Business builders ChipsAway franchise owners are thinking big!

ChipsAway franchise owners Andy Darby and Andrew Cooper are both opening CarCare Centres to cope with the growing demand for their services

More and more ChipsAway franchise owners are thinking big; having initially launched a 'man and a van' franchise, an increasing number are building management franchises, expanding into multi-vehicle operations or investing in ChipsAway CarCare Centres.

Brand leaders in minor automotive paintwork repair technology, ChipsAway provides high quality repairs to small scratches, bumps and scuffs in a matter of hours and at a fraction of the cost of traditional body shop repair methods.

The potential marketplace for ChipsAway services is massive, with more than 34 million cars on the road and around 17 million estimated repair opportunities each year.

Most franchise owners operate from fully equipped mobile workshops and so enjoy low overheads with high flexibility. However, strong demand for services and growing customer bases are the twin driving forces behind increasing investment into larger scale businesses on the part of franchise owners such as Andy Darby, who this year celebrates ten years with ChipsAway.

Andy, who will shortly be launching a new ChipsAway CarCare Centre, spent 11 years with the Royal Engineers before becoming a franchise owner in 2000. Within two years he had invested in a second franchise territory, putting an additional vehicle on the road and taking on an employee. Subsequently, Andy expanded again, adding a third vehicle to his thriving business and a third member to the team. Despite the difficulties faced by many businesses last year, Andy reports that 2009 was one of his best years yet and says 2010 is shaping up to be even better.

Although, only approaching three years as a franchise owner, Andrew Cooper is a realtively new recruit to the ChipsAway network. He nevertheless shares Andy's ambition to grow his business and develop more of a management role going forward.

Andrew expanded to take on a second area adjacent to his initial territory only seven months after launching his ChipsAway franchise and, like Andy, he is opening a ChipsAway CarCare Centre to cope with demand. "Customers don't want to have to wait several days to have repairs done and I was losing potential work," he explains. "Now I've recruited someone to help me and I am expanding into premises, my business is simply flying!"

Andrew is no stranger to running a business or to working long hours. His family owns a convenience store, which Andrew ran for a number of years before joining ChipsAway; but when his wife became pregnant, he decided to invest in a business that would allow him to make money while enjoying more quality time at home.

"You have to keep a local shop open long hours and you seem to be forever working," he says. "My ChipsAway franchise has delivered increased flexibility, but to really build up your business without compromising that precious quality of life, you need to have more than one person processing the repairs - there are only so many hours in the day after all!"

For both Andy Darby and Andrew Cooper, what sets ChipsAway apart from many franchises is the ongoing support they have received from the franchisor, not only to launch and establish their businesses, but also to help them develop and grow.

"In addition to the professional business advice I've received, I've also felt positive benefit from ChipsAway's national marketing activity," says Andy Darby. "Last year's high profile TV campaign was great, and I know that more TV promotions are on the cards for this year. ChipsAway is teaming up with Fifth Gear presenter Vicki Butler-Henderson to help further increase awareness of ChipsAway among our customers - so I'm standing by for demand for my services to go through the roof!"

Reported by Megan Dunmore