I certainly have no regrets at all, it's the best thing I ever did. I kind of wish I'd done it sooner."
Serena May – Sussex-by-the-Sea

Author Archive

Spotlight on Peter Mcdonald

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Peter McDonald recently celebrated his first anniversary as an HR Dept licensee. In this spotlight interview he revisits his reasons for joining our network, and reflects on the highlights and challenges of the first year in his Aylesbury & Central Chilterns territory.

What attracted you most about joining The HR Dept team last year?

Awesome question, as I decided to change rather a lot in my life. I returned to the UK after over 35 years in the corporate HR world, living abroad, to be closer to home and family. I also wanted to be part of a strong HR professional franchise, as opposed to setting out on my own. Hence I bought a territory.

What have been the highlights of your first year as a licensee?

First, my thanks to the team at the central office. They helped and supported me early on with setting up and getting established. You could say they planted the seed and I have then had to do the watering and nurturing of my own territory; knowing they are there to support and help whenever needed: THANK YOU.

Then there’s this small group of HR Dept licensees who I collaborate with – they are just amazing and have been coaches to me along the way. Last but not least, there was a partnership formed with Albert. He was the person I used as a reference check, about The HR Dept, before I signed up. Albert and I struck a chord that we hope will see our joint venture grow with time. It’s early days still, but an amazing opportunity for us both. We are both ably supported by the wonderful Helen.

Are you ever asked any HR questions which amuse you?

There are many but the best one I think was: “Why do I have to have contracts for my team?”

I am amazed at the number of SMEs that tend to run their businesses by the seat of their pants. I am working with clients, proactively supporting them to put in place the very solid yet basic aspects of HR, such as solid contracts, policies and an employee handbook


Tips for starting your own HR consultancy

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Starting your own HR consultancy is a dream for many HR professionals, leaving behind a corporate role and having the freedom and autonomy to build the business that you want. For HR professionals looking to step out and launch their own consultancy, there are numerous things to consider. Here are our tips on how to start your own HR consultancy.

  1. The Brand

Building and maintaining a strong and impressionable brand is important when starting your own business. It is the identity of your business making you memorable to clients. This also helps to distinguish yourself from competitors.

  1. Business Plan

A business plan will help to set your long-term goals and set your focus for the type of business you want to build. This will also help you to spot potential gaps or problems that you may need to resolve. For many HR professionals, their expertise lies in HR and not the other business aspects that are needed to run a business; therefore, it is important to identify skill gaps and spot where you might need additional help.

  1. Marketing and Lead Generation

When starting your own business, it is vital you get yourself and your business seen. If potential clients do not know you’re there, then they may seek help from a competitor. To start with, set up your own website and social media channels and plan to post regular content on them. In time, your marketing strategy will develop – Investing in marketing can give you the jumpstart you need.

  1. Research

Before launching your business, it is important you do your research on the market. This will help you to determine potential competitors and your target market. This will also help you when creating your business plan.

  1. Consider joining a franchise

A franchise offers the opportunity to become your own boss but with support and resources to help you thrive in running your own business. The brand and reputation are already established saving you time and money in those early stages.  As well as this, a franchisor will set your business up for you, often involving a website, IT setup, documents and plenty more. They already know the market and therefore will have tried and tested their business model to find out what works. Joining a franchise means you work for yourself but never by yourself, support stems from the franchisor head office to the wider network of franchisees who are on a similar journey to you.

If you are an HR professional and are interested in setting up your own HR consultancy, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch to find out about the UK’s largest collaborative network of HR professionals and how you will benefit from joining The HR Dept.

Hear from the Founder, Sue Tumelty

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We speak to Sue Tumelty, the founder of The HR Dept to ask her some questions about the franchise.

How did you come up with The HR Dept name?

When I first started to do interim work I traded as Sue Tumelty Services Ltd which was obviously not going to set the world on fire, Once the idea of providing services to SME’s was developed I realised we needed some branding and I went to see a company who, at that time were called Studio 6, explained what I wanted to offer and John said “So you are the HR Department” and the name was born. We got the domain name and Studio 6 became the first retained client. All those years later they are now called Six and are still a client and the name is brilliant because we do what it says on the box.

What was the driving force behind starting The HR Dept as a franchise?

