What is the secret to owning a £1 million business? For David Spurrier, who last year posted a seven-figure turnover and this year expects to do the same, the secret is simply the application of a proven franchise formula. 'When I met the Drain Doctor management I felt I could trust the people and I was right,' says David. 'Drain Doctor has met their part of the bargain and done everything they said they would do. All I had to do was put the work in and build the business.'
As a former policeman of 14 years, ownership of a thriving franchised business has transformed David's life. 'I'm able to have all the things I want - nice cars, nice clothes, great holidays and we're currently looking to buy a property overseas,' he says.
Although he enjoyed public service, David was finding life on a £22,000 salary limited and felt he could do better. 'It wasn't just the money,' he adds. 'It was the doing the same thing every day. I began to feel that the police job wasn't going to give me what I was looking for - in fact I didn't know what I was looking for, but felt I could do better.'
David was attracted to the idea of investing in a franchise because of the brand recognition, support and training provided, and believes it the 'safer option' to going into business on your own. 'I wanted to carry on working with the public and was also looking for an industry which is recession proof,' he explains. 'Drain Doctor came up in my search and after meeting the head office team I liked what I saw. It felt right. I had some money from my savings and for the rest I went to HSBC. They were aware of Drain Doctor and the bank manager was very cooperative - in fact the loan was agreed on the phone!'
David launched his business in the Cambridge territory in September 2003 and from the word 'go' was fully focused on managing his business. 'You can't build a business in a van,' he asserts. 'You can't see where you're going. I wasn't hands-on at all. From day one I started with an employee manning the van and after three months I was ready to invest in a second employee and van.'
David's business achieved sales of £147,000 in its first seven months, then in its first full financial year posted a turnover of £441,000, by which time a third van was on the road and David was ready to expand his franchise territory. 'I'd had my eye on the neighbouring Colchester & Ipswich territory from the start,' he reveals. 'However, the business wasn't handed to me on a plate, a lot of work was done to prove myself capable of managing a sizeable business first. I signed up for the second territory in 2005 and then the business really started to take off. In that financial year the business earned in excess of £650,000 and the following year it went over £1 million.'
Last year David extended his franchise territory again, this time incorporating the Southend area and he now feels he is at the start of a period of sustained growth. With ten vans on the road and two more soon to be added, he is one of a group of Drain Doctor franchise owners who are trialling bolt-on services to increase income flow through road works and excavations plus treatment plant and septic tank installations.
'When I was in my class of new franchisees taking Drain Doctor's initial training there was a video made of us saying what we wanted to achieve,' he reflects. 'I said I wanted to be the largest plumbing and drainage firm in East Anglia and expand into other areas. On a personal level I wanted to get to the stage where I could be taking home over £50,000 a year. I've surpassed that and now I'm very comfortable, although I don't like the way that sounds! I don't like sitting back and I now have an idea in my head of taking my business to £2.5 million. I believe that is definitely achievable.'
Interview by Stuart Anderson