Reg Illingworth is the Liverpool franchisee for easyStorage. He describes his typical day as a business owner
Reg Illingworth was the first easyStorage franchisee, along with his brother, Neil. They also co-own a Dyno territory (with a third brother) in Liverpool and operate from the same base. He joined the team in October 2018.
Becoming an easyStorage pilot franchisee was not a difficult decision, as Reg had worked with Nigel Dawson, franchise director for easyStorage, during his days with Dyno and the opportunity, along with the timing, felt right. Like most businesses, there is no typical day. But Reg gives an example:
Our day really begins the evening before when, at around five, I assess the requirements for the next day. I check for the jobs that we’ve booked locally, those that have come through the online booking system, VAULT, and loaded automatically and those that have come in from the centralised sales team.
I check that the day planned is logistically possible, with the most efficient routing, and confirm resources we might need. I call every customer for the next day - sometimes this might be to adjust the time of arrival if it’s possible - and I’ll check that what they’ve told us we are doing is still the case and that they haven’t added in anything. I also check about parking and packing - we need to plan resources and confirm we can deliver on the day.
Once complete, I ensure we have the necessary number of vehicles, drivers, loaders, packing materials and pods on the correct vans. It means we’re ready to go first thing, subject to any last-minute changes.
While I can drive the van, which helps if there are any operational needs, I prefer to keep my days clear for working on the business.
I meet our driver at the depot around 7am. We walk around the vehicle, complete safety checks and then run through the day’s bookings - I brief on anything out of the norm that I’m aware of. We also double-check that the packing materials, trolley and necessary kit is on board for the day.
Our storage facility is about five miles from the office, so the driver meets his loader there. While it’s great to get to know the customers, I know the jobs are in the safe hands of my team.
We have three jobs on today. The first is a return of one pod. The second is a three-pod loading job and the final is an inspection which I will handle as we need to be present and I’m the best resource today.
Once I’ve despatched the team, I attend to any incoming email enquiries and then head into Liverpool.
This morning I’m making a pitch to a small network of local estate agents who have identified that their clients are asking for storage. I’ve been working with this company for a couple of months and this is my final presentation of our services. The meeting lasts an hour and a half and goes pretty well. They will confirm next week, but the signs are positive that they will recommend us to their clients.
Since I’m in town, I attend a local business networking lunch. It’s where I have the opportunity to seek new avenues of referral or check what’s happening with the local businesses that attend.
After lunch, the three pod collection is underway and I visit to check all is well. It’s our first job for a local letting agent and, as it’s a fair size with a lot of packing, I head over to give the team a hand and make sure it’s all going smoothly. I also take a look and see if there is anything we need to learn for future jobs with this company, but it all looks straightforward when I get there.
The letting agent manager has turned up and is impressed with our van. It’s been specially designed to create the best loading options and it’s always a great comfort to customers when we seal the pod in front of them before taking it away. We don’t see the items inside again until the pod is returned.
I drive back to the depot then and meet the customer for an inspection. In fact, he needs an item out of the pod - it doesn’t take long to do this - then we reseal it and return it to store.
The team drop the filled pods back to the depot and fill up with empty pods ready for the next job.
Once back in the office, I review my figures against my business plan and have a chat to head office about a new marketing campaign that we’re building online.
The marketing director is very knowledgeable about the way to manage this and puts some great ideas forward. We agree to go live at the beginning of next month. I also follow up some enquiries I received at a local business exhibition. It’s early days for these, but I secure two appointments and feel there is some promising relationship building.
When asked about what he enjoys most, Reg responded: “When I started out, I had the idea that most of the people I’d meet would be people decluttering their homes. In fact, most are going through a significant change. There are three known triggers for storage - death, divorce and relocation. I am amazed at the diversity of the customers we have as a result.
“It’s very rewarding to help the people who are taking the next steps in their lives - the young family who’re moving from a rented house into their first home or an older couple starting their retired life by moving to the coast.”
At a glance
Number of franchised outlets: 7
Location of units: Enfield, Liverpool, Croydon, Hanger Lane, Park Royal, Hemel Hempstead and Dagenham
Investment range: Around £120,000- £150,000, depending on the location and type of initial set up. Franchise fee: £18,500
Minimum required capital: £50,000