As someone who has a real passion for business, but equally loves spending time with his family, the work-life balance available with the Optic-Kleer franchise was exactly what Julian Rolfe had been looking for
Julian Rolfe is no stranger to running his own business. The avid sports fan and savvy businessman, who sold his share of a previous business two years ago, acquired the Oxfordshire Optic-Kleer territory in early 2021. As someone who has a real passion for business, but equally loves spending time with his family, the work-life balance available with the Optic-Kleer franchise was exactly what Julian had been looking for.
“I went straight into employment out of school. Working my way up, I was with the same contract packing services company for just shy of 30 years,” he says. “I started out as a warehouse operative, was promoted to a machine operator and after four years I moved out of the warehouse and into the office. It was great to have experience from both sides of the company. After some time, I was promoted to commercial manager which was a great achievement.
“I ended up becoming general manager for the site in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. In 2007, the business was destroyed by a fire and I was made redundant in the aftermath. Another director at the company and I decided we would set up our own business offering the same services, continuing to do what we loved. For over a decade, we successfully ran that business and were very proud of what we managed to achieve after such terrible circumstances.”
In 2019, Julian decided he wanted some time out of the business and sold his shares. For a few months, he focused on himself and his family, playing golf and spending precious time with his grandchildren. However, he was eager to make use of his business experience once again as he certainly wasn’t ready to retire.
He explains: “I decided to opt for franchising because there is a readymade business model there for you. When I decided to run my own business after being made redundant from my previous job, I’d been in the industry for many years so there was no real gamble. However, to set up and start a fresh business now, especially as I’m older, I’d have felt like I was taking a huge risk. I wanted the freedom of running my own business, but without any of the major stress that comes with establishing a new company, brand and reputation.”
Julian wanted to hit the ground running and knew he could do that by partnering with Optic-Kleer. He was drawn to the fact that purchasing an Optic-Kleer franchise would mean limited upfront financial exposure – he wouldn’t have to take out a lease on a business premise or buy lots of new equipment.
“I had researched similar companies but what attracted me to Optic-Kleer was that I could almost immediately earn an income,” he says. “From day one you are set up in a supermarket car park, with potential customers in plentiful supply. With a lot of other franchises, the initial months of setting up your business would be eating up your savings as you wait for sales to complete, but that’s not the case with Optic-Kleer.”
Julian had two full days for initial training at Optic-Kleer’s head office which includes an introduction to the bespoke operating and technology systems, plus, practical windscreen repair techniques. Having met the team who support the admin and finance processing for the business, the following two days concentrated on in-the-field mentoring with an experienced franchisee.
“The training with Optic-Kleer was amazing,” says Julian. “It couldn’t have gone better, and it made me realise that I had definitely made the right decision. The moment I met John, a franchisee himself since 2011, who delivered the training, things began to click into place. And in case I ever need a refresher, I have a training manual to refer back to.
“The real bonus of the training was the third and fourth days. I was working in a live environment with John, which was just invaluable. I got to see how he sets up his pitch and interacts with the general public. Most importantly, I got to see how John carried out his repairs. It gave me a real flavour of what running my own franchise was going to be like.”
As Julian launched his Optic-Kleer business in January 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and a national lockdown, he also followed all the guidance needed to operate his essential repair business safely for himself and his customers.
“From step one of greeting a customer to the final step of taking payment, it’s an easy experience for the customer,” he explains. “Despite the timing, I have felt completely at ease right from the get-go with daily coronavirus testing in the run up and duration of training. I now know I have a great support team behind me.
“Working with the public is second nature to me, but in my first year or so, I’d like to gain repairing experience and really get myself settled into the business. My main focus is improving my knowledge and experience of the technical side of the repair process.
“Between now and year three, I’d like to see if there was room to take on another technician employed by me. I wouldn’t want to miss out on a second territory if it became available. I’d like to get to a level where I can secure trade vehicle repairs as part of my regular schedule. I feel optimistic and ambitious about my future with Optic-Kleer. I’m hopeful I can get to a point where my income from this franchise is on par with what I was earning previously.”
Julian lives with his wife, Maria, has two children grown up with three grandchildren. He is vice chairman of his local cricket club and loves watching any sport.
“The major appeal with the Optic-Kleer franchise is that I’m in control of the days I work and the time out I wish to take. I will happily work seven days a week for a while, but that’s my choice. The intention is to work hard so I can afford to take time out when necessary to spend time with family. That’s the beauty of an Optic-Kleer franchise – it’s up to you!
“Having run my own business before, there are many pros and cons to consider before investing in a franchise. I decided Optic-Kleer was perfect for me and I would very much encourage people to have a conversation with David Overton, the managing director – he used to be a franchisee himself and is so open about what Optic-Kleer has to offer,” says Julian.