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Exclusive Interview with David Hogg, Snap-On Tools franchise for Bolton and Salford

Name: David Hogg
Location: Bolton and Salford
Franchise: Snap-On Tools
Past Division: Royal Military Police

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background in the armed forces

I was never particularly academic at school – I came out of school with 7 C’s, one B and one E. I went from there straight into the Army aged just 16.

I was in the Royal Military Police for four years altogether and by the time I turned 20 I had worked my way up to Corporal. I left the army because I was really keen to start a family. It was really one of my main reasons for leaving - I’d just done 6 months in Helmand Province with the paras. It was a really hard time and I saw a lot of tragic and difficult things. It really brought it home to me that I wanted to spend time with my family and have a family of my own. Once I knew I wanted to get out I knew I wanted to do it straight away because I wanted to get out whilst I was young enough to start a new career.

Was there a particular reason why you decided to buy a franchise after being in the armed forces?

Money played a big part in my decision – you can earn very good money as a franchisee with Snap-on. Being my own boss was a huge draw for me too.

Where did you first hear about franchising?

Initially, after I left the army, I went into banking but after a few years I was made redundant. One of my good friend’s dad is a Sales Developer for Snap-on. We got talking after my redundancy and he suggested I take a look at the franchise. I didn’t really know much about franchising until I talked to him, but the more I found out about the model and the support structure, the more I was sure it was the way to go rather than starting a business from scratch.

What research did you undertake?

I researched the franchise opportunity online, met with the head office team and went out on van rides with other franchisees to get a feel for what being a Snap-on business owner might be like. This really helped in my decision-making process.

And why did you choose your particular franchise?

I was a little reluctant at first, as I had no experience in the tool trade. The more I looked at Snap-on’s training programme, the more I realised that knowledge of tools wasn’t crucial. Snap-on train you on all the products and provide the marketing materials. They’ve already identified your customer-base before you start so all Snap-on were asking for was an enthusiastic, hard-working, people person- I was confident I could deliver all three!

How did you raise the finance to fund your franchise?

I used redundancy money to fund my franchise fee and then I got a loan from Snap-on finance for my initial stock. I pay that back every week in a set amount which is good for cash flow and always knowing where you are financially.

Many ex-servicemen and women go into franchising, why do you think this is? (Is it an easier transition back into civilian life?

Being in the armed forces teaches you to take direction and guidance well. Snap-on gives you the freedom to be your own boss, whilst keeping you up to date and informed of new products and services. That’s why I think so many ex-servicemen and women go into franchising; Snap-on can provide structure to those who have been ‘brought up’ on routine. The friendships I’ve built with my customers also reminds me of the camaraderie from my Army days.

How did you find the transition from being on a salary to being self-employed?

I manage my cash flow in a way which suits my family. On top of my weekly income, I bonus myself now, so if I do over £6k paid sales a week I pay myself a bonus. I’m building a future for my family, and working hard means I’m can afford to enjoy life without worrying about bills.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?

No two days are ever the same, that’s for sure! Snap-on work with you to plan your routes, so I spend most of the day driving to my regular jobs. That’s what I enjoy most; being out on the road and visiting customers.

What challenges have you had to overcome as a franchisee? How has being in the armed forces helped you overcome them?

To be honest, the change in career was a little hard to handle at first and the initial training was quite full on – but I really enjoyed it. As someone who had come from a fairly regimented, and sometimes high-pressured learning environment, I responded well to the style of training at Snap-on. It was very relevant to the job I would be doing, and it set the standard for the level of customer service I wanted to offer my customers. We learnt about the tools, how to sell, features and benefits, systems, finance options, and IT. I learn quite quickly and I’ve done sales before so I definitely picked it up well.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so, how?

I now have the time to spend with my wife, Michaela and our little baby girl. I can fit my work schedule around my life and I even find the time to indulge in my passion for fitness. I enjoy going out with my friends too, although this happens a lot less now we have a little one!

Would you recommend franchising to other ex-servicemen or women? And what’s your reason for this?

I personally think Snap-on would be perfect for REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers). You need to have drive, ambition, people skills and appreciate the level of camaraderie in the industry – I think that’s why army lads do well with Snap-on.

What are your plans for the future?

My plan is to get an assistant on my current van, train him up and then if a convenient second territory comes available I’ll buy a second territory and a van and put my assistant into that. Then I’ll get a new assistant for my van. Snap-on even help you to find an assistant if you want them to.

Would you do it again?

Definitely. Leaving the army with little-to-no idea of which direction my life was heading in was a frustrating time for me, in fact I wish I’d found Snap-on sooner. I can’t wait to see what I can achieve with Snap-on in the future.