And he’s even got a strategy worked out for the PM: “Gordon Brown wants to immediately appoint 20 representatives and give each of them £100 in crisp, newly-printed £20 notes, and send them to pubs across the UK on a Friday night with a tape recorder or their video mobile phone. Then they should listen to what real people are talking about and listen to what real business people are saying. Brown would learn more of what’s actually going on out there over one weekend than what I believe any of his in-house advisers could pick up in the next two years.
“Then he needs to pin his ears back, shuffle out the rest of his rubbish cabinet and actually be seen to be doing something because all the time he’s pratting around with meetings, committees and quangos, nothing is getting done.”
Hellewell’s tongue-in-cheek comments belie his very real concern that the government doesn’t understand what’s really happening in the British economy. His suggestion for action mirrors what Hellewell does in his business. “I spend an inordinate amount of time listening to my franchise owners because it’s a given fact that if you’ve got a 99 per cent perfect system, if you want to know what the one percent is that isn’t right, you ask a franchisee,” he says.
“I don’t just listen I read what they put on their own franchise owners forum, which is a part of our website. They have absolutely carte blanche on there to put down in writing what they think is good, bad or indifferent. If I see a repeated comment of something that isn’t quite right, I’d just get on and do it.”