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Interview with Drain Doctor franchisee for East Anglia


  • Name: Rob Simpson
  • Location: East Anglia
  • Franchise: Drain Doctor
  • Date launched the franchise: November 2009

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your Drain Doctor franchise business?

I grew up in Suffolk and spent the first part of my career in Estate Agency then joined Yellow Pages as an Advertising Account Manager. In 2009 I decided I wanted to practice what I preached and started looking for my own business.

Can you also tell us about Drain Doctor? 

Drain Doctor has been operating in the UK for 30 years and is part of Neighbourly which is the largest franchise business in the world providing an extensive range of property maintenance and improvement services.

I provide drainage and plumbing services in Peterborough and the surrounding towns and villages.

Why did you go down the franchise route? What made you choose the drainage industry? And why Drain Doctor?

I knew I wanted to be my own boss and considered starting my own business. However, I did not have any specific product or service knowledge. It seemed franchising was a logical choice with training and proven systems.

Someone I knew then mentioned he was selling his Drain Doctor Franchise. We carried out some due diligence and then purchased the business from him.

How did you raise the finance?

We took a business loan from Barclays which covered roughly a third of the cost and paid the previous owner the balance over 30 months

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

Drain Doctor provided a two week initial training course and I had the added benefit that the previous owner stayed on to help me for the first 6 weeks. Drain Doctor provide regular Franchisee training at their Brackley offices.

How would you describe your day-to-day role as a franchisee

Effectively I am my own boss. I manage all aspects of the business – sales and marketing, technical advice to clients, financial management, staff management and recruiting etc.

What challenges have you had to overcome? And what are your key successes to date? 

The Private Sewers Act of 2011 reduced the amount of drainage in which we could operate as a significant proportion transferred ownership to the Water Authorities. This was a major challenge during the first two years of running our business.

However, we have grown steadily across the 13 years we have owned the business, only seeing a reduction during 2020 due to Covid. We were fortunate to be classed as a key industry so were able to continue trading and providing emergency services for our broad range of commercial and domestic clients.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life?

Being a Franchisee initially was a lot of hard work to get the business moving in the direction we wanted. However, in recent years it has provided a much-improved lifestyle and work/life balance. Additional benefits include being able to employ our children at various times and more recently to enable my brother, Paul, to join as a Director.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

Work very hard in the first few years to the point where you can afford to employ good people who take on some of the burden enabling us to have more free time.

Can you tell us why your franchise is ideal for those looking for a scalable opportunity?

Traditionally Drain Doctor sell single area franchises with a population of around 600,000 people. Over the years we have bought additional areas and now provide our services to around 4,000,000 people. The benefits of being a multi-area franchise are that we can provide services to much larger regional clients and benefit from economies of scale.

How do you retain your best staff and keep morale high and productive?

We “treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves”. As such we treat all members of our team as part of our extended family. We try to have fun in the process but also incentivise our team to achieve their maximum potential. As an example, it makes us incredibly proud when a young Technician is able to buy his or her first home, knowing that in some small way we have helped them to achieve their goal.

Can you tell us about any community involvement, including any local partnerships, incentives or charity work you are involved in? 

We are keen to assist grass roots sports and all three Directors have played sport locally and acted as volunteers for local sports groups. To take this further we are planning to invest money in 2023 into a number of local sports clubs across our region.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise? 

Do your research, try and find a recession-proof business and then work hard. Franchising has proven systems but none can guarantee a certain amount of work. Only rely on yourself to win business, everything else that comes as being part of a Franchise Group is a bonus.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?  

Someone with a clear focus, the willingness to work hard and to listen to the advice of your franchisors and fellow franchisees

What are your plans for the future?

My brother joined us in 2020 and this has enabled me to start working part time thereby improving my work/life balance!

If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?

Start earlier!

Interested and want to know more about Drain Doctor ?

The Drain Doctor profile outlines all aspects of their franchise opportunity and allows you to contact them for further information or to ask a question.

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