Embark on your own business voyage with Mac Tools
Nigel Hammond is his own boss, having purchased the Southampton franchise territory for Mac Tools in November 2011.
After discovering the Mac Tools franchise opportunity on the Internet, Nigel checked the company’s credentials against the British Franchise Association website and soon realised that the potential and support on offer were exactly what he’d been looking for.
“The bfa website was a great starting point to determine the Mac Tools franchise set up,” says Nigel. “After my wife told me about the concept of franchising, my research made it clear that it was a much better option than trying to go it alone. The backing of a massive organisation can’t be underestimated. Although it might seem like you are just one person out on the road, having the support from Mac Tools’ staff at headquarters in Sheffield is very useful as it helps with all aspects of the franchise.
“However, the main appeal of the franchise option for me was that it has fixed start-up costs and an already proven franchise system, whereas starting a new business is a much bigger financial risk.”
Mac Tools is part of the Stanley Black & Decker family, an $11 billion-plus global organisation employing over 30,000 people worldwide and owner of the world famous Stanley Black & Decker, Facom, Britool Expert and DeWalt brands. Mac Tools currently has over l00 franchisees operating in the UK, with a potential UK market of over fiso million.
Continues Nigel: l quickly assessed that a Mac Tools franchise offered good value for money and great support. Other franchises didn’t offer the same levels of help and often had high monthly charges. Aside from the initial franchise fee, Mac Tools get their money from the tool sales that a franchisee achieves, so it is in their interest to ensure each franchisee is successful. As a franchisee, you keep all your profits and don’t have to pay any additional monthly royalty fees to Mac Tools, which can happen in other franchises.
“Prior to starting my own business, I held business development and senior management roles, some at a global level, within the automotive and technology sectors, and in 2002 I completed a Diploma in Professional Business Management through the Open University. I felt that I had a well-rounded background and skills and that the Mac Tools franchise training could only complement this.
“The initial training was full on for three weeks, both in the USA and UK. It was very well structured and covered all aspects of the business. The ongoing support has also been excellent, with both the national and regional franchise managers helping to get me established week by week while out on the road. The regional franchise manager has been down at least once a fortnight since I started, offering one-to-one guidance and advice while accompanying me on my rounds. It has meant that I’ve been able to start my own business without the usual pitfalls because I benefit from a large pool of expertise whenever I need it.”
The Mac Tools line consists of over 8,000 professional tools, including screwdrivers, ratchets, wrenches and assorted air tools, as well as its own toolboxes. Mac Tools franchisees are trusted distributors of what they consider to be the best quality tools on the market to customers such as car dealerships, automotive repair shops, manufacturing units and engineering companies.
Nigel lives with his wife and business partner, Karen, and their dog Bosun. They have two grown-up children and one grandson. Keen sailors, Nigel and Karen also have their own Bavaria sailing yacht and are active members of the Bavaria Owners’ Association, regularly attending events on the south coast.
“The Mac Tools website was very useful for providing us with information, but the main insight came from our initial meeting with Paul Clegg, the Mac Tools UK franchise recruitment manager,” says Nigel. “He was able to provide us with so much information and answered all our questions. It really gave us added confidence in our choice.
“It only took us four months to decide that we wanted to buy a Mac Tools franchise. Originally we had a bank loan approved for the initial set-up costs, as the bank was very happy to loan us the money based on the business plan we presented. Having evaluated the interest charges and so on, we actually decided to self-fund, which may not be an option for everyone, but we downsized our house in order to provide the necessary finance.
“Now I’m up and running, my average day starts at lam after I’ve walked the dog. I leave the house at 8am and arrive at my first stop at 8.15am. I follow my route and make four stops per hour, depending on the schedule, with my last stop usually being at 5.30pm.Thursdays are slightly different because I start earlier and finish later to cope with customer demand. Some of my clients are big companies, where the staff work in shifts. I therefore make multiple stops during the day to ensure I have covered any requirements.
“What is important is to continually develop a strategy to improve your business, even if you think it is all going really well. I have a regional franchise manager who is happy to join me on the van for the day if I want another perspective on my business and we’ll discuss the goals and objectives that I want to set myself to progress.”
Mac Tools offers an extensive range of training and support to franchise owners, including a twice-yearly toolfair, monthly regional franchisee network meetings and monthly field-based one-to-one meetings. All of these provide the opportunity for franchisees to discuss best practice and learn about the innovative products that are regularly added to the range that are exclusive to Mac Tools and only available to customers through franchisees.
Says Nigel: “My advice to anyone thinking of starting their own business would be to seriously consider looking at a franchise. You have all the benefits of being your own boss without being entirely on your own. There are many types of franchise and Mac Tools is what they call a van franchise, where you work from home and from your van.
“If you are looking at buying your first franchise, I would recommend that you get some real experience of that franchise - go out with an existing franchisee and see if it’s right for you.
“Owning a business is a way of life, not just a nine-to-five job. I plan to continue to develop my franchise successfully and make enough money so that I can retire happily and sail to distant places while I am still able to do so.”