Polish and Professionalism keep Autosheen shining

Leading mobile valeting franchise Autosheen Professional Car Cleaning is continuing to shine despite the current gloomy economic outlook. According to Chief Executive Lloyd Evans, the secret lies in the highly professional Autosheen approach and the polished performance of both its franchise owners and its exclusive product range

The valeting marketplace is enormous with great untapped potential, but it is highly fragmented. There are very few companies offering high quality, truly professional services. The majority tend to be untrained 'cowboys' who have bought a van, set up on their own and use inferior products. These people can often do more damage than good to customers' cars, but fortunately for us most businesses and private owners of prestige cars are very careful about who they allow to valet their vehicles, and are prepared to pay well for a professional valeter that they trust.'

Autosheen franchise owners are trained to provide full valeting services, including clay barring (described by Autosheen as an 'exfoliation' for car paintwork to remove every last speck before polish is applied, achieving a perfect mirror shine), tyre dressing and application of special protective coatings to paintwork and upholstery, affording an astonishing showroom result that delights customers time after time.

The franchise owners themselves are dressed in smart corporate workwear and operate from strikingly liveried, fully equipped vehicles. As soon as Autosheen franchise owners arrive at customers' premises, they instantly inspire confidence. They are trained in sales and marketing techniques too, so as well as impressing with the quality of their valets, they are able to deal professionally with their customers and build strong relationships, resulting in regular, repeat bookings and word of mouth recommendation to colleagues, family and friends.

Autosheen prides itself on the ongoing support it provides to its network. After training and launch, franchise owners receive one-to-one support from a member of the management team out on their territory during the first few days, to help them get started. Further support is available via a telephone helpline, and franchise owners continue to receive leads from the company's 24/7 UK-based call centre. In fact, the support Autosheen provides is second to none. After all, it's in the franchisor's best interest to give franchise owners every possible chance of success.

Franchise owner Nick Robson's experience is a case in point. A former AutoCad programmer, Nick joined Autosheen in 2007. His business had been launched successfully and was growing well when disaster struck and a car accident wrote off Nick's specially customised van and wiped out his stock of valeting products. 'Fortunately, I wasn't seriously hurt,' he confirms. 'However, I had no vehicle or products. Potentially it could have ruined me, but Autosheen were absolutely fantastic - they agreed that I could use one of their own vehicles until a new one could be sorted out for me. I had it for several months but Autosheen absorbed the rental costs as well as helping out by allowing me to spread payments for re-stocking with replacement products. Quite frankly, I can't speak highly enough of the support I've had from the Autosheen management team.'

A strong portfolio of National Account customers is another aspect of the franchise that sets Autosheen apart from competitors and provides franchise owners with a 'bread and butter' base for their business. Naturally, franchise owners are expected to develop and grow their businesses by securing customers on their own territories. However, the opportunity for regular contract work from National Account customers provides a welcome additional income stream, particularly to franchise owners new to the network.

Autosheen's National Account customers include well-known organisations like Network Rail and Lloyds TSB, government departments such as the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP), as well as several of the UK's largest leasing companies. Companies like Inchcape, for example, are impressed with our professionalism, reliability and the quality finish we can achieve, as well as the excellent levels of service we are able to provide. It is important to many of our high profile customers that Autosheen is IMI (Institute of Motor Industry) approved and holds the industry's QAA excellence award, which reflects the outstanding calibre of our franchise owners.

Clearly, to achieve the superb finish that customers love, Autosheen franchise owners depend on a best-in-class, exclusive product range. A particular winner is Autoguard, known among franchise owners as 'Posh Polish', a specialised treatment applied after completion of the valeting process that provides excellent protection for surfaces - whether external paintwork or interior trim and upholstery. Although initially an expensive 'extra' for customers, the product is highly lucrative for franchise owners and, according to Nick Robson, once tried is never forgotten!

'Autoguard is an incredibly effective protective coating,' he explains. 'I usually offer it to particular customers who take great pride in their cars and those who decide to have the service are always hugely impressed. On an average week I would expect to make between £1,000-£1,400, but a few Autoguard treatments can more or less double my takings. In a recent week my sales reached £2,400, largely because I was charging up to £450 for an Autoguard treatment, so it's definitely worth focussing on the value-added high end products!'

This year, Autosheen celebrates 25 years of successful franchising. An established business model with a strong reputation and an excellent track record, it offers hard working practical people an outstanding opportunity to build a profitable, flexible and immensely satisfying business, at a surprisingly affordable price.