Ed Pockney – Uxbridge Franchise
Ed joined Driver Hire in November 2014, read about his story here:
My business background is in derivatives and money-broking. Prior to buying my Driver Hire franchise I’d spent 28 years working in major financial centres around the world: London, New York and Tokyo. My final overseas posting, before returning to the UK, was in Hong Kong.
Whilst in Hong Kong, I’d already decided to be my own boss, but had no clear idea of what I wanted to do, hence my interest in franchising. Certainly a management franchise appealed. Having done my research it soon became clear that a Driver Hire franchise offered a great combination: a proven business model, an essential service, successful franchisees and – as I discovered – an open and honest approach to franchise sales.
Of course, recruitment and road transport were both new to me. Driver Hire’s initial two-week Foundation Course gave me an excellent grounding. Once my office was up and running there was back-up at every level. Whether it was invoicing and finance, IT, industry compliance or marketing support through to the simple routine of running the office, there was help and advice. Of course, success in business does come down to the determination and drive of the owner.
Whilst running a recruitment agency is relatively straightforward, running a Driver Hire franchise requires several skills. Top of the list is sales. You must be comfortable as a salesperson. This becomes easier with practice – and of course you get better with success!
As well as selling your service to potential customers, you also need to attract drivers – without them you have nothing to sell. The best way to keep drivers on your books is by keeping them busy. But I also look after them in other ways; I’ve frequently invested my money in upskilling drivers. I enjoy paying skilled workers well, while helping them develop their professional skills.
Road transport is a round-the-clock business. Missing deadlines can cost our customers dearly, so it’s essential that we’re there when they need us most. That means offering a 24/7 service. You soon learn to welcome a phone call at 4.00am; it means more business and another satisfied customer.
An additional advantage of being part of a franchise network is that you benefit from the economies of scale. A good franchisor introduces new services which can create additional income streams; they’ll develop enhanced IT systems to help your business become more efficient and provide a range of quality marketing materials. And they’ll help you understand and implement new legislation affecting your industry. In most cases, a standalone business would have neither the time nor the money to invest in this way.
A typical day as a Driver Hire franchisee is always busy, seldom predictable – and immensely rewarding! Our reputation is built on a quick response and ability to deliver the staff our clients need. This can be last minute emergency hire or planned cover for holidays or regular ongoing bookings. We also provide staff to help customers cover seasonal peaks.
Of course – as with any business start-up – there’s a risk element. However, franchising is a less risky route into self employment. The 2015 bfa NatWest Survey reported that 97% of franchised units were in profit, with 56% saying they were ‘quite’ or ‘very’ profitable. The report also confirms that commercial failure rates for franchises are very low compared to SMEs in general.
At the end of my first full year’s trading, (2015/16) I passed £1m turnover, increasing sales by 300% on the last full year under the previous franchisee. Since taking over the business we’ve moved from less than 50% of the average Driver Hire franchise turnover to more than 200% of the network average. We’re targeting three times network average in 2017.
Of course, whilst the financial side is key, I just enjoy running a Driver Hire franchise. We’ve taken people who were unemployed on to our books and found them full-time jobs. That’s an amazing feeling. I love hearing a client say to me: “He’s perfect for the job, can I keep him?”
Put all these things together and this is what, I believe, a successful franchise should offer – the opportunity to use a proven business model to create your own success story.