Interviews

Nigel Toplis: Bringing business concepts to the market

5 min read

19 July 2013

The trick to accessing finance is being part of a franchise business, according to Nigel Toplis, managing director of The Bardon Group.

Name:

Nigel Toplis

Role and company:

Managing director of The Bardon Group

Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):

Turnover – £1.6m pa

Employee numbers: 

13

Growth forecast for the next three years:

Five per cent to ten per cent pa

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:

We are a multi-brand franchise business specialising in bringing business concepts to the market and supporting franchisees in their business development. We continually seek to augment our business systems and add income streams to enable franchises to maximise their opportunities.

What’s the big vision for your business?

To develop high quality, non-food based franchised businesses working with committed, hard-working and ambitious franchisees to position each brand as ‘best in breed’ in its marketplace.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations:

Our focus is very much on the UK and it will remain this way for the foreseeable future.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:

I’ve never considered anything to be a setback but rather a learning opportunity. There are opportunities to learn in business everyday. In my own career, the most important lesson I have learnt is to be inclusive, but never afraid of making a decision. If you make a decision and it is wrong, just make another decision.

I’ve also learnt that it is always best to be firm in the face of criticism when you believe you are doing the right thing; to thank, congratulate and recognise hard work, achievement and participation; and to talk to people.

What makes you mad in business today?

Three things

  1. Laziness;

  2. A desire to find any excuse not to work and expect someone else to either do your work for you or to pay you for not doing it; and

  3. People blaming others for their own failings or lack of desire or focus.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

I can see more people wanting to own their own businesses. I believe the British have an innate desire to be their own boss, but most are not aware of the role and benefits of franchising. 

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?

We have worked very hard with the banks and are in the fortunate position of enabling our new franchise owners to get some 70 per cent of the total funding cost from the banks. We have found that the banks will support good franchised businesses because they recognise that the likelihood of on-going success is much higher than with independent businesses.

How would others describe your leadership style?

Firm, fair, success-driven, and active.

Your biggest personal extravagance?

Havana cigars.

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

Mr Prime Minister,

The British are explorers, who are independent-minded, determined, and able to face and defeat insurmountable odds. We are ideal business people. However, we respond best not to calls to invent, but to innovate; to take proven ideas and maximise their use, implementation and business opportunity.

Franchising, with its concept of  ‘being in business for yourself, not by yourself’ is a perfect concept to regenerate a struggling economy. It harnesses the UK’s work ethic, ambition and drive for independence. And it enables people from all walks of life to become successful business people, employing other local people, paying taxes into the local economy and helping to sow seeds of economic growth in their locality.

If nothing else, create a Minister of Franchising with the powers to investigate and embrace the opportunity.