A franchise in Ten Million

Embarking on a franchise development programme is a huge commitment of time and emotional energy for everyone involved. Franchise Consultant Tony Urwin reveals how this results in building long-lasting relationships with his clients

As a franchise system grows and matures there is always an element of organic development and amendments to the system are often required due to changes in legislation. Being available to offer advice and guidance when changes need to be implemented is part of the continued support that I offer my franchisors.

As a franchise consultant I am lucky enough to work with some very talented and innovative business owners and management teams. I am always delighted to receive good news from franchisors whose businesses are doing well or even exceeding their expectations. I recently received news from Keith Roberts, Managing Director of All Trades Network (a franchise opportunity that manages building repairs on behalf of the insurance industry), that they are expecting the group to achieve a turnover of £10 million this year, just two years after launching the franchise. I caught up with Keith and his business partner Cliff Whitehead to find out how they have achieved such phenomenal growth.

Tony Urwin: Keith, we started work together on the All Trades Network franchise system back in 2005 and you launched the franchise in the April/May 2005 edition of The Franchise Magazine. You recruited your first three franchisees from that campaign - how many do you have now? Keith Roberts: Our network has grown to 26 franchisees, all of whom have contributed greatly to this year's record turnover figure.

TU: Your recruitment has been quick. What was your strategy and how has this growth affected your business and the operation at head office?

KR: There has been great interest from potential franchisees, which has allowed us to be very selective and only award franchises to the right people. That's basically the crux of our recruitment strategy. This is a management franchise, so it's vital that our franchisees have the relevant experience.

While several of our franchisees have come from the building trade, anyone with a general management background could be suited to the business. We're finding that there are a lot of applicants from middle management positions who are keen to start their own businesses, which I suppose is a general reflection on the current jobs market.

Cliff Whitehead: Our head office operation has had to change significantly as our network has grown. We provide a comprehensive package of support to our franchisees, which includes claims processing, customer service monitoring, full invoicing, credit control and payment collection. As a result, our head office team has increased from two people to 16. We've also brought in an experienced Business Development Manager to work with new franchisees in putting their business and financial planning packages together.

Providing solid franchisee support is key to our business. It's a big commitment and something we take very seriously because it allows our franchisees to concentrate on building their businesses, rather than being bogged down in admin. We wouldn't have achieved such impressive group turnover figures without it.

KR: Obviously, as the business has developed, there have been implications to the franchise system and we've had to run things past you a couple of times. Having access to unbiased, sound advice has been invaluable and I'm sure we'll continue to call on your expertise as we move All Trades forward.

TU: Your network turnover figures are testament to your success as franchisors. Is there any advice you would offer to business owners who are embarking on the franchising route?

KR: Always seek the best professional services that are available to you. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that not using them would be a cost saving, as the experience of a British Franchise Association (bfa) affiliated consultant will be invaluable. We soon discovered that your services included much more than a manual and franchise marketing advice. It's also vital that you build your franchise on solid foundations by having quality legal documents drawn up by a bfa affiliated lawyer.

I've been developing franchise systems in the North West since 1999 and it is great to catch up with a successful franchisor, especially when they have reached a milestone to be proud of. I wish Keith, Cliff and everyone at All Trades the best of luck and look forward to seeing what they can achieve in another two years of ethical franchising.