Waking up blind in one eye with no warning gave Tricia Ballantyne a new perspective on life that has ultimately led her to launch her own property franchise business.
With help from Business Gateway Clackmannanshire, the 61-year-old set up Homepage Property Services (HPS) in Tillicoultry last October to fulfil a dream and help bolster her pension pot.
Now, just three months on, Tricia, a trained accountant and experienced property developer who has invested £40k into the venture, has already sold a Glasgow franchise and has four other franchisee enquiries from people looking to invest in her business model for other areas of Scotland.
Alongside the standard services offered by commercial and residential estate agents, the business differentiates itself by offering market ready surveys and provides expert advice on Rent to Buy. Landscape gardening, interior design, and property staging are also offered.
Tricia said: “I’d worked for a number of multi-million pound businesses before running my own successful accountancy firm for 17 years. In 2012, I woke up blind in my left eye and was told I could potentially go blind in my right within three years so I sold my business to focus on my health and my family. Thankfully I didn’t go completely blind.
“The idea for the franchise was driven by the fact I’ve still to put my youngest son through university and, like many people who paid into pension funds, I want to retire in four years’ but my current pension is dire. Because each franchise has a renewable contract after either three or five years the business should allow me to retire with a reasonable sum – and also provide me with a business I can pass onto my 16-year-old son, Scott, once he completes his studies. Currently, HPS is putting him and Skye Mclauchlin through the Diploma in Property Managment. Both are just 16 and are two of the youngest ever students in Scotland currently studying for the qualification, which shows our dedication to young entrepreneurial apprentices.
“After deciding to launch the business, I approached Business Gateway to see what support was available to me. I was awarded a £1k grant for my corporate image which allowed me to create an animated logo that I love, because it makes Homepage standout. I am also about to benefit from 1:1 advice from a digital expert through the DigitalBoost programme that will help me put in place a digital marketing strategy to support the growth of my business and each franchise.”
Alison Davidson, Business Gateway, said: “Tricia is an experienced accountant and property developer who not only understands the needs of commercial and residential buyers and sellers, she knows exactly what franchisees need, having worked with large franchise groups in the past. With our help she has differentiated herself from the crowd with her logo, and moving forward our advice will help her create a plan that will help highlight the services she and her franchises offer.”
On graduating from The Glasgow School of Art, Tricia went on to work for a leading design company where she helped design products for Paul and Linda McCartney’s house on the Isle of Mull.
Not wanting to move to London to further her design career, she decided to retrain as an accountant and worked for a range of large firms before running her own firm and undertaking property development.
Having always had a focus on due diligence, and having used ‘rent to buy’ to purchase a bed and breakfast she still runs, she knew that her experience would help countless others get onto the property ladder and secure a fair price to buy and sell.
She said: “What the franchise lets me do is arm others with the skills and knowledge I have built up over the years. It also lets me highlight to people of pension age and beyond that there’s no reason why they can’t set up a business to help them achieve their retirement goals. There’s a long time between now and 65 so you might as well use it to focus on something you love.”
For more information on Homepage Property Services visit: www.homepagepropertyservices.co.uk.
To find out how Business Gateway Clackmannanshire can help your business call 01259 208426 or visit www.bgateway.com/clackmannanshire.