Champagne moments from ChipsAway

After eight years with a leading pizza delivery franchise, Simon Pickles decided on a radical change of direction by investing in a ChipsAway franchise

Barely a year after the launch of his first ChipsAway management franchise, Simon Pickles is geared up to expand into a second territory and employ extra staff.

Simon’s route to franchising success with the automotive paintwork repair business began when he sold his two pizza delivery stores to invest in his first ChipsAway CarCare Centre (fixed-base workshop).

“It has been absolutely fantastic,” he confirms. “I have had excellent support throughout, from the initial intensive training through to ongoing marketing and business development coaching. ChipsAway has been great and I’m delighted with the way my business is growing.”

A combination of factors triggered the move from pizza delivery to automotive paintwork repairs, primarily the stress of operating two busy stores and managing 65 staff, working long hours and late nights was getting too much.

“Although it was a good business and I did well out of it, I was no longer enjoying the highly demanding working environment,” Simon explains. “ChipsAway has provided a fresh challenge in a completely different marketplace. It’s still hard work – building any business is – but the hours are sensible, the atmosphere is professional yet relaxed and, best of all, I deal with all my customers face to face.”

While an increasing number of ChipsAway franchise owners are expanding their businesses and opening ChipsAway CarCare Centres, Simon is one of the first to invest directly in a management franchise from the outset, without first operating a ‘man and a van’ mobile business. According to Chief Executive Tim Harris, this is a trend ChipsAway expects to continue.

“Traditionally, our business model has been based on franchise owners providing repairs from fully equipped mobile workshops, and the core of our network is exactly that,” explains Tim. “However, as demand for our services continues to grow, those franchise owners who are ambitious to develop their businesses, are seizing the opportunity to expand into CarCare Centres, which facilitates easy expansion – taking on employees, processing more repairs and, as a result, making more money.

“More recently, a number of franchise owners have joined us with the declared intention of growing their business into a management franchise, initially investing in the van-based format but making the transition to a CarCare Centre, usually within 12 months. However, Simon is the first to set up a management franchise from scratch and we are delighted with his success!”

For Simon, the key to that success is marketing.

“ChipsAway is really switched on with its national marketing, so the brand is increasingly well recognised and it’s up to me to build on that locally,” he says. “Providing excellent repairs and good value for money is a given, but it’s all about communicating regularly with customers to keep the work flowing in.

“I’m much happier and more relaxed. I’m on course to deliver everything I want to achieve and I get real satisfaction from what I do. It’s a great feeling when your customer’s face lights up as he sees you’ve restored his pride and joy to perfection – you simply don’t get those ‘champagne moments’ when you deliver a pizza!”

ChipsAway is the UK’s leading automotive paintwork repair specialist, with a nationwide network of around 350 specialists providing high quality on-the-spot repairs to minor damage such as paintwork scratches, bumper scuffs and kerbed alloy wheels. 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 over 17 million repair opportunities each year, ChipsAway estimates that it currently only deals with three per cent of market demand.

Written by Megan Dunmore