Excellent reputation &'brand awareness

Sliding Sash Solutions is seeking to maintain first class support while growing at a controlled rate. FDS South East Regional Director Malcolm Porter interviews MD Dermot Cooke

Malcolm Porter:'How would you describe the Sliding Sash Solutions franchise opportunity?
Dermot Cooke: At Sliding Sash Solutions we offer a specialist renovation and repair service for traditional sliding sash windows. There are an estimated 35 million sash windows in the UK. Recently, more and more people are recognising the value of period features such as traditional windows, however, these windows are often in poor condition after many years of use.
We have a great network of franchisees providing sash window renovation services to customers throughout their territories. A Sliding Sash Solutions franchise offers excellent earnings potential and the opportunity for franchisees to build their business up to become a multi van operation.

MP:'How long has Sliding Sash Solutions been trading?
DC:'Sliding Sash Solutions was established in 2000. Our first franchisees came on board in Brighton in 2004. Our latest franchisee commenced trading in Twickenham early in 2008 and we now have five franchisees operating successfully across the south of England.

MP:'Describe your target market and the potential for you business across the UK?
DC:'Our biggest market is Victorian homes. Between 1837 and 1902 six million homes were built across the UK. Nearly all these houses had sliding sash windows, most of which are still present today. The potential market value is in excess of £13 billion. This does not include properties built between 1670 and 1836, many of which also have sliding sash windows. Nor does it include casement windows and doors, which we can also provide an excellent service for.

In addition, our franchisees can reinstate sash windows to properties where the original windows have been removed. Many Victorian sliding sash windows within the UK have been replaced with inappropriate PVCU or aluminium windows. We can manufacture and install replica double glazed timber sliding sash windows to conform to current building regulations.

MP:'Has the current economic uncertainty affected business?
DC:'It has not had a noticeable affect on our business. Year on year we receive more and more recommendations from previous customers and we have experienced a large increase in enquiries over the last 12 months. This may be because less people are looking to move house and instead spending on their existing home, or because of the excellent reputation and brand awareness we are building.

MP:'What makes Sliding Sash Solutions unique?
DC:'Our procedure for overhauling sash windows, which includes the installation of our unique brush pile system, is a simple yet clever means of eliminating all the problems usually associated with this style of window. We believe in offering skilled craftsmanship and superior customer service.

MP:'What support do you provide franchisees?
DC:'Our franchisees receive a comprehensive training course and Operations and Technical Manuals to equip them with all the knowledge and skills they will need to run their own Sliding Sash Solutions franchise. The head office team are always on hand with ongoing support and advice for our franchisees on every aspect of running their business.

MP:'What are the most important characteristics you look for in potential franchisees?
DC:'We are looking for potential franchisees who are passionate about running their own business and who have the personality and skills to deliver an outstanding service to customers. We are looking for people who are ambitious and forward thinking and who have excellent communication skills. Carpentry, joinery or construction experience is not essential as we have a comprehensive training programme, however, hands on practical skills are advantageous.

MP:'What are Sliding Sash Solutions goals for 2009?
DC:'Finding the right people to grow the business is more important to us than rapid growth and in the next 12 months we are looking to add another four franchisees to our existing network. By growing at a controlled rate we are able to offer our franchisees first class support and maintain our high standards of customer care.