Start up: July 2004
Cost of start-up: £14,000
The idea of entrusting your finest china or antique record collection to a ‘man with a van’ is a daunting prospect for anyone planning on moving house. Andrew Murphy, who runs a Taxivan’s franchise, says the company are attempting to build a brand ‘above and beyond’ this negative image. They offer a same day delivery service that covers everything from shifting sofas to picking up your shopping.
Murphy, 30, worked as a management consultant implementing IT systems for large companies before deciding that he was fed-up with working for other people and needed to do something different.
He spent a while looking around until he came across a new business called Taxivans and took a job working for them as a driver.
“I started working for Taxivans and got to see what it was like from the inside with the idea of running a franchise.
“I was getting very good feedback from clients and for other people working in the company.”
Like many franchisees Murphy was attracted to the idea of taking on a tried and tested concept as a business and felt that the investment was worth the risk.
“The great thing about having a franchise as your first business is that you don’t have to think of everything.
“It is a more secure way of starting up.”
In July 2004, he paid £15,000 for the west London franchise of Taxivans, with money borrowed from his family as well as a loan from the bank. Murphy was one of the first people to take a franchise out with the company, however he feels it was a good investment.
“Fifteen grand is actually quite low and cash flow was almost immediate. As soon as you get the vans on the road you are away, I started employing people right from the start.”
He says that he found his bank to be very positive with his business plan and that they wanted to help.
“I approached them with a business plan and I had all the figures and they were really positive and very helpful.”
Unlike some franchises Taxivans aren’t highly regimented in their style of training, but Murphy is happy with the back-up provided by his franchisor.
“There is no formal operating manual, but the support is there.”
Murphy was pleased with his investment and decided to purchase the rest of the Capital’s franchises and is now in control of the whole of the Greater London area.
Life as a franchisee
In total he has invested about £135,000 into the venture. Last year he made about £20,000 profit, although he feels that this is still early days and expects further financial success in the future.
“I have been working about 60 hours a week, but you don’t mind so much when you are working towards something.”
Franchisees pay Taxivans 15 percent of their profits each month and hire the vehicles via a recommended leasing company. However, franchisees benefit from the company’s marketing and advertising and a flow of business that is directed to them from a call centre at head office.
Murphy’s main challenges are ensuring that everything goes smoothly between his drivers and the customers once the booking has been made.
“My main challenges are logistics and communications. There are so many different things to arrange in the job.
“One of the hardest things in London is parking. You need to have somewhere for the vans to load.
“I’m not quite sure how to describe the attitude of parking attendants, but they are pretty fundamental when issuing tickets.”
As well as private individuals Taxivans has set up accounts with large companies and retailers, such as B&Q and the Ocean Store.
“We are being approached more and more by stores who want to set up accounts.
“They like the idea of the same day delivery. Their customers like instant gratification.”
The next step
Murphy wants to double the number of vehicles that he has on the road in the next 12 months and is optimistic that this can be achieved.
He feels that he went the right way about going about running his own business and advises other prospective business people to approach any similar type of deal with their eyes open.
“Just really research what you are getting into. I was quite lucky to actually do the job myself before I bought a franchise. That was really useful.”