Franchise: Driver Hire,
Cost of start-up: £30,000
In 2010, Gurpreet Bains was 29 years old, had a comfortable, well paid job in the city a newly born second child. This may seem an unusual time to become self-employed, but Bains had an insatiable desire to run a business and so he decided to buy a Driver Hire franchise.
Bains decided that buying into a Driver Hire would enable him to operate his own business, without all the risks of launching a start-up.
“I’d always wanted to be my own boss. A family friend who owns a Driver Hire franchise suggested I consider it as a less risky way of achieving my ambition."
Bains decided to research the company, before making a decision about buying a franchise. The UK’s largest specialist logistics and recruitment company, Driver Hire supplies drivers and non-driving personnel to the private and public sectors.
“My research showed that Driver Hire was a well established franchise with a proven business model and a nationwide network of successful offices.
“Meeting the senior management team confirmed that it was a highly professional organisation and I was given plenty of opportunity to talk to other Driver Hire franchisees and get their side of the story.”
With the decision of how to achieve his ambition made, Bains began the challenge of starting up his franchise.
“The London South East franchise I purchased had ceased trading about 18 months before I took it on. It had been successful in the past and I was sure it could be again.
“From the outset I had enough faith in my new business to recruit an additional member of staff. Together we set about turning the business around. It wasn’t easy. During the first two weeks our turnover was ‘nil’. In the third week we filled our first shift; and after six months we passed the landmark of 100 shifts per week.
“We now cover at least 130 shifts most weeks. Our all-time record week to date is 269 shifts.”
Life as a franchisee
Bains learned from his early struggle and realised that the key to his franchise’s success would be good communication with customers.
“Initially it was a case of re-igniting relationships with past customers. We called them on the phone, had face-to-face meetings and made full use of Driver Hire’s marketing team.
“Key to my plan was finding out what customers liked about Driver Hire and what they didn’t like. I used this information to more accurately meet their needs.
“As a result I now have an impressive client list of companies including CEMEX, Dagenham Motors, Eden Springs, Geopost and The Co-op group.
“I also introduced a recruitment plan so we had a pool of reliable drivers to meet our customers’ needs. We contacted our database of drivers who’d worked for the previous owner.
“We looked for ‘star guys’, found out where they were and what they were doing. We told them that we were up and running again and about the changes we had made and then, assuming they weren’t already in permanent employment, offered them work.”
Taking the time to engage with customers proved a success and Bains has since been reaping the rewards.
“Over the past two years I’ve been Driver Hire’s ‘New Start of the Year’ and in October 2012 I became the British Franchise Association’s (bfa) London and South East regional Franchisee of the Year.
“The judges noted my knowledge and understanding of recruitment and close relationship with customers as central to winning the award. It’s great to have my efforts recognised in this way and it’s helping me look forward to the future with renewed confidence and even greater ambition.
The next step
With these accolades under his belt, Bains is positive about the future of his franchise.
“I want to continue moving up, maintaining and building the business. For instance one recent initiative has been the addition of Driver CPC training to the services we offer. This is adding to my revenue stream and opening doors for new business.
“I miss the hustle and bustle of working in the City. But the rewards of being a Driver Hire franchise are many.
“I’ve learnt a huge amount about business development, office management and the value of going the extra mile for customers and drivers alike. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”