Secure your financial future with a franchise

Oven Wizards’ Paul Gilbert is one of many business people who have secured a better financial future by investing in a franchise business. Here, he tells The Franchise Magazine how.

The Franchise Magazine: What did you do before deciding to invest in a franchise business, and why did you decide that your previous career was no longer working for you?

Paul Gilbert: Before deciding to invest in a franchise business, I worked in sales for the best part of 25 years, selling mainly business information and telephone equipment. It was the death of my Dad in early 2013 that I guess made me take a step back and re-evaluate my life. I decided that I wanted to invest in a business which I could build at my own pace and which over the coming years would give me several options when I get to retirement age. I also wanted to improve my work/life balance giving me more time with my family and to pursue the sports I enjoy.

TFM: What do you see as the major advantages of investing in a franchise business over starting your own from scratch?

PG: I believe that one of the greatest benefits of a franchise is the reduction in risk of business failure, as there is a proven business concept and trading experience that other franchise owners have been following and enhancing; ensuring that the risks to the new franchise owner are minimised.

TFM: When and why did you choose your franchise? What did it offer over rival opportunities?

PG: To begin with, my initial thought was to look for a franchise that was to do with cars, as nearly everybody has one, and at some time, may need bodywork or paint repairs. However, after researching the various options available and assessing my local market place, I decided against it, so it was back to the drawing board. Completely by chance, I came across oven cleaning; again nearly everybody has one and after doing some research a common thread came to light, nearly everybody I spoke to hated cleaning their oven, and would willingly pay to have it cleaned. ‘Result’. Next step was to find an oven cleaning franchise. After looking through various websites I drew up a shortlist and arranged meetings with the companies.

Why Oven Wizards? Well, I felt comfortable and knew I could work with the directors of the company, plus the company met my expectations/requirements with regard to training and support.

TFM: Where did you hear about the opportunity?

PG: Via the internet. I spent a long time looking at various oven cleaning companies’ websites requesting information and arranging initial meetings.

TFM: What support and training were you given in launching your business?

PG: When I joined Oven Wizards, the directors arranged a two-day business builder session, covering all aspects of setting up and running your own successful business. Over the past 18 months, I have followed and implemented this plan of action. Could I do more? Yes, of course, and will need to in order to grow my business and achieve my goals. My training was hands-on, as you would expect; one of the reasons that I choose Oven Wizards was that the training was all field-based, working supervised with another experienced franchise owner on real life scenarios, rather than an in-house facility. My training was very comprehensive and well structured.

I spent two weeks with two franchise owners getting to understand how the cleaning procedures work but it didn’t end there as there was a comprehensive Operations and Training Manual for any of those points that you may have forgotten, plus we all have access to a Franchisee Members Forum where we can share ideas and best practices, plus get answers to any issues that you may have on running your business from other franchise owners who have more experience. As you are part of a growing network of successful oven cleaners, they are all willing to take a call and give advice, especially if you experience any issues when you are on a customer’s site.

TFM: Do you still have good access to support and advice now that you are established?

PG: Yes, the directors are only a phone call away; in the first few months they contacted me on a weekly basis to ensure that my business was on track. Now, further down the line, they regularly contact me, always offering support and advice to help take my business to the next level. As a company, there are quarterly Regional Meetings, which are again great opportunities to hear what is working well for other franchise owners, plus we have an Annual Conference where new ideas and procedures are introduced.

TFM: To what extent have your earnings improved since becoming a franchise owner?

PG: I am really pleased that my earnings are continuing to grow and are now more than what I was earning when I was in sales; but what has improved is the work/life balance. If I want to go on and earn more, the opportunity, is there to do so.

TFM: What aspect of running your business do you find the most rewarding?

PG: The customer ‘wow’ factor when they see their newly cleaned sparkly oven it makes every job worthwhile and ensures total job satisfaction. Regularly, customers comment that their oven looks like new and that the family will be eating out from now on as they do not want to get it dirty again!

TFM: Do you feel that your financial future is secure in your current line of work, and if so, why?

PG: Well I certainly think so; I have been trading now for just over 18 months and my turnover and profit continues to grow month-on-month. I now benefit from regular repeat business and get a lot of new business from recommendations from satisfied existing customers.

TFM: Do you feel that your business is robust in its potential to survive any future changes in the market and recessions?

PG: Yes, financially the business is well set up now with no borrowings or overdrafts and is cash positive. By keeping it lean, it can hopefully withstand any market changes

TFM: Is there opportunity to expand/upscale the business should you have ambitions to do so in future?

PG: Very much so, When I purchased my franchise, I deliberately bought a larger than normal territory with a view to expand and put additional vans on the road. Eighteen months down the road and with the help and guidance from the Directors, I am now in the process of recruiting another ‘Wizard’ to work alongside me.

TFM: Would you recommend your franchise to others who wish to raise their income and gain a more secure financial future? And is there anything they should take into account before they do in terms of challenges?

PG: Without a doubt, it is certainly the best move I have ever made and I wish I had done it years ago. To anybody thinking of buying a franchise, I would recommend that you do your research thoroughly. Draw up a shortlist of three companies from the ones you have researched. Go and meet the directors of these companies, understand their business plans and long term goals: do they meet with your expectations? plus more importantly, could you see yourself working with them? Talk to their franchise owners and not just the ones they give you to call. Ask to spend a day with a franchise owner, make sure that you can do the job physically and that you can see yourself being happy doing this for the foreseeable future.