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Market Focus

What advice would you give to others considering a franchise in the automotive sector? Do your research. Make sure you carefully consider all of the franchises ` that are on offer and don’t jump into anything. Remember it may be hard work but it’s worth it.


manager at the Coop Superstore and regional business manager of the Scottish Midland Co-op Society. But I felt that it was time for a change and right from the start Autosmart seemed a safe choice, which is important when you have a family to think of.

Did you receive much training and support? From day one, the training and support was fantastic – you can see why the bfa named Autosmart as Franchisor of the Year in 2008 and then awarded them with a prize for Best Franchisee Support in 2011. Even franchisees with no previous sales experience learn how to succeed, thanks to on-going field training. I trebled my sales in less than two years and the business is still growing.

bfa Franchisee of the Year 2010, Frank Sutherland, 52, decided to set his up his Autosmart franchise after being made redundant. He says he is proof that redundancy can lead to prospering in a career you might never before have considered.

What advice would you give to other people who have been redundant and are considering buying a franchise? If you’ve been made redundant or are looking for a new challenge, then my advice would be don’t let the current market conditions put you off. I know that this is one business that you can start anytime and make a success of it, providing you are willing to work hard. And, if you have an interest in cars or bikes then this franchise is made for you, as you’re meeting people from all areas of the automotive trade every day.


“If you have an interest in cars or bikes then this is made for you, as you’re meeting people from all areas of the automotive trade every day”

What led you to becoming an Autosmart franchisee? When I was made redundant in 2006, I knew that it was time to start my own business. I looked at a number of different opportunities before I decided to buy my Autosmart franchise. It’s a tried-and- tested formula, with over 30 years of experience. I had no previous experience working in the motor industry – I’d spent several years working as a general

three vans and employ four people. Chris lives in Redcar with his girlfriend Dani and four-year-old son Kayden.

Why did you decide to go into franchising?

My father and I used to dream about running our own business together but unfortunately we never got round to it and my father passed away some years ago. Whilst at the bank a good colleague of mine was in charge of advising businesses and he recommended franchising to me. He said that franchising is a tried-and- tested model and that I’d have a much greater chance of success.

What appealed to you about working in SMART repairs?

My big passion is cars and until recently I kept nine of my own! I immediately started looking for a car-related franchise and a friend suggested I look at SMART repairs. It was important to me to find a franchise that had a family feel to it. I went to see a variety of franchises from those involved in distributing tools to some other SMART repair ones, but didn’t feel that they fitted with my down-to-earth personality. My father died of cancer and I read that Terry Mullen and Mark Llewellyn from Revive! had done a skydive for a cancer charity.


know it sounds silly but that just resonated with me so I got in touch and made an appointment to meet with them. For me it’s as much about the team of people you’re working with as it is about the set- up and with Revive! you get it all. I went for an interview and it just felt right.

Do you enjoy what you do? I love it. It’s my business so I get to see my own ideas come to life. I enjoy being out on the road and far from being lonely I talk to people all day. Customers often like to watch and chat while I work. I also get to be flexible for the family and I can pick my son up from school. The only downside is that I seem to eat more when I’m in the van driving!

Chris Varney, 31, set up his Revive! Middlesbrough franchise, specialising in SMART repairs, in August 2008, after six years working in the banking sector. Since starting his business Chris has quickly expanded to run

What are your plans for the future? I’d like to have a monopoly over my area and that would take five vans. I don’t want to sell the business, but I would like to build it up to the point where I can take a step back and employ someone to manage it for me. That’s my ultimate aim. n

May 2012 | | 39

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