On target for a £100,000 turnover

After being made redundant Steve Smith decided to invest in the Chemex franchise. Now he is busier than ever working towards a £100,000 first year turnover

Redundant and with no job prospects on the horizon, former accountant Steve Smith seized the opportunity to retrain and become his own boss in a different industry with cleaning and hygiene supplies franchise Chemex.

"When I was made redundant in December 2008 I decided to investigate investment opportunities within the franchise sector," recalls Steve. "I had a friend who operated a successful franchise and I was keen to replicate their success. While I did research accountancy franchises, I liked the fact that all of the directors at Chemex have been involved in the development of other successful franchise brands. This coupled with the fact I knew two of the directors filled me with confidence because I knew my investment would be in safe hands."

Steve likes the fact that he can build the business from one man-in-a-van to a multi-van enterprise, as he is able to put his managerial skills and experience to good use. Before the launch of his franchise, he attended a two-week training programme which covered all aspects of running the business including in-field training.

Steve continues: "The training was fantastic - with regards to the in-field training I shadowed a new franchise owner and an established franchise owner, so I would know what to expect when I launched and what can be achieved further down the line. Every franchise owner is also assigned a Franchise Support Manager, who is your first port of call if you have any queries, which is superb. Chemex do not throw you in the deep end - for example if you are unsure of what product is best for a particular cleaning job you can call another franchise owner or head office for advice and they are always happy to help."

As well as a comprehensive training and support package, Chemex has what Steve describes as an "impressive online ordering system, which makes it quicker and easier for franchise owners to replenish their cleaning and hygiene product supplies.

He continues: "I launched my North Leicester-based franchise in June 2009. While launching the business in a recession has been tough, once I had canvassed my territory and handed out product samples it became easier as people become aware of the quality products and service on offer. Companies also like the fact that Chemex franchise owners are able to provide their employees with product training and COSHH information for the environmental health officer.

"Being my own boss has enabled me to continue travelling round the country doing gigs with my Blues Brothers tribute band 'UK Chicago Blues'. Going on stage and meeting a variety of people has enabled me to communicate better with all types of people and do a lot of networking!

"I am on target to achieve a £100,000 turnover by the end of my first year and plan to hire an employee to help me deliver the products. Long term my aim is to continue building up the business over a 10-year period so that I can create a valuable asset, which I can then sell on and put towards my retirement fund."

Reported by Jess Sturman