ChipsAway: Profit from your passion for cars!

For the 350-strong ChipsAway franchise network, the 10 million cars in the UK represent a lucrative source of ongoing business. For individuals like franchisee Andy Darby, they're also a life-long passion. Megan Dunmore reports

The proud owner of a new BMW Z4 sports car, Andy is a true devotee. He has a Ferrari in his sights within the next two years, but first is concentrating on building up his business.

'I did put a deposit on a Ferrari last year, but the deal fell through so I decided to buy the Z4 and invest in expanding my business instead of blowing everything on the car,' he says. 'I've also recently moved house, but give me a year or two and I'll be shopping again...definitely!'

Before becoming a ChipsAway franchisee, Andy spent 11 years with the Royal Engineers. By the time he left the Army he had already decided that he wanted to work for himself - and in particular with cars. 'I wanted something profitable,' he says. 'Everyone has a car, so I figured that meant there is a massive marketplace and, naturally, the idea of working on cars for a living really appealed to me too.'

Initially Andy visited the National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC looking for a windscreen repair franchise, but when he spotted the ChipsAway stand he knew he'd found a 'far better' opportunity.

ChipsAway is one of the most successful franchises in the UK with around 350 franchisees operating nationwide, and an expanding network of Master Franchises overseas. Based on unique patented technology, introduced to this country 10 years ago, ChipsAway has become the dominant force in 'on-the-spot' SMART (Small & Medium Area Repair Technology) repairs - a system which repairs scratches, bumps and scuffs to car paintwork on a 'same day' basis and usually at a fraction of the price of a traditional body shop repair.

Five years after launching his business Andy has expanded to add two more ChipsAway vans to his first fully equipped mobile paint repair workshop, as well as training two people to help him. As a team, Andy estimates that between them they repair between 50 and 60 cars a week, and demand for his services is continuing to grow leading him to consider further investment in a ChipsAway CarCare Centre as his next move.

'I call it 'the Pond Effect',' Andy says. 'You do a job for one person on a street, and they spread the word to friends and neighbours. It's getting better and better all the time.'

The result is long working days and a six day week, but Andy insists he is happy to put in the hours. 'I have a 'work hard, play hard' philosophy,' he grins. 'I'm a social animal - I like clubbing and parties, holidays in the sun and above all, nice cars - so I'm prepared to work hard to achieve what I want in life... including that Ferrari!'

He recalls that within a couple of months he was earning the same level of income he had as a soldier. Now he's making 'substantially more' and reckons he's beginning to make serious money.

'I really enjoyed being a soldier,' he concludes, 'but I have no regrets whatsoever - this is great!'

One Great Franchise

ChipsAway developed the first ever SMART (Small and Medium Area Repair Technology) system for repairing minor damage to automotive paintwork in Pennsylvania, USA. The concept was launched in the UK 10 years ago offering a high quality, low cost and convenient alternative to traditional body shop repairs.

ChipsAway International has remained the dominant brand in the SMART repairs sector, with over 350 successful franchisees in operation nationwide and Master Franchisees in 11 countries worldwide.

With 30 million cars on the roads in the UK alone, and an estimated 10 million repair opportunities annually, the ChipsAway franchise is set to grow and grow, creating for Sandip Kalkat and hard working, ambitious people like him an opportunity limited only by their dreams.

Reported by Megan Dunmore