My Story - Chapter 7 - Creating a National Brand!

It was never the original plan to have more than one office, however, after 18 months of delivering weddings in the North East, we were starting to turn down too many weddings nationwide as our products came in demand from further afield as a result of social media and word of mouth.

I had experience of Franchising when working in the motor trade for Land Rover and Jaguar. My business model is very straight forward, (I am a big believer in the KISS strategy, Keep it Simple Stupid), so I decided that I would Franchise the North East, breaking it up into 4 sections, to trial a franchise model close to home.

It took me 6 solid weeks to write the business plan and operations manual and with the support of the UK’s top Franchise Solicitor, I created the contract that would also form much of the business model.

I have to say, the thought of allowing a third party to trade under my name was very daunting. I have a very high expectation of attention to detail, and what if I couldn’t find anyone to meet that standard? What if they couldn’t replicate exactly what I was delivering.

I would keep County Durham office for myself so I could set the brand standard and give the new team a benchmark to work towards.

Each Franchise was to be a mirror of the original office, from our branding, product offering, uniform, van livery, sales pitch and most importantly exceptional customer service.

I hadn't even had the chance to advertise the business before a suitable candidate heard I was going to sell franchises and approached me directly. The first sale went through in 2011.

We won a number of high profile business awards in 2012, to include "The UK's Most Promising Business" awarded by the British Chamber of Commerce. On the back of these, we also had a huge amount of National high profile PR, to include editorial in The Sunday Times. This PR attracted a lot of interest in the franchise sales.

We currently have 10 offices stretching from Dundee to South Wales. I took a break in 2014 from selling franchises as I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma and again in 2015. However, I am delighted to re open the opportunity to sell more franchises within certain “hot spots” in the UK. I am also after 10 years selling my County Durham Franchise to allow me the time to develop this area of our business.

I would not say the whole process has been easy. I have had people steal my ideas/photographs to pass as their own. I have had people who have had to be removed from the franchise network for various reasons, but on the whole it has been a wonderful experience and an exceptional model that has allowed me to grow my brand across the UK without a huge fixed over head.

If you would like to discuss Franchising your business or would be interested in purchasing one of our Franchises, please feel free to email me : or contact me through my website.

My Story - Sarah Pittendrigh

"Sarah Pittendrigh was a fantastic addition to our speaking roster at our small business initiative event, #SBS Small Business Sunday 2019. Sharing her journey on building up her business, as well as how to franchise a business, her session proved invaluable for our small business attendees and the feedback has been excellent! Thank you Sarah."

Jess Littlewood - #SBS Small Business Sunday, Theo Paphitis Retail Group

"Sarah is everything a successful entrepreneur should be, creative, tenacious with a clear vision on how to develop her business. She never ceases to impress me with her energy, attention to detail and most importantly, is always comfortable leading from the front with her hands on management style..."

Nick Holmes - Former MD at Rockliffe Hall, Non Executive Director positions at Gisborough Hall, Swinton Estate and Ramside Hall

"Having set up my business when I was 23, Sarah's advice and experiences in the wedding industry were a vital part in the success of my Simply Bows and Chair Covers franchise. As a franchisor, Sarah has always been on the other end of the phone to help me with my dilemmas and pass on her experience and business advice..."

Joanne Smith - Simply Bows and Chair Covers Lancashire

"Sarah was asked to support the wedding product here. Right from the first meeting she was professional, personable and down to earth. She found out as much information as possible, including attending events to get a feel for our product first hand and give her the best insight..."

Ruairidh Taylor - Hotel Manager, Gisborough Hall Hotel

"I hope our paths cross again before too long because I think you’re a brilliant example to budding doubters like me and a flipping great individual too! Thanks again for the inspiration you are and always be aware that folks like me, who’ve had the good fortune to meet you, are better for it..."

Alan Green - Corporate Photographer

"Sarah is an extremely good listener and will look at projects from all angles and give help and advice from her perspective.
I would have no hesitation in recommending Sarah as a mentor and indeed will be back in touch with her soon with regards to my next business venture..."

Katie Lindsay-Brown

"I was so inspired by Sarah’s story, where she had been, what she had endured and the phenomenal success she made Simply Bows and Chair Covers I just knew I had to be a part of this great business model.
I have now been running my franchise for the last 4 years and I love it. Sarah is very supportive, knowledgeable and I know if I need advice she will always be there..."

Adele - Simply Bows & Chair Covers, South Wales