(Ambrosio’s note: This has been a big week for interviews here on Franchise Chatter. First was my interview with James Street, C0-Founder of MyDestinationInfo.com, followed by my interview with Mark Stevens, multiple unit franchisee of Anytime Fitness. It’s only fitting that we end the work week on a high note with another compelling interview, this time with Fay Jones, franchisee of MyDestinationInfo.com (with business partner Jessica White) whose territory is in Marbella, Spain.
I really loved learning about the workday and lifestyle of a savvy online media entrepreneur like Fay. I’m sure her story will inspire so many people who are also thinking about starting their own online careers and businesses. And perhaps some of you will find MyDestinationInfo.com to be a very good fit, just like Fay has.)
1. Can you tell us about your work background prior to becoming a franchisee of MyDestinationInfo.com?
My career previous to taking on the Marbella franchise was centered around print media. I was the Advertising Director of several locally based glossy magazines and had been in this position for nearly 8 years.
All the magazines were targeted towards the international community that live in or visit the Marbella area so I was familiar with the needs of the local businesses in terms of marketing and promotion, as well as having an excellent local knowledge and contact base.
2. What made you decide to become a franchisee of MyDestinationInfo.com?
The world of magazines had proved to be a means of serving me with a very enjoyable lifestyle, but I always knew that the web was the future for my career. I had endeavored to introduce the potential of online activity to my previous business partners in the magazines but just could not convince them to invest, especially in harder economic times.
When the opportunity to take on the Marbella franchise arose, I was instantly intrigued. I knew James and Neil (Co-Founders of MyDestinationInfo.com – Ambrosio) personally and had always warmed to their dedication and drive. However, I had not realized in the short space of time since starting the business just how much it had grown. I could see the financial benefits immediately and also felt that this line of work would allow me to bring my personality much more into the local business forum.
Print media is very static whereas the nature of web promotion is much more interactive and I knew that I would be able to offer my previous clients and friends an excellent service through the MyDestination platform. Basically, I was sold on the site in less than half an hour of sitting with them both!
3. What is a typical day like in your life as a franchisee of MyDestinationInfo.com?
Every day is different and with each day, I often encounter a new challenge or meet new people, all of which gives amazing job satisfaction. I often start my day though with a check through the social media interaction on the site, the Google Analytics and a check through the inquiries, as all of these factors are indicators of how well the business is performing. I then try to schedule my week with a mixture of meetings and attendance of local events, research days, administration, and site updates.
I work together with a local photographer and my dear friend and colleague, Jessica. She is the journalist on the team and follows up on all the clients’ needs for reviews and the creation of pages on the site. She has also become the multimedia expert between us and photographs the virtual tours and videos for our clients. It’s been a great way to interact with the clients and she likes the fact that it has also allowed her to develop more personal relationships with the local businesses.
We liaise through the week on a daily basis to ensure that our clients are receiving a great service from the site.
4. Can you name 3 specific things that you’ve done for your business that have produced the greatest results?
I have become very active on the social media scene. I always knew it was important but didn’t realize just how key it was to business in the 21st century! I have taken time to learn tactics and this has vastly increased the inbound traffic to the site.
I ensured that I had the very best clients in the most visible spaces on the website. I concentrated on selling the Gold positions to my top 10 leads as I know the power that these businesses have in the local community. By choosing the right people from the start, it has allowed me to build a very good reputation in a much shorter space of time than if I had just gone “where the money was.”
We printed comment cards and placed them in each individual business that was on the site so that they could generate feedback from their customers. We then collected the cards and posted them as reviews on the site. It was a great branding exercise and also the clients loved it as it allowed them to build a database from their clients and also get honest reviews of their business.
5. Can you share the highest point and lowest point of your franchise journey so far and what lessons have you learned from them?
I can’t say I have had a major low point since taking on the business. The only thing I can say is that you get back what you put in to this business. So at times, you can find yourself working some very long hours which you have to sometimes address to ensure that you are being productive in all elements of your work.
My highest point so far has definitely been attending the annual conference in Dubai when I got to meet all the other franchisees. We learn’t and laughed a great deal and it truly was a unique experience for me. I have been to many conferences and sales courses in the past but never have I been around such a dynamic and ambitious group of people. I will remember my first MyDestination conference in years to come and I’m looking forward to the next one already. If Dubai was anything to go on, next year will be incredible!
6. What mistakes have you made as a franchisee of MyDestinationInfo.com that have taught you the biggest lessons?
I would say my only mistake so far has been to occasionally get very absorbed at the computer screen instead of getting out into the community. There is always so much to learn about online marketing and it changes every day. So you can sometimes find yourself reading and browsing for hours — when in this business, communication with the local community and business owners is vital.
These days, I limit myself to set hours at the computer during business hours to ensure that I am always up-to-date with what is happening out there in town!
7. If you were to speak with a prospective franchisee about the profit potential of a MyDestinationInfo.com franchise, what would you say?
Come on board! The business needs dedication and lots of energy in the initial period but it can become profitable in a very reasonable time frame. And the profit level continues to increase as you continue — it really isn’t capped.
8. Can you describe your working relationship with the home office of MyDestinationInfo.com?
The office is a very responsive, professional body and provides me with all the help and technical expertise that I require. I have the pleasure of working within the Marbella office and I can personally vouch for the positive and hardworking attitude that it exudes. I genuinely think the office-based staff are all happy to come to work each day. Generally, this will always make for a productive and successful team.
9. What do you like most about being a franchisee of MyDestinationInfo.com?
The fact that I am able to promote my local community at a global level is very exciting. Most locally run businesses are just that — local. They have boundaries and often don’t allow themselves to keep up with global trends and technology. Working with MyDestination gives me the best of both worlds: I maintain close, personal relationships with my clients but I have the sophistication and support of a global company behind me.
10. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about MyMarbellaInfo.com?
The Marbella franchise is without a doubt the #1 source of up-to-date information on the region. My team makes updates to the site on a daily basis to ensure both locals and visitors are always able to obtain reliable and accurate information about Marbella. Our special offers section is also the most active on the network so the browsers on our site get to save hundreds of euros too!!
Click here to read my exclusive interview with Jame Street, Co-Founder of MyDestinationInfo.com.
Click here to read my review of the MyDestinationInfo.com franchise opportunity.