Fibrenew CEO Michael Wilson provides an insight into the niche service mobile franchise and where it’s headed
Fibrenew is a niche service mobile franchise business that specialises in the restoration of leather, plastic and vinyl in the automotive, aviation, commercial, marine, medical and residential markets.
To know and understand the unique culture at Fibrenew is to get inside the mind of CEO, Michael Wilson. In this interview, he answers questions about Fibrenew’s inception, where the company is today and where it’s headed.
We are a mobile operation that specialises in the restoration of damaged leather, plastic and vinyl.
What makes us unique is that we are not a reupholstery service. Our products and techniques have our technicians repair holes, cracks, fades, stains, burns, etc on any type of leather, plastic or vinyl in situ. This means we repair the damaged items without having to remove them.
It could be on furniture in a home, office or hotel, it could be on a vehicle’s seats, armrests, dashboard or panels, it could be leather, plastic or vinyl in a boat or plane, it could be medical exam tables or gym equipment. We repair it on location and at a fraction of the cost of replacement.
The previous owners of the company were just starting to franchise the concept and I had lost my construction company because of the devastating recession that had just happened.
In a roundabout way, I bought my franchise out of an act of desperation - and I’m sure glad I did. It turned out to be one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made. My wife and I then had the opportunity to purchase the entire company in 1994.
It was shortly thereafter that we pushed hard to expand the business across Canada, into New Zealand, USA, Mexico and Australia. I was the first franchisee and today we now have more than 245 locations in five countries around the world. Now is the right time to expand the business into the United Kingdom.
We have built the system and business in North America and we know it will work in the UK. It’s just a matter of finding the right people to bring on board and that’s who we’re currently seeking. People who can work with their hands, who are not colour blind, who are not afraid of work and have the passion and energy to help build a business.
Our business model and programmes have been developed over the past 30-plus years - it’s very refined and we know it works. If you stick to our template, there is a very good chance you’ll succeed.
The ability to generate a great income if you work hard and stay focused on growing your business.
I think the fact we run a flat rate royalty system is a big advantage in the eyes of franchisees as well. This means you really are your own boss, because there is no financial reporting, no red tape, etc. You are free to make as much or as little as you wish and you’re charged the same rate.
We are here to support you and guide you, but ultimately you are in control of your success. Another advantage is the fact that in most markets there is little to no competition. We are an extremely niche business and our franchisees appreciate that.
Simply put, the potential our franchisees have in their local markets is near limitless.
Leather, plastic and vinyl can be found in homes, offices, planes, boats, medical clinics, hospitals, schools, bars and restaurants, cars, trucks, buses, trains, hotels and on and on. Inevitably, all this material becomes damaged and the cost of replacement can be astronomical in some cases. That’s where we help.
Not only is our service more economical than full replacement, the turnaround time can be faster as well - we save our customers time and money. That’s why they love us so much and are quick to refer us to their friends.
As to Fibrenew’s place in the market, our experience, knowledge and the quality of products and systems is second to none. We continually reinvest back into our business with the development of new products, systems and software that help our franchisees grow their business. This is a big reason why we have never stopped growing since we started franchising and why we’re a leader in the industry today.
I’m biased of course, not just because I’m the CEO, but because I started out as a franchisee myself. I know first-hand that Fibrenew provides the potential to generate a great living while maintaining a desired lifestyle.
Work-life balance and flexible scheduling is a fantastic aspect of owning a Fibrenew franchise. There is no ‘bricks and mortar’, everything is mobile-based, so that means you’re able to set your own hours and work around family scheduling.
We have quite a few franchises that operate as a husband and wife team, father and son team, mother and son team and a brother team. We’re now starting to see some senior franchisees pass the business to their children or sell it to new owners after years of building it.
It’s wonderful to see this multigenerational aspect now start to evolve in our business. I think this in its self presents a great opportunity for someone who is looking to build a business, provide for their family and eventually have a legacy that can carry on.
The opportunity in the UK is especially unique because it’s ground floor - it’s a wide open space and for the type of person who finds that exciting, the sky is truly the limit
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