Bridgewater Home Care office

Embracing flexible working long before the pandemic made it fashionable has helped human dynamos Kristy Roff and Suzanne Evett win a major business award.

The owners of virtual outsourcing agency Get Ahead in Berkshire, North Hampshire and Surrey have won a Great British Franchisee Award from whichfranchise – the highest honour in the franchising world.

“Kristy and Suzanne are a shining example of how to do franchising well. Their growth has accelerated over the last two years, and they’ve expanded by taking on a new territory in Surrey, creating a southern super-hub for us.”

Rebecca Newenham

Founder, Get Ahead

Suzanne came from a corporate HR background and saw the attrition of highly-skilled employees who ended up leaving because they couldn’t work flexibly around their families. Kristy spent eight years in radio and 10 years at an IT consultancy but craved a better work-life balance. Having met when their children were young, they realised how much more flexible their lives could be if they worked together as business partners.

“We’re both really passionate about flexible working and how it can benefit businesses as well as individuals,” says Suzanne. “Joining Get Ahead allowed us to grow our own virtual expert team, offering flexible work to other people. And our clients gained access to the skills and professionalism they needed, but on a flexible basis, only paying for the hours they required.”

Delighted at their win, Kristy says life in business has been a rollercoaster ride.

“Covid hit us in March 2020. We both had to home-school our children, and we were ineligible for any government assistance, having only recently started our business. But we still managed to welcome new clients on board and deliver a huge online event – the Enterprise Lab’s virtual expo StartUp>ScaleUp Summit. With our team of seven super Zoom facilitators, we delivered the behind-the-scenes operation, coordinating two free days of business learning, 200 exhibitors and 72 speaker sessions.

Business growth accelerated over the last two years, with year-on-year income up 50% in 2022, and we’re expecting to do the same again this year. Our biggest highlight was when Suzanne delivered all the elements of the International Inhalation Asia Conference in Hong Kong. She completed it despite political riots forcing a last-minute venue change and lots of on-the-ground troubleshooting.

Winning this national award puts all our hard work into perspective. It’s so easy to be focused on the day-to-day and not look back on how far we’ve come. Being recognised as a Great British Franchisee just four years into our business is a huge achievement we are both immensely proud of.”

Get Ahead founder Rebecca says their flexible approach to life and work is one of their strengths.

“I was impressed with how quickly Kristy & Suzanne put a job-share arrangement in place during the pandemic so they could work as well as prioritise their children,” she says.

“In our wider franchise network, Kristy has recently taken on a pastoral coaching role, regularly checking in with new franchisees to see how they’re doing, while Suzanne has transformed the way we manage and recruit for our virtual expert team. She’s set the standard for future virtual experts, designing a process that lets franchisees search for specific skills in seconds and shortlist virtual experts who match client requirements. She’d recognised it as an issue for franchisees, who were finding it difficult to know who could do what as our business grew. But she didn’t just highlight a problem – she took it on board, invested the time and delivered a solution. That, to me, is above and beyond what I would expect of a franchisee.”

 The Great British Franchisee Awards are run by whichfranchise, supported by Lloyds Bank, BDO, Worldpay from FIS, AMO Consulting and Chantry Group.