Steve and Anne Martin are painting a picture of success with ChipsAway
Successful property developers for over is years, Steve and Anne Martin decided to change direction completely in 2009, having fallen victim to the prevailing property crisis. Anne says that she and Steve were determined to find something different that offered a secure route to growth, but would also bring in profits from the outset.
“Franchising seemed to be the obvious way forward for us,” she explains. “We knew the challenges of building a company over a number of years in the property market, and we saw that well established, powerful brands weathered recession better than small independent businesses. Therefore, we wanted to buy into a recognised brand with a proven business formula.”
The pair looked at a broad range of different opportunities, from commercial cleaning to legal services, before finally deciding that ChipsAway offered the best potential for a really successful long-term business.
“I’m a naturally cautious person, so throughout the process I was taking the skeptical view,” Anne confesses. “After attending the ChipsAway open day, we went through their figures and business plan with a fine-toothed comb. We found that it compared really well against other franchises. Eventually I felt reassured that this was a sound proposition and, of course, one that would generate an income from day one, which was an important factor for us.”
ChipsAway is one of the most successful automotive franchises in the UK with around 350 specialists nationwide and a network of master franchisors overseas. Operating from fully equipped mobile workshops and Carfare Centres, ChipsAway specialists provide high quality on-the-spot repairs to minor car bodywork damage quickly and cost effectively, restoring paintwork in a matter of hours. The quality, value and convenience of ChipsAway repairs ensure the company remains the leading brand in this lucrative and rapidly growing marketplace.
For Steve and Anne, business has continued to thrive and grow at an impressive rate despite the continuing challenging economic environment. Within three months of their franchise launch, the couple took on an employee to help them with their rapidly expanding workload, enabling them to more than double their turnover.
“Despite it being December, we had a tremendous launch, which generated lots of enquiries and several weeks worth of work,” Anne recalls. “This was very reassuring as we knew that winter can be the most difficult time for many businesses.”
They couple are quick to pay tribute to the “brilliant” support they received from the ChipsAway management team, and acknowledge that while they had a great deal of experience in running a business, the world of franchising and the automotive services sector was very new to them and in some ways presented a different set of challenges - as well as rewards.
By the time the Martins had completed their first year, their business was achieving a turnover in excess of £150,000, giving them the confidence to invest in a ChipsAway CarCare Centre (a fixed-base workshop) and another employee. This expansion of their operation enabled them to process significantly more vehicles, as well as providing better than ever service to their customers.
‘Although our background was in property, we drew on our previous experience of running a business and applied the same sales and marketing skills to build momentum for our new venture with ChipsAway,” says Anne.
“Although there will always be those who try to undercut us, we’re not interested in competing on price.
“Our business is built on providing high quality customer service and great value for money. We’ve been delighted with our success so far, and firmly believe there’s still huge potential for us to expand further.”
According to Anne, the Martin’s plans for 2012 include opening a second CarCare Centre and recruiting another team of technicians. “By the end of 2011 our turnover had increased to £200,000 and a third person has joined the team, taking over basic tasks such as masking up the cars prior to painting, so that Steve can process even more vehicles,” she says.
“Our target for this year is to hit a quarter of a million pound turnover. However, that figure is based on our current situation operating just one CarCare Centre.Obviously our expectations for the business will be substantially higher once we open our second.”
Anne adds: “We’re always busy and we certainly believe there’s plenty of potential work out there to sustain our plans for continued growth. ChipsAway has given us brilliant support and the opportunity to start small, but with an instant income, and to grow our ma n¬and-a-van operation into a long-term, successful management franchise.”