Since opening his Wilkins Chimney Sweep franchise during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kris McLernon has grown his business exponentially
Name: Kris McLernon
Organisation: Wilkins Chimney Sweep
Years trading: 14 months
Kris McLernon spent 14 years serving in the Armed Forces, working as a recovery mechanic for REME before venturing into the franchising business. He came to be interested in chimney sweeping after his father suggested the idea over Christmas drinks.
Kris says: “I finally did the research into becoming my own boss and decided to try out chimney sweeping with the attitude of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.”
He joined Wilkins Chimney Sweep mid-pandemic in September 2021 and has achieved great success in a short period of time. From October 2021 to October 2022, his business had a 76 per cent increase in turnover and is already halfway up the franchise performance leaderboard, having overtaken franchisees with much more experience.
Hard work pays off
Despite his success, Kris acknowledges that the work isn’t easy. He explains: “Long hours spent on your knees, straining your back, fighting with fi replaces that were never designed with cleaning in mind are probably the hardest parts of this job. It takes a special someone to not throw in the towel after days or even weeks of constant problems.”
Kris’ time in the military provided him with the grit and determination needed to work in such a challenging role. He says: “My military experience has taught me how to be flexible when things change last minute. How to be disciplined no matter how difficult a situation is, and to do the work properly without taking shortcuts.
“The army helped me realise that no matter how grim a time, it always ends up getting better so long as you keep moving forwards and keep your chin up.”
In March 2022, Kris won the 2022 Scottish Ex-Forces in Business Awards, and he has proven to be innovative in his ability to market his business. He isn’t afraid to put himself out there for his brand by creating videos on social media about his business.
“I enjoy making the videos,” he explains. “Some are educational, most are a bit of fun or showing people what I can do as the public don’t know much about what a chimney sweep does. I make these videos to show more than just a chimney sweep ‘sweeping’.”
Where’s it going?
Kris’ figures have helped to boost turnover from £258,000 in 2021 to £302,000 in October 2022. He began generating referrals from the start, with family members and friends.
Kris has been successful with his business in Lanarkshire and plans to expand. He says: “I plan to take over Scotland as the chimney sweeping service that everyone talks about.“He also hopes to take on an employee and put another van on the road soon.
Get to know
Biggest lesson you’ve learnt is… to create plenty of ‘me time’. Having time to process what the week has thrown at you is important.
Advice I live by… an old army saying: ‘Work hard, play harder.’ I sweat it out through the week, but prioritise ‘me time’.