The ultimate guide to franchise success: Insider tips from top franchisor Darren Taylor

Cut through the noise with this no-holds-barred guide to franchising success - from a true expert

The ultimate guide to franchise success: Insider tips from top franchisor Darren Taylor

There are hundreds of ‘how to’ success guides but very few are written by someone who has actually done it themselves. Darren Taylor went from security camera salesman to owning multiple franchises and a PLC in just 17 years. Get the low-down on the most important things to do to make your franchise a success.

In case you didn’t know, I have been in Franchising since 2006.  I started out simply as a franchisee with StumpBusters, grinding out tree stumps from commercial and domestic settings.  I had no experience in any kind of horticultural work, I was a salesman selling security cameras, I just spotted a franchise opportunity and went for it.

Fast forward 17 years and I now own, or part own, nine franchise brands and have just launched a PLC, Incergo, which will be made up of franchise businesses.

So, if you were to ask me, ‘Can I make money from franchising?’ I’d tell you, unequivocally yes, I am living proof that you can.

Inevitably some of you will think there’s something I’m not telling you, that I had a wealthy family who bankrolled my purchases or something that made working life easier, well that’s simply not the case. I worked incredibly hard and as a result, I have been successful. No tricks. No inherited wealth, just hard graft and determination, which is why I am so confident in saying that if I can do it, so can you.

So, what would I put my success down to? As you may have seen, I have written many articles about franchising for Elite Franchise and in this one, I will tell you exactly how I made such a success of my business.

Desire to succeed

To be really successful, you need a strong drive to succeed, and I don’t just mean financially. You must really want to build and grow. In my mind, if I’m not growing, I’m going backwards. As a schoolboy with very little interest in the core subjects at school, I excelled at a business studies project to start a business. The teachers were amazed and said, ‘If only he put as much effort into his other subjects’. I had found what lit my fire and it set me on the path I am on today.

Liquid capital

If you are going to buy a franchise or start any new business, you need to make sure you have enough liquid capital to keep a roof over your head and all the bills paid for at least 12 months, until you start turning a profit. Don’t go into it thinking you are going to start earning big bucks overnight, it won’t happen, and you’ll get disappointed and deem it a failure. It isn’t a failure; you just didn’t have enough cash to get you through to the part where you make the money. Any good franchisor will make you list your outgoings so you can work out how much you need before they let you buy one of their franchises. Luckily banks are very good at lending for franchise purchases these days. Don’t over-stretch yourself though or it could all go horribly wrong. 

Franchise Research

As I sit here now, I can tell you my first purchase of a StumpBusters franchise was almost entirely on gut feeling. I didn’t do enough research, which was foolish. Luckily it all worked out, but my advice now would be ‘do your research’ before buying a franchise. Click here for a previous article I wrote on the subject:

Stick to the franchise model

I am not usually one for repeating the same mantras as other franchisors, but this is my exception, ‘stick to the model’, and don’t deviate, especially in your first year.

Assuming you have bought into a franchise with say at least 20 franchisees that has been running successfully for a while then just follow the model. There’s a reason their franchisees are successful, and it isn’t because they found a ‘better way’ of doing things. I can’t say this enough ‘Stick to the model’. Failure to do so is one of my three ‘Unforgivable sins’ of franchising. Read more by clicking here:


Do plenty of marketing/advertising for your new business. 17 years ago, when I first started off with StumpBusters, I was a big fan of direct mail. Even today it still cuts past the email delete button. If I really wanted to win a client, I’d handwrite the envelope, it instantly differentiates it from the rest of the junk mail landing on the mat.  Back in the day, I had many a tree surgeon say, ‘I only opened your letter because it was handwritten, and I thought there was a cheque inside!’  #RIPCheques. 

Your franchisor will tell you the best way to market/advertise your business. Do as they tell you first and anything else you want to try second. Today you’d be a fool not to use Facebook and other social media channels to market your business.


I would like to think one of the reasons I have been successful is my ability to communicate with people. As a dyslexic person, I prefer face-to-face meetings to email exchanges.  When you buy a franchise, you become a salesperson and it is important to learn how to read your client’s body language and also be aware of your own. You need to learn how to gain your client’s trust, so they feel comfortable doing business with you.

Growing your franchise

Once you are settled into your business and ready to expand, it is time to take on your first member of staff. I would be lying if I said ‘organic growth’ wasn’t the hardest part of owning a business. You suddenly see a large chunk of your profit going to pay an employee which can be very painful but equally, you can’t grow your business without it. #RockHardPlace. 

When you get to 4-5 staff things get easier as they begin to form a team and can provide cover when one is off sick or on annual leave. I’d suggest taking the plunge and doing it sooner rather than later. A good franchisor will talk you through all stages of the recruitment process and be there to ‘hold your hand’ whilst you take the first steps to growth. Why not talk to existing franchisees about how they grew their businesses too for some first-hand expert advice.?

Borrowing Money

Don’t be afraid to borrow money to expand. I got a loan from the bank to buy my first franchise territory. Later, I got loans to buy entire businesses. The more loans you get and the more you pay them back, the easier it is to borrow. Having been in the business a fair while now, and successfully repaid every loan as and when required, lenders are comfortable lending me larger and larger sums of money. Many years ago, I took out a loan against my family home; I wouldn’t ever do that again. The risk was too great. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a big believer in taking risks, although less so as I am getting older, but I wouldn’t recommend risking your family home. I have also sunk my own capital into buying businesses, selling off some of my own territories to fund the purchase of another business. Be confident, take risks and borrow where you need to.

The great thing about buying a franchise is your franchisor will be there to help you through every step of the way. Franchisors give franchisees access to our ‘handbook’. A document developed over the lifetime of the franchise, telling you how to do absolutely everything, from accounts to marketing and customer service to insurance. It will all be there in black and white, put that together with your experienced franchisor at the end of the phone and you’re ready to fly. For goodness’ sake, please ask for help too. We say that if you aren’t our most regular caller in the first few months then there’s something wrong, we need to hear from you, almost daily, we want to hear from you, and you need to ask for help.

I wish you the greatest of luck in your ventures, do check out all my other franchising advice articles to help you choose the right franchise and be a successful franchisee. Good luck!

Darren Taylor
Darren Taylor