Steve excels with Autosheen

When Woolworths closed in 2009, Steve Gladwin became one of the 27,000 people left unemployed. Now, with a complete career turnaround, he’s joined the Autosheen fleet and is reaping the rewards from running his own business

After eight years in a retail environment, Steve Gladwin wanted a change but was unsure of his future direction. However, as a temporary solution, he took the opportunity to work for a friend’s franchise. He explains: “I’d not previously considered starting my own business, but having seen all the advantages of a franchise first-hand I became convinced that this could be the way forward for me.”

With this experience together with a keen interest in cars, Steve made his first move towards a new career and contacted Autosheen, the UK’s best-known mobile valeting specialists.

“It was important for me to understand how I could build a sustainable, profitable business from valeting,” says Steve, 26. “Therefore I arranged to attend one of Autosheen’s Discovery Days. They went through the business model in detail and I met and spoke to existing franchise owners. They also explained how Autosheen is part of the Farécla Group and how their valeting products are manufactured by them. In addition, the management team were highly professional as well as being open and approachable.”

According to Steve, he was impressed with all aspects of the Autosheen franchise offer. Having seen their products, training and comprehensive support package, he made the decision to invest. Since then, he’s excelled beyond all his expectations.

Commenting on his first few months, he explains how Autosheen helped kick-start his success from the very outset: “As part of your launch programme, head office sets up a series of demonstrations to potential customers for you on your territory,” Steve continues: “Once you’ve demonstrated the quality of the valet, the results speak for themselves – I’ve gained a lot of work simply by demonstrating in the first instance.”

Another key factor was Autosheen’s initial training programme, which included three days of on-the-job field support with Autosheen’s General Manager, Adrian Stiehl. Available to all new starters, Steve explains: “No matter how well you perform in a training environment, real life situations can throw up different challenges. Having Adrian there to show you how to handle various circumstances is a real confidence booster.”

A year and a half on and his business is growing strong, despite the current economic climate. Last summer Steve saw record sales and now he’s receiving pre-bookings for months in advance. “As the winter sets in, I take the time to contact my regular customers and now half of my 2013 diary is already booked out.”

Steve takes pride in his work and, as a result, generates a significant amount of business through word-of-mouth recommendations from happy customers. However, he also appreciates how simple marketing tools have played an important role.

“I try to be as proactive as possible,” he confirms. “Ultimately, it’s up to you to build your business. You can’t just sit back and wait for the phone to ring.”

Now in year two, he plans to grow his profits with price increases for new customers; loyal clients will still enjoy his existing rates. In addition, he’s benefiting from a new application partnership Autosheen has forged with Tribos, earning over £400 for each individual surface coating treatment.

“Joining Autosheen was definitely the right decision for me,” he concludes. “I love the freedom and flexibility of being my own boss. I’ve cut the long hours that come with a career in the retail sector, but for the hours I put in now the rewards come directly to me – so effectively, I’ve cut out the ‘middle man’ too.”

Written by Megan Dunmore