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Multi-van operation with Hire A Hubby is ideal franchise for DIY enthusiast


  • Name: Robert Gordon
  • Location: East Kent, focused on Ashford
  • Franchise: Hire A Hubby
  • Date launched the franchise: Dec 2017

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your Hire A Hubby franchise business?

I am 65, divorced with 3 children and used to work in the IT industry (15 years with Hewlett Packard). My role there was a “Solutions Architect” which was about identifying appropriate technical solutions for a customers’ IT infrastructure based on requirements/available technology and cost.

Can you also tell us about the franchise you have bought?

I invested in a 7 year franchise arrangement with Hire A Hubby, a property maintenance and handyman franchise.  It is an Australian brand that was expanding into the UK after great success in their domestic market.

Why did you go down the franchise route? What made you choose the home improvement industry? And why a Hire A Hubby franchise?

Whilst going through my redundancy process I heard an advert on the radio for Hire A Hubby. I was tired of the IT industry and didn’t want to return to it, so I took the situation as an opportunity for change.  I was comfortable with DIY for my own use, therefore when I heard the franchise brand name, it pulled everything together as I thought the brand name was excellent, unforgettable and said exactly what the service provided.

How did you raise the finance?

I used funds from my redundancy package.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

Training was a 2 week process, 1 week at head office to learn about the backend systems provided for my use (call handling and customer Data Base), other business related requirements (accountancy, insurance etc.).

Then a second week at a Trades training company where I spent a day on intense training on different skill sets (carpentry, tiling, plastering and plumbing)

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

 I am involved in managing logistics for my staff whilst they work on-site, handling new job request calls as they come in, talking to customers on the phone and then visiting them for face-to-face appointments to assess requirements/understand effort required. I would then typically generate detailed quotes for the customer same day. On occasion I would deal with jobs myself or provide an extra pair of hands for my staff on their jobs as required.

Provide information on challenges overcome as well as your key successes to date.

I decided from day one that I wanted to eventually grow to a multi-staff organisation rather than stay as a “one-man band”. Therefore, | set up as a Limited Company, registered for VAT and rented a small office to work from/provide storage facilities, this made start-up more expensive but | could present myself as a “professional company”, adopting that mindset when customer facing. I could also reclaim the VAT for the franchise fee, van, tooling and materials.

I started hiring staff approximately 1 year after establishing an initial customer base and currently grew to 3 employees, each with a branded van. The vans proved great advertising and the business grew steadily in the first 2 years.

My decision to establish myself as a limited company paid off when COVID struck, as the MD I could not claim furlough for myself but could for my staff and was able to keep them on even though workloads had drastically reduced. I also could claim for office rental costs so the combined Governments subsidies dramatically reduced outgoings, but I continued to work myself to keep the brand noticeable and provide revenue to cover my personal income.

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

Yes—it has injected considerable energy into my life even though I am at the normal retirement stage. I feel energised and motivated and far younger than my age as a result of being responsible for a company and staff. I also feel proud of the quality of the service I provide, focusing on exceptional delivery and the customer experience.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

I set personal limits, no on-site work allowed at the weekends and setting aside time during the week for personal commitments (dance lessons for example on Thursday mornings).

If you have staff, how do you retain your best staff and keep morale high and productive; how do you incentivise your staff and recognise success?

I put a lot of effort into hiring staff with an extensive process, not just interviews.

After the initial interview I ask for free format written reasons from the candidate as to why they are interested in the role, then attend a days (paid) work with myself for close assessment. I can therefore be confident that they would not only be suitable person for the role but also would be motivated by the aspiration of providing a quality product and feel proud of the work they do.

I then ensure I take a personal interest in the work they do, asking how they delt with challenges (both technical and customer related) and always find way of complimenting their efforts. This may be a minor detail but as I am trained in the work they do! can appreciate what aspects would have been difficult, even though the results may be hidden in the final product.

I allow irregular time off to cater for personal/unexpected issues (a day/afternoon etc.) without it impacting their holiday entitlement.

At Christmas, I provide a personally chosen/built hamper for each person which reflects their personal tastes and is not an “off-the-shelf” item. We then spend the afternoon together on the last afternoon before the Christmas break for drinks/food.

In general, I ensure each employee is treated as an individual rather than a generic “staff person” and show empathy for their personal situation when appropriate.

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

Due to COVID I have had to delay my plans to investigate the potential to establish a new course at my local University to offer an MBA in property management covering both the practical and business aspects of the role leading to a new franchisee position.

I am concerned that the younger generation are losing their practical skills as they tend to buy new rather than fix.

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

Look at your service from a potential customers perspective, what can you offer that would make it attractive to a customer? Avoid trying to be “the cheapest” though — value your skill/commitment/effort and charge based on the “value” you offer in terms of quality.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

Passion for your business and ambition to grow.

What are your plans for the future?

Grow the business further to possibly 8-10 staff and establish a legacy of a formal MBA in property management.

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

Hire more staff and earlier!

Interested and want to know more about Hire A Hubby?

The Hire A Hubby 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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