Cashing in on Chips!

ChipsAway franchise owners have been delighted at the levels of success they are achieving just months after launching their territories.

Husband and wife team Nikki and David Litchfield, together with business partner Edward Irving are somewhat surprised to find themselves operating a ChipsAway franchise – and more surprised still to find their newly launched business has taken off in a way that none of them could have predicted.

Nikki, David and Edward are former Domino’s Pizza franchise owners who sold their highly successful chain of stores at substantial profit, leaving them looking for the next hot opportunity to make money.

Strong focus on serious growth

“The first thing David and I did after selling our Domino’s stores was to take a long break from work, enjoy some special time with our son before he started school and consider our options going forward,” Nikki explains. “We heard about ChipsAway through a former business colleague but knew nothing about the franchise, so we decided to attend a ChipsAway Open Day and find out more. Although the automotive marketplace was absolutely new to us, we were really impressed both by the business model and by the management team at ChipsAway.

“To us, the franchise opportunity looked similar to Domino’s 10 years ago. It has a great service offering, a strong brand with high customer loyalty, huge potential marketplace and a strong focus on serious growth. On the other hand, the investment level for a ChipsAway franchise is substantially lower and this time we wouldn’t be starting out with heavy overheads and a bank debt to service. For all these reasons, although it was completely different from the route we had expected to take, we decided to invest in a ChipsAway franchise.”

Initially, the three agreed to operate as a single ‘man and a van’ franchise, in order to learn the ropes. They have many years of management experience, but as Nikki says, the sector is entirely new to them.

Fantastic launch

Their launch in October was a resounding success. Over a single weekend they wrote estimates amounting to over £21,500, converting almost £8,000 into booked work and taking just under £2,000 in their first week.

“By the second week, I realised we had so much work coming in we needed a second mobile workshop to meet demand and ChipsAway was brilliant in getting that organised for us at incredibly short notice,” Nikki confirms. “We have another promotion coming up and I expect to put a third vehicle on the road soon after that.”

Better quality of life

Ambitious, hard-working and very switched on to local marketing, Nikki is clearly relishing the challenge and excitement of launching the new business. But she has also discovered another unexpected benefit to being a ChipsAway franchise owner.

“I have my quality of life back,” she smiles. “The difference is amazing. Obviously we’re all working long hours and are prepared to give everything it takes to make our new venture a success – if we’re not painting cars, we’re not earning – but it’s all so much less pressured than our previous business environment. There is tremendous support from the ChipsAway management team – your successes are noticed and your ideas are valued – nothing is too much trouble. It sounds a bit cheesy, but there’s a real family atmosphere. What’s more, I’m working daylight hours instead of being busy at midnight – it’s so much better for the family!”

Multi-million pound business

“We’re fiercely ambitious and have already scheduled opening our first ChipsAway CarCare Centre after 12 months. It’s early days for us, but I can definitely see the possibility of a second CarCare Centre and two more mobile units. After that, it will be about acquiring more territories and taking on employees to keep up with demand. Our aim is to build a multi-million pound business and, based on the figures so far, I’m confident that we can do it!”

Alistair Hoy (pictured right) is another ChipsAway franchise owner who shares the Litchfields’ vision. He invested in his franchise less than a year ago, with his sights firmly set on opening a ChipsAway CarCare Centre within six months.

Having recently achieved that, Alistair has now begun the process of building a team of technicians to help him and expects to invest in additional ChipsAway vehicles over the coming months. In common with the Litchfields, Alistair predicts that if all goes according to plan, his ChipsAway franchise will be a million pound turnover business within three to five years.

“My background has been in sales and marketing,” Alistair explains. “I have held senior roles in companies operating in the USA and Asia and because I wasn’t in a position to invest up to £200,000 in one of the major franchise brands I, therefore, looked around for a business opportunity with the potential to grow into a sizeable operation.

“ChipsAway emerged as the clear choice, not only offering a scaleable business model, but also a growing brand presence in the marketplace.”

Alistair recognised that in order to build his ChipsAway business, he first needed to understand it inside and out. His comprehensive initial training and first months out on the road in a fully equipped mobile ChipsAway workshop has not only given him the necessary technical skills to repair minor automotive paintwork damage, but an insight into customer perceptions and demands.

“Owners of fast food franchises don’t invest in order to flip burgers or cook pizzas, they invest to develop a business and make profit, but first they roll their sleeves up and learn what their employees will be required to do. I’ve taken the same approach to my ChipsAway business. As I take on more employees, I expect to do less and less painting, focusing instead on business development.”

When he opens his ChipsAway CarCare Centre, Alistair will be able to take on more work, but he says he will continue to operate a mobile service too.

“Obviously, not travelling in between jobs means you can fit in more repairs,” he points out. However, the ChipsAway brand is synonymous with high quality repairs backed with exceptional service and lots of our customers really appreciate the convenience aspect of our offering.”

He adds: “ChipsAway is really getting it right with their focus on customer marketing and particularly TV advertising – although the company has been established in the UK for over 15 years, it feels as though I’ve got in on something that’s just beginning. Brand awareness is growing and so is market share – it’s an exciting time to become part of the ChipsAway success story!”

ChipsAway is one of the UK’s leading repair specialists, with a nationwide network of around 350 specialists providing high quality on-the-spot repairs to minor automotive paintwork damage from fully equipped mobile workshops. Repairs are completed within a matter of hours and at a fraction of the cost of traditional body shop repair methods. With 34 million cars on the road and more than 17 million repair opportunities each year, ChipsAway estimates it currently only deals with three per cent of market demand!

Reported by Megan Dunmore