Thinking Big! ChipsAway franchisee Alistair has sights set on the big time

25 June 2012



A great deal can happen in a year, as ChipsAway franchisee Alistair Hoy can testify.  Ali opened a ChipsAway CarCare Centre (a fixed-base workshop) only six months after his initial business launch as a ‘man and a van’ operation, in line with his original business plan. Subsequently, he took on his first employee to help cope with escalating demand, then when he hit £10,000 per month turnover, Ali decided to take on a second employee – and all this before reaching his first year milestone!

“I had big plans for my ChipsAway business from the start,” Ali confirms. “Now there are three of us in the team, the next step is to increase turnover to £20,000 per month. It’s a challenging target, but I confidently expect to achieve a quarter of a million pound turnover business this year.” 

Ali’s previous background was in sales & marketing. He had held senior roles in companies operating in the USA and Asia and was never interested in downsizing to a small owner operator business in the long term. On the other hand, neither was he in a position to invest up to £200,000 in one of the major franchise brands. Therefore he had looked around for a franchise with the potential to grow into a sizeable business. ChipsAway emerged as the clear choice, offering a scaleable business model and a growing brand presence in the marketplace.

ChipsAway is the UK’s leading automotive paintwork repair specialist, with a nationwide network of around 350 technicians providing high quality on-the-spot repairs to minor damage such as paintwork scratches, bumper scuffs and kerbed alloy wheels. Repairs are completed within a matter of hours and at a fraction of the cost of traditional body shop repair methods. With 34 million cars on the road and over 17 million repair opportunities each year, ChipsAway estimate that they currently only deal with 3% of market demand!

Ali recognised that in order to build his ChipsAway business, he first needed to understand it inside and out. His comprehensive initial training and first months out on the road in a fully equipped mobile ChipsAway workshop not only gave him the necessary technical skills to repair minor automotive paintwork damage, but also provided an insight into customer perceptions and demands.

“Owners of fast food franchises don’t invest in order to flip burgers or cook pizzas, they invest to develop a business and make profit, but first they roll their sleeves up and learn what their employees will be required to do. I’ve taken the same approach to my ChipsAway business. As I take on more employees, I plan to do less and less painting, focusing instead on business development. Currently, I spend 40% of my time on marketing and business development, with the other 60% hands-on doing repairs. I expect that balance to change over the coming year - in order to achieve turnover of £1,000 per day, you have to be marketing your business strongly and consistently, so that has to be my priority going forward.”

With a ChipsAway CarCare Centre and two technicians, Ali can now repair many more vehicles per hour. “Now I can repair up to four cars at a time, preparing one vehicle whilst another is drying, with each member of the team assisting the other,” he explains.

Ali confirms that his decision to join ChipsAway was definitely the right move. “A successful business doesn’t just happen when you buy a franchise. You have to have passion for what you do, be prepared to work at it and believe in yourself. You also need a committed franchisor with a vision for the brand,” he says. “The ChipsAway management team is close to its franchisees and understands what we need; when you’re growing your business they will do everything they can to support you – and that makes a real difference.”

In Ali’s view, ChipsAway is really getting it right with their strong emphasis on customer marketing and continued investment in TV advertising. “Although the company has been established in the UK for almost eighteen years, it feels as though I’ve got in on something that’s just beginning,” he says. “Brand awareness is growing fast and so is market share  - it’s an exciting time to be part of the ChipsAway success story!” 

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