Businesses for Car Lovers Automotive Franchises

The appeal of an automotive franchise is not limited just to the 'petrolhead' car enthusiast, in a market where new car sales have taken a massive nosedive there are many franchises focused on servicing existing cars that are experiencing a surge in demand. Here some automotive franchisors provide details of how their own services are being affected by the recession

Terry Smith, Founder, Mobile Car Valeting
Mobile Car Valeting offers a self sufficient vehicle cleaning operation done on site at the customer's premises. MCV has been established for over 20 years and we pride ourself on our standards, reliability and good old fashioned customer service. In an industry packed with one man band operations we offer a truly viable alternative.

While the recession has seen a big decline in new cars valeted, MCV's client base has actually increased because clients are having their old cars valeted rather than buying new. Furthermore, MCV has seen a definite change in the way that people buy their vehicles - for example leasing is becoming more and more popular, which in turn means more work for MCV because leasing companies stipulate that the car must be returned clean.

Our core business has remained strong and our existing franchise owners have a loyal client base who quite frankly can't go anywhere else to save money and get the same level of service that we give. At present our franchise owner network numbers 24 with one planned for Dubai and we would like to recruit between five and 10 in the next 12 months.

Lloyd Evans, Chief Executive, ChipsAway (pictured top)
Ironically, the drop in new car sales has had the effect of substantially increasing new business for ChipsAway franchise owners. Rather than make the major investment of a new car purchase in the current uncertain climate, motorists are spending money on keeping existing vehicles in good condition for longer. By maintaining cars properly and keeping them in good condition owners can both extend the life of their vehicles and maintain resale value.

ChipsAway franchise owners provide a professional mobile repair service for minor automotive paintwork damage such as scratches, scuffs and stone chips. They can also make repairs to alloy wheels and interior trim. The appeal of the service is that it can be completed within a matter of a few hours, at a time/location convenient to the customer, and at around half the cost of traditional body shop methods.

There has always been high demand for our services with many franchise owners actually struggling to meet demand. The credit crunch has served to highlight the benefits of our system compared to traditional body shop methods to a wider audience as people shop around for more cost-effective repairs. We believe that as the recession lifts we will emerge with a substantially larger customer base and an even more widely recognised brand. With around 32 million vehicles on the road, our potential marketplace is enormous.

Lloyd Evans, Chief Executive, Autosheen
Autosheen franchise owners provide high quality professional car cleaning services to private individuals and businesses. Specialised value-added services such as clay barring (exfoliation for car paintwork!), waterless valeting and Autoguard protective surfacing, particularly appeal to customers with prestige vehicles, who are prepared to pay premium prices for top quality valets.

In the main, the recession has affected the 'man and a bucket' valeters who depend upon ad hoc, low price business. By contrast, those customers prepared to pay for a comparatively expensive valeting service tend to be either affluent (often retired) individuals to whom the cost of the valet is incidental or those businesses that need to keep a pristine fleet to maintain their professional image. Both groups place high value on their vehicles and only allow a credible, professional valeter anywhere near them!

Autosheen has a 25 year track record and a National Account portfolio that includes names such as Network Rail, Lloyds TSB and six of the 10 largest leasing companies in the UK. We expect to build on this solid base and intend to take advantage of our strong market position to secure more major customers as we emerge from recession, finding a consolidated marketplace with fewer competitors.

Terry Mullen, Director, Revive!(pictured second from top)
OUR mobile paint repairs to vehicles give customers a convenient and cost effective alternative to the traditional bodyshop repair. While new car sales have affected confidence in the car market and sales were tough through the winter, the used car market has been booming since March.

New cars are not our primary market as they don't get damaged too often as they are new! We have seen a huge amount of interest from both fleet companies, who are extremely focused on cost reduction at this time, and the general public, where customers have decided to get their current vehicle 'revived' rather than buy a new car.

Given that we are currently in a recession the interest that we have for work is tremendous. We have worked hard throughout the winter and are seeing the rewards with some franchise owners producing staggering results considering the current economic climate. We believe that the business will continue to go from strength to strength.

Tony Bowman, Managing Director, etyres(pictured second from bottom)
etyres supplies and fits brand named tyres up to 40 per cent cheaper than the high street depots such as Kwik Fit and ATS. It is a mobile service, which appeals to everyone whether they need their tyres fitting at work or on their driveway at home. Our service has been singled out by motoring and consumer experts, including Quentin Willson, for combining cheap prices for premium products with excellent service. We save our customers time, hassle and money! There is no doubt these factors have made us even busier. In a recession everyone looks to save money and with the internet it's even easier to do this. People can log on with a coffee, type in 'tyres in (their area)' and in minutes they can see we are cheaper! Then they can order online and sit back and wait for us to come to them! It's a no brainer!

The drop in new car sales also has a knock on effect. There is no getting round the fact that your vehicle tyres must be legal for your MOT or to avoid getting fines or penalties, not to mention the fact your car is not safe if your tyres have lost their grip. The kind of people who would normally be in the market to buy a new car, are also the kind of consumers who will want to take good care of their old vehicles, so again they need replacement tyres. There are between 27 and 30 million cars on the UK roads, they will all need new tyres at some point. Even when the economy recovers the internet is still going to be a massive draw for customers, not just because it offers better deals but because it's quicker, easier and more convenient than trawling round the bricks and mortar retailers. The IT revolution is only just starting and the potential is massive. We were the first online tyres retailer in the UK and we have had and always maintained a clear lead over our competitors.

Jamie May, Project Manager, SMART'ABC(pictured bottom)
We provide a mobile service to the motorist rectifying unsightly damage to paint and body work. The benefits to the customer are that a typical repair takes only one hour or less at their home or place of work, and repairs cost approximately 50 per cent of conventional methods.

The current economy has increased demand for our service due to the collapse of new vehicle sales and subsequent increase in used vehicle sales. Used car dealers are reporting a boom in sales with some describing demand as unprecedented. Subsequently, as used vehicles, they require paint rectification at some stage during the sales or purchase process.

I believe we are in an incredible market. The automobile has been finished with a painted colour coat right from the earliest days. Technology and environmental concern is changing fuels and construction materials, but remain with a painted finish. Although, recent changes in legislation has forced the industry to move to more environmentally compliant materials, the process remains the same.

At Smart ABC we have developed a unique system complying with legislation but also benefitting from massive performance gains that are totally unrivalled. During our selection process we look for partners that share our passion for professionalism and quality of service. We currently have 45 franchise owners and this is increasing with controlled growth. Our ambition is to be 80 strong by the end of the year.