"Ripples gives the support and buying power while allowing us to remain independent."

Martin and Lisa Hammond, owners of bathroom retailer Ripples' Solihull franchise, have been shortlisted for the national kbbreview Industry Awards 2010 in Birmingham.

The showroom, based in Solihull, has reached the finals for the Master Retailer Award for the third year running and this year has also been short-listed for Best Showroom Award.

In the six years Martin and Lisa have owned Ripples' Solihull franchise, they have transformed the showroom into not only a thriving business but have also become part of their community.

The couple were attracted to the Solihull franchise because Lisa had enjoyed working at another Ripples showroom and chartered accountant Martin was already based in the Midlands and had always wanted to work for himself.

"We chose Ripples because the franchise had a tried and tested system of procedures and processes and it provides us with the support and buying power of a larger group while allowing us to remain independent," explains Martin, "It really is the best of both worlds."

Martin handles the office and administration side of the business while Lisa does the front of house and design work. The couple also employ a bookkeeper and designer so that there are always two people in the showroom.

"We believe in great customer service and we take pride in and put tremendous effort into everything we do," he says.

To that end, the Solihull franchise always uses local teams of installers, who have worked exclusively for Ripples since the company started and, therefore, guarantee customers quality workmanship with the reassurance of a nationally renowned brand name.

Martin says: "As all our team live in the area, over the years we have become part of the community. We often bump into customers - who feel more like friends - and always offer support with the town's Christmas lights, the Rotary Club and other organisations."

"Being you own boss may not be for everyone, but Lisa and I have found we are good at and it's very rewarding to be successful through our own efforts," added Martin.

Reported by Fraser Mckay

Initial Investment Requirement

Requires a franchise fee of £40,000 + VAT

The kbbreview Industry Awards, now in their 16th year, are organised by trade magazine kbbreview to recognise individual achievements from across the UK's kitchen and bathroom industry