GEOGRAPHY TEACHER MAPS OUT A NEW CAREER AND LAUNCHES HER OWN TRAVEL BUSINESS WITH THE TRAVEL FRANCHISE
In the rolling wave of strikes battering the UK, it’s teachers that are the latest sector of the workforce to down tools.
Drowning under piles of admin; having to adhere to a never-ending onslaught of legislation; enduring ever-increasing challenges in burgeoning classrooms, not to mention seeing their real wage declining, it’s not surprising we’re seeing teachers looking to leave the profession in their droves.
But what’s the alternative?
After almost 29 years as a teacher, Derbyshire-based Julie-Anne Craig, is now her own boss, working her own hours, from home and enjoying a salary that far surpasses her teacher take home pay.
Julie-Anne is one of the 900 people to have retrained to become a home-based travel consultant with The Travel Franchise and is now loving her new career and her new life style.
“I shouldn’t say this, but it’s like a hobby. I don’t feel like I ever go to work. I come back from leaving the children at school and I sometimes pinch myself. It just gives me freedom and flexibility.”
Bringing all her skills gained during her 30-year career specialising in teaching geography and PE, becoming a travel consultant was the perfect fit.
“I absolutely love travelling and planning holidays,” she says. “I put a lot of effort into researching trips and planning them as if it were my own and that’s really paid off. Most of my customers come to me as referrals.”
As a consequence of doing such a great job initially for her immediate friends and family, word began to spread about the new travel agent in town.
At the latest count she has over 200 customers – yet when she started out in 2019, not only did she not have any customers, she didn’t have any experience in travel either, let alone as an entrepreneur.
This is where the training and support provided to all its franchisees is The Travel Franchise’s key to success.
“It’s in our interest that every one of our franchisees succeeds,” says The Travel Franchise co-founder Paul Harrison. “This is why we dedicate so much time, money and attention to training for every single person that joins our team. The vast majority of our franchisees do not hail from a travel background, so we ensure they have all the support they need.”
Every franchisee is appointed a Business Development Manager (BDM) who is on hand to help with any queries the consultant may have and to encourage them to climb through The Travel Franchise ranks, giving each franchisee a clear growth path and rewards along the way.
“Everyone wants a pat on the back and to be rewarded for their hard work,” says Paul. “When consultants reach a certain level of commission, they receive a special ‘pin’ and with each ‘pin’ comes more recognition and prestige.”
And, with commission generally equating to 10-15% of all her sales, Julie-Anne has got her eyes on the prize: “Natalie, my BDM, sent me a little message the other day to say that I was £346 pounds from my Platinum three star and as I was actually just about to put through a £25k booking to America I made it easily,” she says.
The result? A much bigger salary for Julie-Anne than she had previously earned, even as an assistant head teacher.
“Obviously there’s some quiet months, but last year I was booking about £60k-worth of travel each month, but then January was £160k, February was over £150k and I’d reached over £80k in the first few weeks of March,” she says.
And for her customers it’s a win-win too, because Julie-Anne doesn’t charge her customers a penny for her service since all commission is paid via suppliers. And what’s more, she has access to a stream of incredible, exclusive offers that she can pass on to her clients saving them money and also time.
“Many of my clients don’t have the time or inclination to do a lot of the planning themselves. Or they want to speak to somebody who’s been to the resort or destination,” explains Julie-Anne. “I get great satisfaction from making sure I’m sending them to the right locations and you get to learn so much about different places, which means your own bucket list grows.”
Luckily, as a consultant Julie-Anne has many opportunities to travel with her job. Over the last year she’s taken several ski trips, has visited Iceland and America, and recently attended the company’s International Mastery Retreat in Cyprus where she enjoyed staying in a luxury hotel, networking with other agents and training with The Travel Franchise co-founders, Paul Harrison and Steve Witt. Last year she also joined an overseas mentorship retreat in Mauritius.
“It was amazing. I didn’t have to pay a penny for it as it was part of my sign-up fee,” she says. “We did a lot of training but we got to see quite a lot of Mauritius and different hotels. We were basically spoiled rotten.
We were taken to all the nice restaurants and had a cocktail reception on the beach. It was like something you might dream about. Since then I’ve sold quite a few Mauritius holidays because I can wax lyrical about them.”
It’s clear that since launching her business, Julie-Anne’s feet haven’t quite touched the ground. She’s been on a steep but exciting learning curve. While she says she would never go back to her old career, she admits that being an entrepreneur is hard work, particularly when it comes to marketing her business.
But, even with that The Travel Franchise comes to the rescue, providing its consultants with a stream of social media posts and practical training sessions: “I’m not really up with technology but the company’s marketing portal guides you through things such as making a video, which I did in early January and since then I haven’t had time because so many people wanted to book holidays!”
And on the practical side, for consultants who find themselves swamped with admin tasks – such as chasing and delivering tickets – they can tap into the company’s concierge service run by a team at company headquarters.
So, any regrets? “Absolutely not!” she says. “I feel like I’m living my life a little bit more.”