READ: My First Year as a Drain Doctor Franchise Owner - During COVID

13 July 2021

Grab a brew and take 5 minutes to read this incredible story about a determined Yorkshireman…

Drain Doctor Bradford Franchisee Shares His First Year in Business During a Pandemic

We could explain to you what it is like to start a Drain Doctor franchise, but instead, we thought would let one of our new Franchise Owners do it instead.

Drain Doctor Bradford Franchise Owner Ben Binns took to LinkedIn recently to share his experience of starting a new business during a global pandemic. Over to you Ben…

The first year in business – By a man who knows no other world, than one impacted by COVID-19

August 2019 – Another Journey to Work

I remember drowsily trailing home from another day at work, another day in the corporate world and another sad Northern Rail journey home (that was probably delayed but I can’t remember).

As I reached my new home that my wife and I had bought just a few months before, I said to her, Lois ‘’I can’t continue with this’’.

The monotony of alarm going off at 5am, heading to the gym followed by a packed train to travel to a job that I had lost all passion for, despite a distinguished career in insurance, I knew my time was done.

My Introduction to Drain Doctor

I had submitted a number of enquiries to different franchises and went to meet the representatives of my favourite opportunities. It was here I met with my now good friend Owen Barton of Drain Doctor. We met pre- covid, halfway down the M1 at a nice hotel where myself and Owen discussed the options available with Drain Doctor. Then Owen dropped the bombshell that the Bradford area was available – I was all ears.

I drove home with a mix of feelings, then, at age 26, there was only one thing to do – go home and furiously thrash out mind maps, become bogged down in figures & statistics, market competition analysis and a lot of late nights.

Ultimately though, it boiled down to 1 thing for me… recession proofing myself.

It was the recession proof business that Drain Doctor offered that had me once again traveling back down to meet the Drain Doctor MD – Pierre Jeannes.

After a couple of hours, Pierre and I shook hands, and I left with the promise of my franchise agreement in the post in the next few days. After a number of calls and emails, D-Day had come and I told my wife that regardless of how I felt in the morning, if I didn’t join Drain Doctor then, I would probably never do it.

Signed, sealed, delivered.

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Starting Out… During COVID-19

Now the work really began, and I was ready to knuckle down.

But as the next 6-8 weeks unravelled it became obvious that the world was going into meltdown! News stations beaming images of Wuhan with people locked in their houses, and I knew something bad was about to go down… Great time to set up a new business Ben!
I had always planned to commence trading in early April, & true to my plans, that day did come & so did our first national lockdown of 2020.

Hiring new members of staff, my training providers closing and the valuable Drain Doctor support limited with their ability to get hands on me and my business, it would be enough to send a man into his shell… but the coronavirus hadn’t yet met this stout Yorkshireman.

The early weeks were spent glued to the news; what is going to happen? Will I have to close my new business? How will I pay my bills? Will all this new equipment be laid up gathering dust? In short no, not a chance. With the support of my Franchise Business Coach, we began marketing to the businesses that remained open – to takeaways, letting agents etc.

It wasn’t that I didn’t respect the virus or what it was doing, I just simply put my blinkers on and ignored the noise. We took all the precautions necessary to safeguard staff and to ensure we could operate properly and in doing so. We got the show on the road.

I had to think outside the box about how I could market my new business when people are out of their businesses, phone lines were dead, automatic email replies stating that the offices were closed and so on.

Easy – get off of your arse and make it happen. Simple.

We leveraged the internet, we used the mighty google, we wrote to individual business owners, we put out flyers, we did everything we could. And even managed to make some valuable donations to local food banks.

I was the captain of this ship and failure is not part of my vocabulary.


Overcoming Challenges with the help of the Drain Doctor Team

Of course, we have hit humps in the road, I would be naive to think that we wouldn’t have had our ups and downs, especially in a year like 2020!

  • We had our Google listing temporarily suspended but the Drain Doctor support team worked tirelessly to get it re-instated

  • We lost and gained team members

  • We became oversubscribed with too many jobs for our team to handle but that’s a good problem to have when you’re growing a business right?

  • Of course, we made a few mistakes on the job but we made sure the customer was at the centre of our focus when apologising or repairing.

I also learned a lot about myself, especially the anxiety of stepping away from the business. As for any business owner in their first few years, coming away from the business for any reason drove me insane.

I’m a mad carp angler and as any self-professed carp angler will tell you, that it’s a passion that is time-consuming. I managed 4 or 5 sessions during 2020, with the last one resulting in a mad panic attack and coming home at 11 pm in the dark, wind and rain.

After a chat with my business coach – he gave me a dressing down & told me in no uncertain terms, downtime is good time & I shouldn’t feel guilty for it no matter what!

Lesson learned.

One thing I’m fortunate for is having a business coach in my corner. Much like a boxer, when you’re cornered, against the ropes and facing challenges, often the input of a fresh pair of eyes and clear-thinking is all you need. Step forward the Drain Doctor Franchise Business Coaches.

I’ve often been on the verge of making a mountain out of a molehill – but these guys have been there and seen it before and brought me crashing straight back down to earth for me to continue on my merry little path!



Moving Forward

I’ve been wanting to write this for a few months but decided to wait until the end of our first year in business to publish it so I could really think about the lessons I’ve learned.

I’ve asked myself over the last few months, would I go back to my old life? The answer has always been the same, NO!

Some people thrive on pressure & that’s exactly how diamonds are made – under pressure. Am I saying that I’m a diamond? Absolutely not. Am I saying that I love pressure? Absolutely yes.

It is under pressure that you find who you really are and what you are made of? If like me, you found yourself meandering meaninglessly through life, I would argue you are not under enough pressure.

People who live inside their comfort zone, do not grow mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. So, for anyone who has taken a quick 5 minutes out of their day to read this today, please don’t live inside your comfort zone – do the hard tasks every day, exposure yourself, live, learn and grow.

Top tips for your first year in business from me:

1 – Back yourself, back yourself to the wall
2 – Surround yourself with positivity people and a good team
3 – Accept the failures but more importantly, learn from them  
4 – Be relentless
5 – Plan your work then work your plan

We would like to thank Ben for letting us share his story with Franchise Direct.

If you would like to back yourself and step out of your comfort zone, contact the Drain Doctor team to see how they can support you and if there is an opportunity near you.

If you would like to back yourself and step out of your comfort zone, contact Owen to see how they can support you and if there is an opportunity near you.

Interested in finding out more? Contact franchise