Referral business builds quickly for Autosheen franchisee

Previously a successful business owner, Len Parfitt looked to move into a sector with less risk and more returns. Fleet valeting franchise Autosheen offered the solution and 12 months later he's making the most of a growing opportunity with national account work

Former butcher Len Parfitt has chopped his overheads in favour of a choice business opportunity! After 37 years as a butcher, with a chain of three shops, Len saw the writing on the wall for small high street businesses and so decided to sell up and start afresh. Determined to use his business knowledge, the people skills he'd gained over the years and to keep overheads to a minimum, he turned for inspiration to his long-time passion, classic cars. 'I'm an absolute petrol head!' he smiles. 'I love classic cars and get enormous satisfaction from keeping them in immaculate condition, so it occurred to me that if I could get paid for doing something I thoroughly enjoyed, that would be a real result!'

Len quickly identified specialist fleet valeting franchise Autosheen as the prime contender, a business opportunity that not only enabled him to work with cars and keep costs low, but also offered him the potential for tapping into an established portfolio of National Account customers, between them accounting for a massive 1.2 million vehicles in need of regular valeting services. 'There's a lot of contract work,' Len confirms. 'For example, my regular customers include the DWP (Department of Work & Pensions), the Land Registry and Network Rail. It's a wonderful feeling when you first start out having customers already lined up for you.'

When he first launched, National Accounts contract work represented 100 per cent of his work, however Len is no slouch and within 12 months of his launch, he'd built up his business to a level where only around half his work was from National Accounts, the remainder being regular customers Len had gained for himself.

'The training and ongoing support from Autosheen stands you in really good stead,' Len confirms. 'They are great people and do everything they can to make your business a success, but at the end of the day it's your business and it's down to you to put in the hard work to make it grow. I love what I do and think my enthusiasm is infectious - word of mouth recommendation certainly seems to play an increasingly important part in bringing in new business.'

Another bonus for Len is that his fitness has improved since he's been an Autosheen franchisee. 'I got precious little exercise before and actually had a few heart problems,' he admits. 'That's all changed now - valeting is fairly physically demanding work, so I'm in great shape and feel better than I have done in years!'

Len concludes that you get out of your business what you put in. He deliberately chose to go down the franchising route because although he knew his strengths, he also understood that in order to enter a completely different marketplace, he needed to tap into other people's expertise and experience. Autosheen offered him exactly that and more.

'I operate in a sizeable area and have only just started to realise its potential. In the future, I plan to take on someone else to help me expand my business and in the long term would like to build up to having two or three vans on the road. Autosheen has given me a great business opportunity and I intend to make the most of it!'

Autosheen is one of the UK's longest established valeting franchises. A regular income stream for franchisees from day one, together with a premium product range and superb franchisee support structure, sets it apart from competitors. Recent business gains and a range of established national account contracts, including seven of the 10 largest leasing companies in the UK, means that Autosheen is looking to attract new franchisees across the UK to service new and existing contracts.

Interview by Megan Dunmore