Going Back To Nature

The confinement and claustrophobia of an office environment is too much for some, and unpleasant for many. It is often with envy then that scores of office drones stare out of the window at those fortunate enough to earn a living staying active in pure fresh air. Gareth Samuel looks at why franchises that demand investors get back to nature working outdoors are perfect career choices for many.

Franchising offers hundreds of opportunities to work outdoors. Whether it is through commercial grass cutting, drainage solutions, vehicle bodywork repair or property maintenance – there is an opportunity available for anyone looking for something different. It is a common misconception that working outdoors or with your hands can mean an inevitable pay cut – with many UK franchise opportunities, that require owners to work outdoors, the return on investment is extremely impressive.

Mobile bodywork repair franchise, ChipsAway is well respected in the industry as a solid franchise operation with many years of excellent results. One franchise owner, Andy Darby, left his career in the Armed Forces to pursue a new career working outdoors providing vehicle bodywork solutions to commercial customers. His return on investment has been extremely quick and he now makes more money than he ever did as a soldier. “‘I did put a deposit on a Ferrari, but the deal fell through so I decided to buy the Z4 and invest in expanding my business instead of blowing everything on the car,” he told The Franchise Magazine. “I’ve also recently moved house, but give me a year or two and I’ll be shopping again...definitely!” For Andy, choosing to run his own ChipsAway business had been a decision that has paid off dividends, as he has a good work life balance and the disposable income to achieve the things in life he wants to do.

It is a similar story for Drain Doctor franchise owners, a business that specialises in providing drainage solutions to domestic and commercial customers in need of assistance. Earlier this year father and son duo, James and James Anderson joined the business after seeing the potential for earnings, rapid expansion and impressive business model. “The key to success will be to give businesses and householders across Ayrshire the same ‘dazzling’ level of service, which Drain Doctor provides across the rest of the UK., explains James junior. “We give fixed-price, no obligation quotes, a complete guarantee on all our work, and a full 24 hour, seven days per week service with no call out charges – so people pay the same price for work at any time of day or night. What’s more, we turn up at the agreed time.” As James outlines, businesses that allow owners to work outdoors often benefit from the franchising system massively.

Customers respond to familiarity and professionalism – the type of which franchising provides in abundance – and this has proved a successful formula for many. Trugreen is one of Britain’s leading grass cutting and lawn maintenance opportunities. Having lead the way for many years in the US providing lawncare specialist services to customers, the franchise has become a success this side of the Atlantic too. Franchise owner for the brand in Arden, Birmingham, Richard Hodson, loves his current role and the freedom and flexibility it affords. He says: “A typical early spring day will consist of seven to 10 appointments, where I will put down a moss control or spring fertiliser and spray a weed control according to what type of weeds are present. The phone is busy in the spring with new enquiries – the lifeblood of any business. I enjoy all of this – I am a Jack-of-all-trades by nature and I love being involved in every aspect of the business.” As the weather warms up and cold remnants of winter become nothing but memories, it is an ideal time to invest in a business such as Trugreen with seasonal trade.

One of the most genuinely exciting franchises on the market is in its infancy as a franchise operation, but holds nationwide renown as a business. Go Ape, the treetop adventure business offers customers a high-wire thrill like no other as they are entertained through an aerial obstacle course. In 2009 the business, which currently has 29 sites across the UK, set up the first franchised business in Woburn, Bedfordshire. Since then, this particular branch has gone from strength to strength.

The flexibility that business owners usually receive with an outdoor franchise is often unparalleled. There is usually no nine-to-five schedule, but jobs must be fitted in around the customers availability and requests. Working outdoors franchises also allow franchise owners to feel the full benefit of green-technology solutions, which is why many outdoor franchises implement environmental policies. Windscreen repair franchise, Screen Rescue, is comitted to ensuring the service it provides is as helpful to the environment as possible. Operations Director, Amanda Hilario, says: “In an age where we can all do something positive about the environmental footprint we leave, Screen Rescue’s priority is to encourage our prospective clients to do the same. Remarkably, we are the only franchise to endorse and uphold a zero replacement policy – even rejecting outside collaboration with replacement companies, and we will continue to do so for the benefit of a better environment.”

As the great British summertime approaches, it is a good time to evaluate your career and decide whether your current role is one that you are both happy with and challenged by. It may be that, particularly in the case of opportunities like Trugreen, Lawnscience and GreenThumb, greener grass is more than a metaphor.