Albert Stratford

The Junction, Dorchester

Albert Stratford

“Taking a franchise agreement with Marston’s when I was 55 years' old was a big step for me and not something I had imagined doing a few years before!

I joined the Merchant Navy when I left school at 16 and spent 7 years working in various roles on board various cargo ships and oil tankers, including as a Head Chef. This gave me a great grounding in the principles of hospitality and I learnt the importance of doing things just right.

On leaving the Navy I started working in pubs as a grill chef and after a number of successful years I completed my training as a deputy manager and then managed various pubs and hotels around the South of England.

In 2001 I moved to Dorchester to manage the Kings Arms Hotel. I fell in love with the town, its people and the surrounding area and knew this was where I wanted to stay and raise my family.

In 2009 the Kings Arms was sold and not wanting to leave Dorchester I applied for the vacancy at the Junction with Marston’s, and was delighted to be appointed as the manager.  I had six successful years at the Junction building the business and further immersing myself in the local community.

In late 2014 Marston’s offered me the opportunity to take the Junction on under their new franchise model. I was excited by the opportunity of the investment but knew only a little about the franchise agreement and what it would mean for me.

I spent a couple months doing my research. I met with Marston’s, Franchise Finance and various franchisees. After much thought I realised there was a great opportunity, in a pub I loved and knew so well. Whilst it was a daunting experience becoming self-employed late in my career, it was the right decision for me and my family.

I knew with the right investment, a strong plan and a great team we could make the Junction an even better venue for the local community and Dorchester’s many tourists. Becoming a franchisee has changed the way I run my business. I have embraced social media and learnt a lot about digital marketing. I have become more proactive in getting out and about, networking, meeting new people who can bring in extra business and securing their support.

The most daunting part for me was becoming an employer, rather than being an employee. Being responsible for 12 – 15 employees who not only look to me to lead them but also to make sure they are paid, looked after in the workplace, trained and developed is something I take very seriously and has been the key to my success over the last 12 months. Fortunately Marston’s have been incredibly helpful; the support package is fantastic.

My hard work has paid off. Last year was the Junction’s most successful ever. We had our busiest Christmas and in the last six months we have exceeded sales targets by £60,000. I am not resting on my laurels however – I have found my inner entrepreneur and now it is out there is no holding it back!

Becoming a franchisee has been an amazing journey. I have learnt lots and whilst there has been hard times and things to worry about, I look back with fond memories, a sense of satisfaction and I have real hope and ambition for the future.”