Rising through the ranks!

Ex-Forces Paul Fennell has big plans in his new Managing Director role at Autosheen.

One of franchising's undoubted success stories is that of Paul Fennell, whose recent appointment at Autosheen Professional Car Care marks the latest milestone in a remarkable journey, from man and a van franchise owner to Managing Director of the UK's number one mobile valeting franchise.

After 12 years in the Army, Paul left H.M. Forces determined to carve a successful career for himself; in particular he dreamed of being his own boss and being answerable only to himself for his failure or success.

"My years in the Army had prepared me for self-employment in that I had learned self-discipline, acquired practical skills and had a pretty tough skin!" he confides. "I also understood how to get along with other people, but was well able to work by myself. A so-called 'man and a van' franchise appealed to me primarily because I couldn't see myself tied to an office or shop, I wanted flexibility and relatively low overheads, as well as something practical and hands-on."

Paul's investigations at that time led him to a carpet and upholstery cleaning franchise, where he spent eleven years as a franchise owner before selling his business and joining the management team. During that time, he built a successful multi-vehicle operation and was awarded the coveted accolade of Franchise Owner of The Year on more than one occasion. He spent a combined total of five years as Franchise Manager and then Franchise Operations Manager before leaving and taking over as Managing Director at Autosheen PCC at a critical point in the company's history.

Paul takes up the story: "Autosheen had just been acquired by Farécla, one of the world's leading names in automotive surface refinishing," he explains. "Under new ownership, Autosheen was ideally positioned to capitalise on the strong, well respected Farécla product range as well as diversifying into new lucrative sectors that are core to the parent company.

"However, a well-experienced hand on the tiller was required to provide the strong support and leadership that the Autosheen franchise owner network expected and deserved. When I was offered the opportunity to take on that role, I jumped at the challenge."

One of Paul's great strengths as Managing Director is his ability to empathise with his franchise owners, having been in their situation and shared their perspective; another is the drive and focus he brings to the role, thanks to early years spent in the Army.

In the few short months since he joined Farécla to head up Autosheen, Paul has introduced a number of dramatic changes. He has strengthened the franchise package, increasing territory size and significantly extending in-house training opportunities, making more courses free to franchise owners and providing additional support through individual business development days. Determined to open up new markets, including marine and leisure vehicles, Paul has also introduced new products to the Autosheen range as well as investing in a range of glossy new marketing materials.

"Franchise owners are already seeing the impact of those changes," he says. "We have secured some new regional business which is benefiting a number of our franchise owners and have upgraded some of our existing national contracts. We are providing more customer focused marketing support on franchise owners' local territories and will be phasing in a new larger capacity vehicle from September this year."

He adds, "Autosheen is exactly the kind of franchise that suits hard-working, self-disciplined people, such as ex-Services personnel, offering an interesting, practical, hands-on business with a strong brand presence, a track record of success and fresh focus on the future."

Reported by Megan Dunmore