Ex-Army captain says franchising is perfect for Forces veterans

Former Infantry Captain, Rob Douthwaite explored the franchise route before setting his sights on Granite Transformations and leading his territories to great success.

Service personnel leaving the Armed Forces in their mid-to-late 40s, after a full term of engagement, often seek a fresh career challenge, rather than settle for a mundane 9 to 5 job.

Ex-Army Captain, Rob Douthwaite, formerly of The Duke of Wellington's infantry regiment, took the franchise route and set up a successful Granite Transformations showroom on the south coast, marketing a quality range of granite, quartz and recycled glass surfaces for kitchen worktops and bathroom interiors. Granite Transformations' parent company and franchisor, Rocksolid Granit Europe (RSG) is currently recruiting new franchise owners and Rob considers that service leavers are well equipped for the role.

Transferable skills
"Military people have massively transferrable skill sets in areas like leadership, project management, administration, training and logistics. They are used to instant problem solving and dealing with the unexpected, which are invaluable capabilities in business," says Rob. "In areas like marketing and sales, where we need support, RSG has all the necessary expertise and makes the right tools available to us. Military people will be familiar with the concept of mission-oriented commands, a decentralised leadership principle in which people at all levels of command share the burden of mission accomplishment," he continues. "Well, a franchise network is rather like that, with the franchisor, franchise advisory council, technical support team, individual franchise owners, their agencies and staff, all working toward a common goal."

Rob was more or less born and bred into military life, growing up near Catterick and being sponsored through sixth form and university by the Army, before attending Sandhurst and joining The Duke of Wellington's Regiment. After a couple of stints in Northern Ireland, he served on NATO's Northern Flank, close to the Arctic Circle, then became an instructor with the Army Training Regiment near Edinburgh, latterly transferring to Sandhurst. On leaving the service, he was recruited by the then new online betting exchange, Betfair as Head of Market Operations.

Unique proposition
What makes the Granite Transformations' proposition unique is an exclusive production process, which blends high tech polymers with Italian granite, quartzite or recycled tempered glass, to produce tough, diamond-polished materials that are lighter and thinner than anything else on the market. It means that these surfaces can be fitted on top of existing worktops, eliminating costly demolition and reducing installation times, or used to vertically clad bath surrounds, showers and wet rooms. The fact that the material is offered in four different finishes and almost 70 different colours adds to the décor possibilities.

Rob is no interior design 'luvvie', but he and Georgina have learnt the kitchens and bathrooms business thoroughly and built up a thriving business serving two franchise territories covering the Southampton and Bournemouth areas, which recently gained an award for achieving sales 150 per cent above target.

A product that 'sells itself'
Apart from a product offering that most Granite Transformations franchise owners insist "sells itself", RSG offers a level of marketing support that gained top honours in the latest UK Franchise Marketing Awards. In addition to showroom signing, branded workwear and below-the-line material like brochures, sales presenters, display panels, direct marketing and a tailored local website, RSG maintains an active programme of press advertising, TV and radio campaigns and PR support, all aimed at building brand recognition and generating new business enquiries.

Reported by Fraser McKay