A day in the life of a ChipsAway franchise owner
Last year, franchise owner Andy Darby (pictured top and right) celebrated 10 successful years with leading automotive paintwork repair specialist ChipsAway.
A former soldier in the Royal Engineers, Andy was looking for a practical, hands-on business with potential for high earnings and a long-term opportunity to grow.
In 2000, he started as a ‘man and a van’, but today operates a ChipsAway CarCare Centre, two ChipsAway mobile workshops and a busy team of four employees across three territories. He drives an M3 convertible and estimates his ‘take home’ earnings are up to three times more than his previous salary.
I sometimes get some paperwork done before I head in, but by 8am I’m opening up at the CarCare Centre. I launched my ChipsAway CarCare Centre in May last year and it’s had quite an impact on my working hours. When operating a mobile service, the start of your day is dictated by the length of time it takes to drive to your first customer. Now, because I travel to the CarCare premises every morning, my routine is more predictable.
As we are located reasonably close to the station, customers catching an early train to work often leave their vehicles outside and drop the car keys through the letter box, so we’re busy from first thing in the morning.
For me, it was really important to maintain the mobile ChipsAway service too – some of our customers really value the convenience of having us come to their home or place of work. Ashley and Chris, who work from my ChipsAway vehicles, have both been with me for several years now, so I trust them to manage their own diaries. We keep in touch throughout the day and each morning we have a conference call so that everyone knows who is where and what they are doing. That way, when a customer telephones I know whether we have any spare capacity and which specialist is in their vicinity.
We don’t usually take a mid morning break, but having said that, while we're waiting for paintwork to dry, it’s a good time to stop for a cuppa. What’s not so good is the excellent burger van opposite, which means we’re rather too often tempted to get bacon and egg sandwiches for lunch!
Now that I have the CarCare Centre, we have more capacity and I’m able to take on a lot more work. Our unit is near other car related businesses including a Tyre and Exhaust Centre and an MOT station, so there’s lots of passing trade. To be honest, I’d planned a major launch event, but I've been so busy I haven’t had the time - or needed to spend the money! Between the CarCare Centre and the two mobile workshops, we’re currently processing up to 15 cars a day.
A couple of times a week, Ashley and Chris come into the CarCare Centre so that we can do a stock check and I can collect their invoices for uploading on to the computer system. We’ll follow up any customers who have had estimates but not yet booked in their repair, and I might ask the lads to take out some leaflets and drop them around an area where I’ve noticed we could be generating more leads.
The CarCare Centre closes at 5pm on weekdays – 1pm on a Saturday – but I'm often there until 6pm tidying up and finishing off before heading for the gym. I’m very happy with the way my business has grown. I always planned to build it steadily and feel proud that I’ve managed to enjoy an excellent lifestyle, while still being able to afford to re-invest fairly substantially in developing a successful management franchise.