When a majority of the EnviroVent Yorkshire territory became available, budding entrepreneur Oliver Ludlam-Raine felt more than equipped to take on the challenge
In April 2018, Oliver Ludlam-Raine, 35, took over three existing EnviroVent territories covering the majority of Yorkshire. Two years on, he is running a thriving and ever-growing franchise. He puts his success down to his considerable experience in sales and marketing, combined with the business’ prominence as the UK’s most trusted supplier and installer of ventilation systems.
Oliver says that the EnviroVent business model is all about having the right attitude – a strong work ethic, a growth mindset and an ethical outlook. He continues: “First and foremost, I would classify EnviroVent as a sales and marketing model. In this industry, people really do buy from people, whether the client is domestic or B2B. I get to know the customer; their motivations, their obstacles, their end-goal, and communicate in a way that works for them. This is the sales part of my role as a business owner and a skill I use every day and have nurtured throughout my career. I would encourage anyone to look into franchising with EnviroVent because they’re the markets leaders – the opportunity catapults you to the forefront of a booming industry.”
Oliver’s inaugural journey with the brand began long before he signed on the dotted line of his franchise agreement. The young entrepreneur first came across EnviroVent when researching career development opportunities.
“I studied marketing at university and set up my own gardening business after graduation,” he explains. “I found myself really enjoying the marketing and customer relations side of things, so thought a position working alongside others in that particular field would help nurture and diversify my skills. I looked into career opportunities where I could concentrate all my efforts on developing my love of sales. EnviroVent was advertising for a graduate position within its domestic sales division, which ticked all the boxes for me. I secured the role and spent the next five years evolving my skillset and knowledge of the customer experience.”
Ever the entrepreneur, Oliver was always on the lookout for long-term opportunities that would put his sales expertise to the test and ignite his passion for business ownership. When the majority of the EnviroVent Yorkshire territory became available, he felt more than equipped to take on the new challenge.
“It was an easy decision to make. The market was and still is booming as more of us become aware of the dangers of poor air circulation and the government standardise the use of proper ventilation systems. Here was a solid business opportunity with real growth potential – the profit margins on the product are good because the product is, quite literally, the best on the market. Who wouldn’t want to run a business knowing they have the backing of the market-leading experts behind them? EnviroVent is ahead of the curve in that it has been offering quality air ventilation systems for 30 years, so I could draw on that expertise without having to spend three decades establishing a brand. Also, investing in my own franchise meant I would continue to help people make a positive change in their homes and businesses for the good of their own health. What could be more rewarding than that?” says Oliver.
To successfully transition from sales manager to franchisee, Oliver undertook EnviroVent’s thorough on-boarding programme, starting with extensive franchisee training at the head office and manufacturing facility in Harrogate.
“There’s an impressive level of expertise within the EnviroVent team that is so readily available to franchisees,” he explains. “The training programme covers everything from product knowledge to customer service and IT systems. All of this is delivered by in-house specialists - someone that actually works in their respective role every day. You’re enriched with so much knowledge and are introduced to a vast network of contacts who are all striving for the same goal; customer satisfaction. Even now, I have unlimited access to an online portal full of user manuals and key information, put together by a team of sales professionals. Essentially, if I’m ever unsure of something, there’s always someone to ask or a resource to refer to.”
Oliver’s long-term plan was always to build his business into a management-style operation. However, like most franchisees, he started out as owner-operator. Working both in and on the business, Oliver familiarised himself with each of the roles he would later employ staff to fill.
“The scalability of the EnviroVent model was another big thing that appealed to me,” he continues. “My passion and interest will always remain in the sales and marketing side of the business but I knew it was important for me to be proficient in all areas of the franchise so that I could pass this knowledge on to employees in the future. A good business owner knows their business from the inside out, so that’s what I set about learning.”
Throughout the remainder of 2018 and most of 2019, Oliver consistently grew a solid customer base, in both the domestic and B2B markets. Although his natural flair for sales and customer service brought about profitable contracts, he found a great sense of achievement in establishing the infrastructure that would enable his grand plan of a management franchise to come to fruition.
“The last two years have been incredibly busy but I’ve played to my strengths and haven’t once rested on my laurels. I’ve grown the business whilst working towards my goal of creating operational resources so others can step into the distinct roles I’ve carved out. I’ve secured fantastic, long-term relationships with letting agencies, damp-proofers and maintenance companies by understanding their buying patterns and budgets. Although I still invest much of my time into building and cultivating my domestic contacts, I’m really keen to grow the higher volume, B2B side of my business,” he says.
In early 2020, Oliver invested in his own office premises. This significant milestone signals the next phase of growth of his franchise - an achievement he attributes to a combination of his own passion for the service he provides and EnviroVent’s investment in his development.
“The support I’ve been offered by EnviroVent has been instrumental in the success of my business and will look to them for guidance when the time comes to recruit staff,” says Oliver. “My end goal is to build a large-scale franchise with a reputation as the number one domestic ventilation system provider in Yorkshire. Ten years from now, I envisage myself with a knowledgeable and equally dedicated team that handle the daily operations of the franchise, so I can spend more time away from the business to invest in my other passion; property development. Whilst I’ll never fully step away from the business, I’d like to feel safe in the knowledge that I’m able to take time out to spend with my family and on other ventures.
“The last few years have been jam-packed with professional and personal milestones - I married my long-term partner, Nicola, in 2017 and we welcomed our first child the following year - but I’m extremely grateful for every moment. When I stop and take stock of what I’ve achieved so far, it’s astounding. I’m excited to see what the next two years could hold.”