shop around. When I first started looking into the idea of franchising, I was in a rush to get started and came extremely close to signing up with another company (I'd even booked the air bnb for the training course!). At the last minute I realised that although I knew I'd like a franchise at some point, this one was not for me. It had a much more corporate feel and was much more prescriptive. I felt that at some point I'd be pushed into business decisions, instead of deciding what was best for me. On the contrary, my initial call with Angela was so friendly and relaxed. She explained her story and asked me about myself. She ended the call just saying she'd love me to join, but that if I decided not to that was fine and I wouldn't hear from her again unless I registered my interest again. There was nothing pushy or corporate about it. When I did sign up, I asked about the dress code for training (as I'd been told for the previous franchise that all training and events had a strict office dress code) and her reply was 'no – bring your slippers!'.

It is a very personal thing. I know some people are more comfortable in a corporate environment and would like to be given a bit more of a prescriptive model to follow, and that's fine. But it's not me. That is the wonderful thing about Franchising. Be selfish and follow your heart. It's like buying a house – you just know when you've found the one for you!

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