Local Services: Bursting with business opportunity

Local Services is transforming the tarnished trade services industry with the phenomenal success of PlumbLocal and ElecLocal. Local Group's Emma King reports

Whether you are competent at DIY and looking to develop your existing skills and build your own business, or are looking to use your business knowledge and experience to develop a brand in a regional territory, Local Services has successfully developed a franchise format which offers a route to business success.

There has never been a better time to build a reputable business in this poorly served industry. Figures published by the Institute of Plumbing state that Britain can expect to see a shortfall of 29,000 plumbers by 2007. In an industry where demand outweighs supply the so-called 'cowboy tradesmen' have flourished.

It seems that finding a reliable, qualified electrician is going to get even harder since the introduction of tough new EU regulations known as 'Part P'. Part P will inevitably mean that the demand for fully qualified electricians will surge.

Franchisees are already experiencing a huge demand for their services from the domestic market. Recent developments will see Local Services working closely with a number of leading insurers in order to revolutionise the insurance services industry. This will result in rapid growth of both the PlumbLocal and ElecLocal franchise networks in the UK and Ireland.

The Training

Our City & Guilds training programmes and accredited City & Guilds centres of excellence allow us to ensure all franchisees are fully trained and qualified.

Single territory franchisees have to complete and pass the training programmes. For those interested in the regional franchise opportunities it is possible to elect a suitable 'competent' person to undertake the training.

The PlumbLocal training programme incorporates three months of intensive training to include the City & Guilds 6129, the only recognised qualification to become a plumber in the industry. Once the business is established, onsite assessments are then completed so that NVQ level 2 qualification can be obtained.

ElecLocal franchisees also complete a three month training programme which includes the City & Guilds 2381, 2377-02, and 2391. This is followed by a period of work experience with qualified electricians. Once the work experience has been completed ElecLocal franchisees are also Part P qualified. The ongoing 24-hour dedicated technical support that Local Service provides ranges from a simple phone call to rapid onsite assistance and ensures that there is always someone on hand to give comprehensive assistance if it is required. The support service is available to all franchisees.

National Contracts

The Local Services management team has been meeting with the country's leading insurers to assist with the development and improvement of services to their clients.

PlumbLocal has recently embarked on a new business relationship with Capita Insurance Services, a company that has been ranked number one in the insurance services market for the last three consecutive years. Capita has over 41.2 per cent market share and an annual turnover in excess of £1.3 billion. PlumbLocal is set to work with Capita in order to provide solutions to a large percentage of emergency plumbing, drainage and electrical work in the UK.

The Business Management System

PlumbLocal and ElecLocal are multi-vehicle franchise opportunities with each territory capable of supporting many additional vans. Local Services has a unique business management system to assist and support franchisees in the running of the business.

The comprehensive online system includes job scheduling, an electronic diary and an accounting package to make light work of business administration. All vehicles are tracked enabling the head office to locate a client's local plumber or electrician in an emergency in around 60 seconds.

The system has been built to ensure that franchisees have complete control of their businesses and, more importantly, their employees as they begin to recruit. The business model along with our unique systems and the accountability that they offer makes gaining lucrative national maintenance contracts easy.

To become a PlumbLocal or ElecLocal franchisee an initial investment of £12,000 is required with a typical investment totalling £24,500. Finance of up to 70 per cent is available from all major high street banks (subject to status). Local Services is looking for people that recognise that qualified, reliable plumbers and electricians have an integral part to play in society. We need people that understand the importance of customer care and have the professionalism and honesty to provide all customers with a reliable local service at a sensible price.