One of our USPs is providing a local and personal service and when the HR Dept in Bristol started to get enquiries from further afield we needed to find a way to meet the demand. Franchising was a way to expand quickly without increasing the direct costs to the client.

Did you have an initial vision for The HR Dept, and how is that different to what you’ve built now?

The vision was to build a cooperative network of HR professionals providing services to SME’s. I don’t think I ever envisaged it becoming as large as it is or as cooperative and dynamic.

Where does your passion for HR come from?

I love business and people, and I truly believe the people in the business can drive it or if badly managed hold it back.

What makes the HR Dept different to other HR franchises?

The initial and ongoing support in all areas, finance, business planning, marketing, sales , employment law, IT. We never rest on our laurels we are the market leader and we will remain so.

What do you see next for The HR Dept?

Building the health and safety business in the same way and of course an even larger HR Dept.

Do you have a message for any HR professionals considering the HR Dept?

It has to be right for you and you for us, so ask all the questions you can think of and then some, we will answer honestly.

What is a franchise and how is it different from setting up alone?

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You may have heard of the word franchise, but do you know what a franchise really entails? The simple explanation of a franchise is to set up your own business under an established business name and product/service. A franchise allows you to start a business using the franchisor’s expertise, ideas and processes to increase your chances of success. Moreover, in order to make a franchise more worthwhile, there are often several benefits offered by a franchise to make it an easier or better decision than going it alone.

An established franchise will have already been operating for years and therefore have built a recognised brand and reputation. They will know the industry and how to make a success of it. This provides you with their proven business model which has made them successful and has already been tried and tested for you.

When setting up your own business there are a lot of things to consider. From your brand and how you will market your services, to the IT resources required to operate – not to mention actually setting up your company. The expense and time to establish all this can be lengthy and costly on your own. Whereas within a franchise most, if not all, of this will already be set up for you and there will be a whole network full of resources at your disposal.

Going from a corporate role where you have the support of colleagues to working on your own is a daunting prospect. However, if you set up your business with a franchise you’re not alone! There is often a head office full of support and a network of franchisees who are going through or have been through the same as you. As well as this, the head office will have a team of experts in various business areas to support you when you need them, meaning you can get back to focusing more on your profession and doing what you do best.

If you are a HR professional thinking about setting up your own HR business, get in contact with our team to find out how we can help you. Call us on 0345 208 1120 or email us at hrfranchising@hrdept.co.uk

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is included in your license?

Each license provides you with your own protected territory in your local area. As well as this, your IT setup, a range of marketing materials (including your website, email marketing and other platforms), additional training and access to our CRM system with a library of our branded template documents are all included in your license. We will work with you to establish your own Ltd. company and provide you with training opportunities to help you develop your business. Also, our dedicated central office and HR professional team are there to offer continuous support in all areas.

How long does it take to set up your business?

The quickest we have set up a new licensee is within 5 weeks from when they decided to join, however we usually set your business up within 6 to 8 weeks. If you need a longer setup period, due to notice periods or other commitments we will endeavour to provide flexibility .

How does our model work?

Our territory model means that you will have your own protected territory and you are the only Licensee permitted to work and market within this area. This supports our collaborative network, as it means no competition with other licensees.

What are the next steps?

When you initially contact us, we’ll send you through some information about the franchise opportunity as well as our brochure. If you would like to find out more, we would love to speak to you to learn a little more about you. Our Franchise Recruitment Coordinator, Briony Kloet, would then be in touch to arrange a call.

We also hold monthly no obligation discovery events which will be offered to you after your initial call. At this event, we will give you more information about the available territory/territories you may be interested in and provide you with all the information you need in order to fully consider joining The HR Dept. If you would like more detail on this event or next steps afterwards, please feel free to get in touch with us.

Do I need to prepare?

We would recommend doing some research into the franchise to be sure it will be a good fit for you. Look into the company culture, values, and what support you will receive as a licensee. Most of this can be found on our website or by scheduling an introductory call with us.

Who can become a franchisee?

As a franchise, equivalent experience to this. We look for HR professionals with senior, generalist HR experience and/or are CIPD level 7 qualified or above.

