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Market Focus

Together they have built their business from an initial ‘man-and-a-van’ operation providing mobile automotive repairs and minor paintwork damage, into a substantial management franchise, encompassing five territories, two fully equipped mobile workshops, a ChipsAway CarCare Centre and a team of six employees.

Why did you choose franchising and what appealed to you about ChipsAway? My partner Anatol and I were looking for the right business opportunity in our area. We’d never operated a business before, so we decided to research the franchise model. We wanted to minimise the potential risks of setting up on our own while gaining the advantage of an established business, a recognised brand and an experienced management team to provide advice and support. We looked at a number of alternatives, but we were particularly drawn to ChipsAway because of its family atmosphere. The management team were highly professional, but also warm and welcoming, happy to answer any of our questions and we felt that they would look after us well. We were right. They provided strong support for our launch eight years ago in 2004 and they have continued to be right behind us ever since.

Why did the automotive industry appeal, and have you had any previous experience working in this field before? I had no real previous experience of the automotive industry before joining ChipsAway. I’m actually a trained graphic designer. Having said that, I used to enjoy creating designs and customising motorbikes for friends, so I invested in a couple of courses on air-brushing and use of spray guns so that I could do more. When I came across the ChipsAway franchise, the idea of painting cars for a living simply appealed!

Have you found it challenging being a woman in what is generally a male- dominated sector?

Oddly enough, I’ve found being a woman in this sector a huge advantage. It really opens doors – female customers often feel more comfortable dealing with a woman. And as for the men, there’s no ego contest going on – sometimes there’s a novelty factor, but once people realise that I really know what I’m doing, then it’s just accepted that I’m like any other professional. It’s a question of

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building relationships and trust – sometimes women are particularly good at that – my customers certainly appreciate me and they keep coming back.

Did your franchisor offer support in the initial stages of the business? ChipsAway has offered us lots of support. There’s a wealth of knowledge and experience that we were able to tap into in the initial stages, but they also provided valuable advice and encouragement every step of the way as we grew and developed the business. We’ve had great support from the franchise network too. Everyone at ChipsAway wants you to succeed – after all, it’s their reputation at stake too.

Any regrets?

I have absolutely no regrets about choosing ChipsAway or about going into business for ourselves. I do sometimes miss the creative, arty side of things and I’d like to think that in due course I could do some more customisation work, but that opportunity is not going to go away. For the time being I don’t have the time to think about that too much, I’m kept busy enough providing paintwork repairs!

What advice would you give to other women considering buying a franchise in the automotive sector? My advice for women considering a ChipsAway franchise would be to go for it! Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s a male- dominated sector; it’s truly an advantage to be female. To everyone, men and women alike, I’d say if you know the industry and operate ethically with integrity – it’s a great market to be in, with terrific potential to build a successful, sustainable business.

Car Medic

originally trained as a mechanic but subsequently left the motor trade to work in senior management within the transport sector. It was the long hours and lack of time spent with his family, which led him to consider opening a franchise and since then he has never looked back.

What appealed to you about Car Medic and how did you find out about the franchise? I’d started off as a mechanic and had experience working in the motor industry, but I left to take on a senior management role in the transport sector. However, I wanted to get back into the motor industry, so naturally I was looking at franchises in this field. I visited a franchise show in Birmingham and was introduced to Car Medic there. The price appealed to me and I liked the fact that this didn’t change from what I was originally quoted – with Car Medic they were honest from the start.

What challenges did you face in the early days of opening the business? It was very easy to set up as I received all the help and support I needed from Car Medic. I didn’t particularly need the training because obviously I already had experience working with motors. Once we were up and running the first year was pretty tough, it involved a lot of legwork. To market the business I posted leaflets through people’s doors and on windscreens, I also advertised in the local papers. Slowly work started to build up and I began to get repeat custom and the business grew, largely through word of mouth.

What do you typically do on a day-to-day basis? I operate as a sole trader from a van and I do cosmetic repairs to vehicles, including alloy wheels, repairing windscreens, cleaning interiors, etc.

Jason Hoiser, 43, has been a franchisee with SMART repair franchise Car Medic for the last seven years. He

What are the benefits of running a franchise? There are plenty. I love the flexibility, and the fact that I have a good work/ life balance. In my old job I was working long hours, six days a week and I hardly ever got to spend any time with my family. Now I’m my own boss I can take time off when I need to.

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