John and Alison Griffiths – Driver Hire Taunton
John Griffiths with his wife Alison bought a Driver Hire greenfield site in Taunton in March 2007.
Since then they’ve been steadily growing their recruitment franchise into a very successful and profitable business. Their goal is to maximise their investment when the time comes to sell up and retire. In the financial year 2016/17 the Taunton office was one of Driver Hire’s 48% of franchised offices that achieved a turnover of over £1m.
John was no stranger to the Driver Hire brand when he opened Driver Hire Taunton. He’d previously worked for the franchisor as an Area Development Manager (ADM) in the South West region, to help and support Driver Hire offices in the area. Prior to this, he’d worked as a commercial director for a manufacturing company specialising in retail equipment.
Why Driver Hire?
When asking John why he took the franchise route and why Driver Hire? He replied, “Having previously been employed by Driver Hire as an ADM, I’d seen how successful other franchisees were. I’d been in a fortunate position – when working with them – I’d be looking at their P&Ls so could clearly see the success levels.”
John continued, “Aged 47, I’d become frustrated of working for someone else. When Alison and I sat down to discuss options to run our own business, we realised the answer was in front of our face. The fact that I already knew all the systems I’d be working with, and the strength of the Driver Hire brand, meant staying with Driver Hire was the perfect choice.”
How did you raise the finance?
Bank loans are a popular option for people looking to fund a business venture, especially now that a number of high street banks have departments set up to help people specifically looking to buy a franchise. John approached his bank and was successful in his application. On this John comments, “We put a business plan together, put the house up as security and took out a 5-year loan with the bank in order to buy the business. In the space of two years, we’d paid off the loan and could concentrate on growing the business further.”
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
Training and support for new franchisees at Driver Hire has grown and developed since John joined the network in 2007. The training now consists of two weeks of classroom based learning as well as an additional 2-4 weeks shadowing an office and spending time at head office with key personnel in the business. Once you start, this is then followed by an ongoing 6-month support programme to cement your knowledge.
“Luckily I’d seen it all whilst working as an ADM for Driver Hire”, comments John. “One thing I did really value was the help of the in-house design and marketing team. It meant I was able to easily sort out signage for the office – working with a team who already knew the brand inside and out. The £1000 marketing budget was also a great boost to the business in the early stages.”
What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
Talk to anyone who works in a Driver Hire office and they’ll probably tell you that “every day is different”. For many in the business, the variety is one of the elements they love. “The days do vary quite a lot” comments John. “You might be woken up in the morning by a client ringing to say a driver hasn’t turned up and you need to sort it. This can happen once or twice a week. It’s also my choice to be the one who takes the phones, out of office hours. It means I always know what’s going on with the business.”
John goes on to say, “As joint franchisees, Alison and I are very active in the business; there is always one of us in the office. Alison tends to look after the admin side, bookkeeping and finance. I’ll concentrate on sales and marketing, cash flow and help the team out on the operations side when busy. We make sure to keep an eye on the different marketing campaigns available from the head office so we can choose those relevant to our overall strategy and plan accordingly. Besides planned sales visits we’ll also just call in to see customers, or drive around our territory to see what has changed and what new opportunities there are.”
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
There’s a lot to consider when buying your first franchise and John’s advice to those thinking of taking that step forward are:
- Make sure you’ve done your homework – due diligence is key
- Speak to other franchisees and people in the business
- Check it’s a reputable franchise – you don’t want to invest in something that turns out to be unrealistic in its promises.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life and if so how?
“Absolutely! I’ve gained all the benefits of being self-employed: the opportunity to run and grow our business, the freedom it can bring and the ability to make decisions for ourselves. It’s certainly given me things I wouldn’t have had if I’d stayed employed.” When asked if he’d do it again John adds, “Yes of course. I wouldn’t do it independently and would definitely go down the franchise route again. You’ve got the brand, the systems and the backup already in place and the partnership works – both parties striving for success.”