Business on a plate. National accounts provide work from the outset

Regular fleet work from high profile businesses and government departments is the reward for franchisee Robbie Blount, thanks to Autosheen's environmentally friendly waterless valeting services

After over 20 years as a Head Chef and Hospitality Manager, Robbie Blount made the life changing decision to launch his own business. Understandably, initially he looked at franchises in the catering and food industry, but ultimately he opted for a franchise that had no connection at all with catering - other than offering its franchisees regular business on a plate!

Autosheen is a well established fleet valeting franchise, with a strong portfolio of long standing national account contracts including Royal Mail, DWP (Department of Work & Pensions), HMRC (Revenue & Customs), BSkyB and six of the 10 largest leasing companies in the UK, amounting to 1.2 million cars to be valeted by Autosheen franchisees for contract customers alone.

As its national account business grows, the company is actively looking for franchisees to join its network and service existing customer requirements. 'Of course, it is the responsibility of franchisees to build their own businesses and we provide strong support in helping them develop new customers of their own,' explains Tim Harris, Franchise Manager at Autosheen, 'but it's undoubtedly a fantastic bonus to have existing work handed to you more or less on a plate when you start out on your own. There are very few other franchise opportunities that can offer such a great springboard to new franchisees!'

Robbie agrees: 'I've been really impressed. Initially, it seemed quite daunting trying something entirely new at my age and I was really nervous to be honest. However, I can't believe how well everything has worked out. I launched my new Autosheen franchise in May this year and I have had lots of work from the outset. My national account business - I valet vehicles for Lloyds TSB, British Waterways and Job Centre Plus among others - is my 'bread and butter', but I'm also bringing in plenty of business from new customers of my own. The prospect of existing customers and potential income before I even started was a real confidence builder for me and has definitely helped me in getting my business underway.'

Robbie confesses that he has always enjoyed taking care of his own car and is thoroughly enjoying his new lease of life. He undertakes regular leaflet drops on his territory, which is bringing in new leads for him, and first time customers are more often than not turning into regular business and are generating further work from word of mouth referrals.

He has been surprised by the strong demand he's encountered for Autosheen's waterless valeting services, as businesses and government departments increasingly prioritise environmental responsibility. 'Often I win business from certain customers who wouldn't dream of using a standard valeter,' he confirms. 'The waterless valet is amazing to see and gives a superb finish - I'm finding it a real winner!'

Autosheen has just secured a major new national account contract to provide waterless valeting services to Galliford Try, one of the UK's leading construction and housebuilding groups, valeting 1,200 cars nationwide. They join the growing number of Autosheen customers, including DEFRA, The Land Registry and certain Work & Pensions Departments, to use the Autosheen waterless valeting system only.

Interview by Megan Dunmore