A day in the life of Dream Doors franchise owner Darren Senior

Helping customers save thousands of pounds on the cost of a new kitchen – and keeping stress and mess to a minimum while the work is undertaken – is what make Dream Doors one of the UK’s largest and most successful kitchen facelift retailers. As a franchised business with more than 30 showrooms across the country, Dream Doors has been transforming the homes of the nation for 12 years. Based in Exeter, ex-Retail Manager and seasoned sales professional, Darren Senior, owns Dream Doors’ most southerly branch.

I generally wake up at 6am but the store doesn’t open until 10am. Sometimes I attend early morning appointments with customers who have visited the showroom or phoned to express an interest in a new kitchen or makeover. We then book a visit to their home and take various samples, measure up the kitchen and discuss the options available.

While the fitting is done on a subcontracting basis, I have one full-time employee, Adam, to help with the installations when needed and look after the showroom when I’m visiting customers.

The store opens and every day is different. Because I manage the business largely by myself, I handle a variety of different aspects. I’d say my time is split roughly 50-50 between working in the store and being out and about, which usually means attending a sales appointment or installation. At the moment I’m leading the sales function myself but when I have more employees, my focal point will be to manage a sales team.

I don’t really have a set time for lunch but I always eat something because my wife kindly packs my sandwiches in the morning, so it would be rude not to! However, as an entrepreneur, you always have your mind focused on the business – even when you’re eating.

Generating leads is a critical part of this business and is something we focus on throughout the working day. You must get the advertising and marketing right. Other crucial tasks include presenting the product correctly and competently selling it to customers. It’s important to give the customer space to make a decision – stand back and let them fall in love with the product. If the product is excellent – and all Dream Doors products are – you simply end up becoming a facilitator to the sale.

I try to manage my time effectively and allow time for accounting and VAT returns, usually in the afternoon. But if I’ve got the opportunity for a sales appointment I’ll do that instead – the accounts can always wait. I also speak to the Dream Doors team every other day. As a national company we have ‘best-practice days’, where we discuss our news and problems and share ideas. Recently we had an area marketing meeting at which we examined advertising strategies. Our Regional Manager also visits the shop on a regular basis and is always on hand to answer queries.

Unless there are any late afternoon or evening appointments, I will finish work and head home. If I do have an evening appointment booked in, I can work any time up to 9pm, but the good news is, if I’m in a customer’s house at that time it’s likely to result in a deal. One evening I didn’t finish work until 10pm. I was dealing with a client and left with a £5,000 deposit to fit a new kitchen, so I was absolutely delighted to have stayed so late!

When I get home I spend time with my beautiful wife and two lovely children. I must confess, I still think about how to improve the business and increase its turnover during my free time. What’s great about Dream Doors is that it’s a solid business, not a fad. The concept works – and will continue to work in 10 or 20 years time. Owning a business is demanding and the long commute can cut into my evening, but ultimately there isn’t a single thing I dislike about my work.