ChipsAway: Profiting from passion
For hardworking ChipsAway franchisee Andy Darby, a passion for cars means big profits.
The proud owner of a sporty BMW Z4, Andy is a true car lover. He has a Ferrari in his sights for the future, but for now he is concentrating on building his business further.
'I did put a deposit on a Ferrari a couple of years ago,' he admits, 'but the deal fell through. I decided to buy the Z4 instead and invest in expanding my business rather than blowing everything on a car. I've also moved house recently - but give me a year or two and I'll be shopping around again for definite!'
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, work with cars. 'I wanted something profitable,' he says. 'Everyone has a car, so I figured that meant 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 says 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 a network of master franchises overseas. Based on unique patented technology, introduced to this country 12 years ago, ChipsAway has remained the dominant force in 'on-the-spot' SMART (Small & Medium Area Repair Technology) repairs. The ChipsAway system 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 expanded to add another ChipsAway van 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 40-50 cars a week, and demand for his services has continued to grow, leading him to consider further investment in a ChipsAway CarCare Centre as his next move.
'I call it the 'Ripples On The Pond Effect',' Andy confides. 'You do a job for one person on a street, and they spread the word to friends and neighbours. I just get busier and busier, and my profits keep going up!'
His success is a result of investment in long working days and a six day week during the early months, but Andy insists he has always been happy to put in the hours. 'I have a 'work hard, play hard' philosophy,' he says. '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 confirms that within a couple of months of launching his ChipsAway franchise he was earning the same level of income he had as a soldier. Today he's making substantially more than that and reckons he's beginning to make 'serious' money.
'I really enjoyed being a soldier,' he concludes, 'but I have no regrets whatsoever - now I'm my own boss and my business is going great. I can afford the good things in life and I've got big plans for the future. All thanks to ChipsAway!'
Reported by Megan Dunmore