Husband and wife team, Vance and Sue Parsons, were no strangers to the franchise formula when they bought their latest business venture in September 2013.
Vance had previously worked in franchising for a debt management company and was later employed by one franchisor to help sell their territories. Commenting on his franchise experience, Vance says: “I knew how the franchise model worked and its benefits. The franchisor and network support available is an invaluable asset when setting up your own business. So, when I decided to go back to working for myself, researching credible franchise options which were right for me and my family was the only way forward.”
Proven business modelThe couple’s research led them to Driver Hire, a B2B management franchise with more than 30 years’ trading history. Franchise owners running a Driver Hire office are allocated their own postcode-defined territory, and help local businesses that have a fleet of vehicles – such as local authorities, haulage firms, courier companies and builders’ merchants – find temporary and permanent drivers and other logistics staff.
“For us it was an easy decision when Driver Hire’s Hereford and Worcester territory went on the market,” comments Vance. “Driver Hire is evidently a proven business model and speaking to existing franchise owners validated the success stories we’d read and heard about.”
On buying the territory they were faced with the need to rebuild a customer base of clients and recruit skilled drivers looking for work. Whilst Vance and Sue had no previous experience of recruitment or the transport and logistics sector, they were passionate about building their own business and providing a high level of customer service. “It was a steep learning curve at times and we may have even questioned our own sanity occasionally, but you get that with any new business venture in the early days!” says Sue. “We had quite a lot to learn but you soon get to grips with it all.”
Training and supportDriver Hire franchise owners first attend an initial two-week foundation training programme and then join a ‘New Franchisee Support Programme’. This usually lasts six months and provides new franchise owners like Vance and Sue with enhanced support from their Area Development Manager (ADM) and other franchise owner support teams to focus on specific areas where extra help is required. This might cover marketing, national accounts, compliance, finance or IT.
Vance adds: “The Franchisee Support Programme really helped us on our way once we opened for business. Ian, our ADM, was very encouraging and talked us through a few initiatives that we could use to attract more customers and candidates: ideas that were working well for neighbouring Driver Hire offices. It’s really why you buy into a franchise - it’s the whole set up and ability to access the knowledge and expertise of those who have been in your position and already learnt the best way to manage the business.”
Win-win situationWhilst Vance and Sue have found running their Driver Hire franchise all-consuming at times – as you’d expect with any new business – they’ve certainly had a fantastic first year. Working to their business plan, they have now taken on board an apprentice. As he learns the ropes, apprentice Rhys also provides extra support in the office, which enables Vance to spend more time devising and implementing ways to help grow the business further.
This has proven prolific, as they have surpassed initial turnover predictions for their first full financial year and are well on their way to exceeding the £650,000 mark, almost double the UK franchise industry turnover average of £356,000.
To top this business achievement, their hard work was recognised externally, and in November 2014, Vance and Sue won the national Startups Awards annual ‘Franchisee of the Year’ award for their endeavours. No surprise that Driver Hire has also recognised the dynamic duo as its 2014 ‘New Start of the Year’.
It’s a cliché, but the more you put into this business the more you get out” concludes Vance. “We’re in this for at least the next 10 years and are throwing everything into it to maximise our investment. Beating expectations in our first full year and gaining recognition for our achievements has certainly made all the hard work worthwhile and proved we made the right decision in choosing Driver Hire.”