Kara is our Passionate PA based in Southampton. She joined us in August 2022 and, after her first 6 months in business, has decided to share her story in the hope it may inspire others. With a 30 year career in Hospitality, Kara wondered whether there would ever be life beyond the sector for her and whether a franchise really was the springboard she needed…
Grab a cuppa, in this blog Kara shares her personal story in her own words.
From humble beginnings to Business Owner
My World of Work
My career started early, at the age of 14, washing dishes at a local hotel. Not long after starting this role, I was promoted to a weekend waitress which was when my love for hospitality started.
I went to university to study Hotel Management, where I learnt the fundamentals of running a business where success is dependent on hitting margins.
Throughout my career, I learnt far more than my university qualification covered though; the complexities of recruitment and HR, marketing, rate strategies, property management and compliance, to name but a few.
I worked my way through the ranks to eventually become a Hotel General Manager, and finally, the pinnacle of my career as Head of Operations for a group of hotels. If I am honest, my love of hospitality dwindled towards the end. I was running out of challenges, something that I thrive on. I was earning a good salary, but had no experience in any other industry, how could I find another career, with similar earnings, with such a specialised CV?
Seeking New Challenges
I had looked at franchises in the past, but none appeared to offer the challenge I was seeking or offered a comparable take home pay. They looked to me like they were recruiting for another ‘number’ – I have too big a personality for that sort of role!
A post from The Passionate PA popped up in my social media and sparked my interest, so I took a further look. The bespoke services offered, along with the ethos to ‘go above and beyond’, really struck a chord with me.
I booked a Discovery Call but, unfortunately, it was at a time when my team at the hotel needed me the most. Sounds crazy, I know, but my team were like family to me. We were in the process of adjusting to a post-Brexit/mid-Covid world and the ship needed a captain!
I cancelled that call with Kate to stay where I was needed.
A year later, and the time had finally come for the career change I had been craving. The Passionate PA had remained in the back of my mind. I am a people person, but I wanted to be self-employed. I didn’t want to ‘go it alone’, especially in a business I had no experience in, I wanted to be able to share my highs and lows with understanding colleagues. More importantly, I still wanted to learn, especially now that we live in an ever-evolving digitalised world with so many remote and hybrid options.
Getting The Full Picture
After further research into The Passionate PA, I sent another enquiry to Kate for more details. What I really appreciated was how there was no quick sell, quite the opposite in fact. She tells me now, she got very excited as she’d remembered my CV from a year earlier – but I didn’t know that at the time!
My Discovery Call with Kate finally took place, and she gave me a clear picture of what taking on this franchise would entail – both as a business owner but also on a personal level. I loved how easy Kate was to talk to, down to earth but incredibly informative. I felt I would be in very safe hands!
Kate suggested I researched other options and that I spoke to her Franchise Advisor, Ian Bradley too. He also suggested I be thorough in my research not just about this particular franchise, but about what becoming a franchisee would entail.
At Kate’s invitation, I also spoke to a couple of existing Passionate PA – the longest standing one and the newest, a great mix for honest feedback. The longest standing franchisee had a similar start to her career as I did. She assured me that my skills in hospitality management were easily transferable to this new career… she has since been proven right!
The ‘recruitment process’ was reassuringly thorough, it wasn’t just about whether I wanted to join this franchise, it was also about Kate learning about me to be 100% sure we could work together to build the business I desired.
This was a huge leap for me, I understandably had reservations and endless questions, all of which were answered fully and promptly by Kate.
We then met in person for lunch and it was like I had known Kate all my life! I imagine it was almost an interview process, but it felt far from that. We talked and ate yummy food. We even hugged at the end!
The Awaited Offer & Starting Training
A few days later, I was delighted to receive a franchise offer – I was going to join THE team of savvy business professionals! Woohooo! And what a relief it was to receive this news as I had already made my mind up that this was definitely the right move for me.
Once I was signed up, the online training started. This was broken down into easily digestible modules, with weekly Zoom calls with Kate to discuss any questions I might have.
The highlight of my onboarding was my Launch Retreat at a beautiful AirBnB. As much as this involved many 121 masterclasses and a professional photoshoot, it certainly didn’t feel like ‘work’ as it was fabulous to get to know Kate better, sample her delicious cooking and I got to meet a few of the other Passionate PAs too as they joined us for a training day.
Time For Clients
And then it was down to business! Getting started in my new career was nerve wracking, I was worried that I wouldn’t find clients quickly enough and I even considered getting a weekend job. But Kate assured me that I didn’t need to worry… “hold your nerve” she used to say, and she was right!
There were soon enquiries from potential new clients, and Kate initially joined me on my introductory Zoom meetings for reassurance. It wasn’t long before I was at capacity with Kate drip feeding me leads over the next few weeks.
Kate quietly let me learn to fly solo, but she continues to be there when needed, always checking whether I need more clients, whether I need any support, along with listening and advising on my journey as my current clients develop. I actually call her my Fairy Godmother – she’s just ‘there’ whenever I need her and always seems to have the right answer or question for me.
I really enjoy our monthly ‘Biz Dev’ team calls, seeing the full team together, hearing how they are getting on, along with our continual training from Kate. I also love the special face to face masterclasses with overnight stays – the team spirit is just wonderful. Such a fun bunch of ladies to socialise with, and learn with, I feel truly honoured to a part of this team!
It is fabulous that we all have our own individual skill sets and personalities, which Kate fully appreciates when dealing with client enquiries. Her role is to match the client enquiry with the right Passionate PA. But, she also relishes the opportunity to really help each Passionate PA create their own version of success too. I, for example, want a full-time business with project work in the financial arena. Other Passionate PAs want part-time, others focus on completely different skill sets to me. That’s what makes The Passionate PA so unique for clients and for franchisees – there is no one size fits all.
I genuinely thought I would miss my previous career, it had been my life for over 30 years but, I honestly haven’t once looked back. I have a thriving business, clients that challenge me every day (in a good way!) and I’m earning more than I was in my last employed role – with scope for more as my business grows and develops.
I am eternally grateful that Kate has given me this opportunity, I never thought work could excite me this much… oh how wrong I was!
You can find out more about Kara by clicking here!
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