Steve’s shining future with Autosheen

When Woolworths closed in 2009 with the loss of some 27,000 jobs, Steve Gladwin was one of the casualties, but found his career salvation in Autosheen

After eight years working in a retail environment, Steve Gladwin was looking for a change but at that time was unsure of his future direction, so when the opportunity to work for a friend’s franchise business arose, he took it.

“I spent a couple of years working for my friend’s business,” 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.”

Steve, 26, knew he wanted to work with cars, so his first move was to contact one of the UK’s best known mobile valeting specialists, Autosheen.

“It was important to me to understand how I could build a sustainable, profitable business from valeting,” says Steve. “Therefore, I arranged to attend one of Autosheen’s fact-finding Discovery Days, where they went through the business model in detail and were very open. I had the chance to meet existing franchise owners, and the management team were highly professional, yet very approachable. I was further reassured by the fact that Autosheen is part of the Farécla Group, who actually manufacture the valeting products they use.”

According to Steve, everything about Autosheen felt right – from the company’s impressive website to the comprehensive package of support, so in April last year, he took the leap and invested in a franchise.

He says he hasn’t looked back since – his launch was a big success and he describes the level of support he has received since as ‘great’.

“As part of your launch programme, head office sets up a series of demonstrations to potential customers for you on your territory,” Steve continues. “This gets the ball rolling straight away. 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. What’s more, Autosheen’s General Manager, Adrian Stiehl, accompanies you for your first few days until you get the hang of it. No matter how well you perform in a training environment, a real life situation can throw up different challenges. Having Adrian there to show you how to handle various circumstances is a real confidence booster!”

A year on, Steve’s business is growing strongly, despite the difficult current climate. In fact, he has just completed his best month yet – thanks to continued promotion to his own regular customer base, as well as to the local community. Repeat business and word-of-mouth recommendations are increasingly important too.

Personalised cards to customers at Christmas, free upgrade vouchers and recommend-a-friend incentives are just a few of the marketing initiatives that have paid off for Steve.

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

For year two, Steve is planning to increase his prices to new customers, while loyal customers will enjoy existing rates. After all, he says, a regularly cleaned car is much easier and less time consuming to maintain! He has already benefited from the new application partnership Autosheen has forged with Tribos surface coatings, earning over £400 for each individual treatment, and he expects that income stream to increase as Tribos secures more contracts in 2012.

“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! It’s certainly tough to make the transition from employee to self-employment, but at Autosheen the team is behind you all the way!”

Written by Megan Dunmore