Franchise Spotlight: Building Services
A trusted franchise brand is priceless in a booming sector blighted by cowboy operators, while a head office call centre can give you an edge over short-staffed independents.
Building service franchises can be broadly divided into two camps.
Some enhance a property’s living space and value, like flooring, landscaping, loft conversion or kitchen/bathroom remodelling franchises. Others, like electrical services, drainage and plumbing or general property repair, conduct maintenance and repairs.
- £72.8bn sector growing 7% annually, fuelled by house-price inflation, the Help to Buy Scheme and the ‘improve, not move’ trend
- Most popular home improvements are new carpets (35%), new kitchens (31%) and garden landscaping (29%)
- A well-known franchise brand is hugely reassuring for customers keen to avoid cowboy firms
For building services, every dwelling in the country represents a potential customer – whether they’re a homeowner, residential landlord or property developer. Then there are the 300,000 new homes slated for construction.
Several trends have converged to drive a market boom in recent years. House-price inflation and government policies to stimulate the housing market, like the Help to Buy Scheme, are two. High stamp duty costs, meanwhile, have sparked an ‘improve, not move’ trend.
An extension, conservatory or new kitchen can boost a property’s value well beyond the financial outlay.
Maintenance and repair services are more recession-resilient – some jobs simply must be done. And some sectors, like electrical services, often generate commercial as well as residential business.
Is a building services franchise for me?
Anyone who’s tried to hire a builder in recent years might recognise how demand seems to outstrip supply. Many self-employed tradespeople struggle to handle the volume of calls from prospective customers, often answering them while out on jobs.
But franchisees have a team of support staff dedicated to fielding calls from prospective and current customers.
You needn’t be a tradesperson yourself; indeed, a background in sales, marketing or senior management could give you a distinct advantage over the self-employed tradesperson.
Dyno, for instance, recruits franchisees with a “commercial track record” from many “market sectors.” Mr Electric says many " franchisees already work in electrical contracting or associated trades”, but many others “have no previous experience – you don't need to be a technical expert or a qualified electrician.”
With an effective formula for exploiting significant demand, it’s no wonder established franchisees at one brand generate more than £2m in turnover. At another, a £40,000 profit is possible in just the first year.
The structure of building services franchises
Paying hundreds or thousands of pounds, customers are naturally anxious to avoid cowboy operators that might damage their home and most valuable asset.
Buy a franchise and you immediately acquire a trusted brand, strong online presence and, hopefully, high scores on customer feedback websites like Trustpilot and Checkatrade (which are also an easy way to research a franchise before you commit).
Building services can be expensive. Benefiting from economies of scale and a fine-tuned business model, franchises can offer very competitive prices. For instance, one franchise performs loft conversions from as little as £300.
Some are innovative in driving down prices – kitchen facelifts offered as a cheaper alternative to a conventional ‘rip and replace’ jobs, for example.
The franchise should also possess, or help you obtain, all relevant insurance and trade qualifications/accreditations.
Building service franchises obviously tend to be van-based. This makes them highly scalable, since adding further vans as you grow is cheaper than buying additional retail or office space.
Building service franchises typically offer benefits like:
- A well-known brand with tried, tested, fine-tuned business model
- Your own exclusive territory with leads generated and nurtured by head office
- Extensive initial training in the trade, as well as accounts, invoicing, ordering materials, lead management etc
- Ongoing training and support for you and your staff
- National marketing campaigns, plus collateral and tools to run your own
- Search-engine optimised website
- CRM (customer relationship management) software to help you track invoices and project-manage jobs
- Detailed operations manual
- Tools and equipment at competitive prices
- Branded clothing and liveried van
- Industry accreditations