Helping our local business communities during COVID-19

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Covid-19 has been a challenging time for many SME business owners. Whether it has been to guide businesses through the job retention scheme, advise on remote working or to help business owners navigate all of the government updates, our licensees have been working to help and support SMEs across the country.

We are on hand to try and find the best solutions for each individual business and their staff. Our Central Office is also working to assist each member of our network to reach as many businesses as we can right now. Working together has allowed us to adapt quickly and be able to offer vital support and answers when it’s needed most.

So here are some of the things we have been up to at The HR Dept to help our local SME business communities:

  • We’re offering lots of free resources, advice on our webinars and new bespoke packages for SME business owners to help guide them through the journey ahead
  • Licensees have features on the BBC and local radio stations to spread awareness about Furlough, the Job Retention Scheme and top tips for SME business owners
  • The HR Dept has been working to champion the voice of SMEs in the HR world and with the government during this time – the Job Retention Scheme has been greatly received, but we know there’s more to be done and we want SMEs to have more visibility
  • We have created new bespoke HR packages to meet the needs of our clients during COVID-19 and we continue to update them as the situation develops
  • Our collaborative network have been coming together internally as well to raise spirits and show our support for our wider communities. We recently hosted our own ‘Rainbow Competition’ where the network’s children submitted their best rainbows to win an art set. Check out the results here

If you’d like to see more of our Coronavirus Hub and the support we are offering to SMEs, head to our website here: https://www.hrdept.co.uk/coronavirus/.

And if you’d like to learn more about The HR Dept and how our collaborative network and dedicated Central Office could support you to setup and run your own HR business, especially during times like these, please get in touch with us today:

Call us on 03452081120 or email us at hrfranchising@hrdept.co.uk


Spotlight on Erica Burke

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After a diverse career working in HR across many different organisations and sectors, Erica Burke launched her HR Dept business in Solihull in October 2019. This month we found out a bit about her professional past, why she chose to become one of The HR Dept team and (for the curious) how she would survive on a desert island.

How did you get into HR and what kinds of organisations have you worked in?

In the sixth form I took part in a project called The Young Enterprise Scheme. In this, a group of students formed a company to produce and sell products. My role was the personnel manager and that had me sorting out discipline and pay. I’d found my calling!

After university, I joined Marks and Spencer as a graduate trainee before becoming an assistant personnel manager. When I moved on from there, I became head of HR at Enfield College. Four years later I moved again, this time to International House as their first director of HR. I felt on top of the world.

After my children were born I sought out new experiences. I spent the next 15 years working as an HR consultant within higher education, the Civil Service, regulators and private companies. I had lots of great challenges, and enjoyed adapting to different cultures, delivering successful outcomes and making a difference.

What is the most amusing question you’ve ever been asked in relation to HR?

I have been asked what satisfaction I could possibly get out of such a career!

What attracted you most about joining The HR Dept team?

It was a combination of the strong brand, the values, the people and the support to develop and grow my own business.

And to end on a bit of fun, if you were stuck on a desert island and could choose one book, one song and a food item, what would they be?

The Godfather, I never tire of it; (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin; and potatoes: they are so versatile and filling.

The advantages of franchising

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Deciding to set up your own business is a big step, whether you decide to go it alone or become a franchisee. Before you make that decision, take a look at our top advantages of joining a franchise.

The advantages of franchising


Unlike starting from scratch, a franchise will already have a national presence and recognised brand name. This means they will have established a strong place in the market, thereby giving potential customers a better awareness of you and your business from the outset.

Proven Business Model

A franchise will have been in the industry for a considerable length of time, meaning they have had time to see what works and what doesn’t. As well as providing you with knowledge and expertise in the areas you may not feel strong in, they have tried, tested and learned from their experience already, so you don’t have to make these same mistakes.

Invaluable support

When you decide to come on board, the franchise will deliver an extensive induction and provide you with the resources you need to set up your business. The support doesn’t stop there! A head office team will be able to provide you with on-going support throughout your business journey, along with experts in the fields you may need help with, such as marketing, operations, finance and IT.

As well as a head office team, you will have the support from a whole network of franchisees who have either already been or are going through the same journey as you.


When setting up a business there is a lot that needs to be established. This can be anything from creating the brand to providing valuable resources and marketing material. By joining a franchise, most of these resources are already available to you and therefore save you time and money.

Being your own boss

Franchising gives you the opportunity to become your own boss without you having to ‘go it alone’. Although establishing your own business requires time, you can often fit it around your lifestyle; by setting flexible working hours for yourself or hiring a team to help you out, for example. Franchising also gives you the opportunity to step away from the corporate lifestyle and become an independent business owner.

If you are thinking setting up your own HR business, get in touch with The HR Dept to find out about more about our franchising opportunities.

Have you considered joining a franchise in 2020?

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The new year is a popular time to evaluate your career and set your goals for the year ahead. Many professionals are fed up of the corporate world and others are searching for new ways to challenge themselves. It is a common resolution for many professionals to set up their own business and become their own boss.

Deciding to leave behind a salary paid role and venture out into becoming your own boss on your own is a daunting prospect. Therefore, we believe joining a franchise sets you up with a strong foundation.

What to consider when joining a franchise:

Research: Unlike going it alone, a franchise has already built a brand and reputation, so you are not building from the bottom. However, before deciding to join, make sure you do your research; you want to make sure your values and work ethic match. Look into the company’s brand image and reviews from both clients and other franchisees, as this will give you a good idea of the company values and the service they offer.

Support: One of the benefits of joining a franchise is the additional support you get. Find out what support the franchise offer you, whether it’s IT, marketing or finance. As well as this, you have a network of other franchisees, so try to discover the culture of the network: are they supportive and collaborative, or independent and competitive? Many other franchisees would have been in the same boat as you, so attend a discovery day or arrange a phone call to find out what type of support or advice they offer.

Finances: Buying a franchise is a big investment. There is normally an initial upfront fee in order to set up your business. After this, there can be a monthly service fee for the rights to trade under the brand and for on-going support. Ensure you have carefully researched what the franchise will require from you, and that you have considered your finances.

There are many benefits to joining a franchise, but the most important thing is to make sure it is the right franchise for you. If you are an HR professional and searching for a new opportunity find out how you could become a part of the UK’s largest collaborative network of HR professionals, get in touch with us today to arrange a call and find out more.

Spotlight on Amanda Russell

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What inspired you to get into HR?

At university, I told my tutor that I was considering an HR career. He said I’d probably be quite good at it if I was a man! That was it! My mind was made up…

Can you share some highlights from your career to date?

My first HR job was in the NHS. It was a great place to learn within a unionised environment. They supported my CIPD studies, but I found it too bureaucratic. I saw an HR job advertised for Amstrad, and was lucky enough to get it. I was the first HR person Amstrad employed!

I left Amstrad with a few others to be part of the start-up team of ONdigital, the world’s first digital terrestrial network. My role was to recruit like mad ready for its launch and then help integrate the business into the ITV Group. I’ve got a fond memory of taking the famous ONdigital monkey home on the train just prior to launch – It got loads of attention! I had the best of times there, until it went into administration. I worked with administrators to sadly close the business.

My next job was at Eisai, a Japanese pharmaceutical company, where I was part of the team (coincidentally working with Brian Wilson from the Guildford territory) responsible for relocating the UK head Office in London to a brand new R&D and manufacturing facility and European headquarters in Hertfordshire.

After that I supported the integration of a privately-owned industrial inkjet facility into Royal Tencate, a Dutch multinational company. I ended up leaving with the original entrepreneurial owner to help him start up a new business where we ran the ‘Industrial Inkjet Training Academy’, delivering training across Hong Kong and China.

My last ‘employed’ HR role involved the construction of a manufacturing facility for Procter and Gamble.

In your experience, are some sectors worse than others for generating HR problems?

In the short time I’ve been an HR Dept licensee, and from my own practical experience, I would say retail stands out. I’m already coming across examples of poor planning and even poorer management of employees, leading to unproductive and unmotivated teams.

Retail is notorious for having a high staff turnover rate and seasonal fluctuations. Employees constantly miss out on the training they desperately need to do their job properly. This makes it more difficult to build customer loyalty, so recruiting the right people with the right attitude is a must! Then pay them fairly so they stay long enough to develop!

If you were not working in HR, what would you love to be doing?

I’d love to be building a house in a remote part of Scotland near mountains and with views of a loch. I’d rent it out for a few years and then ultimately retire there with my partner, Nick, and the dogs. One day!