Cost of start-up:£30,000
For Desmond Velinor, PlumbLocal is a franchise that offers him flexibility and allows him to “schedule my voluntary work (with young offenders) around my job as it’s such an important part of my life”. After completing an 11-week City and Guilds course, he was up and running making £1500 in his first week.
PlumbLocal is a franchise that intends to dispel the bad press that plumbers get by providing ‘a reliable local plumber at a sensible price’, and currently has over 50 franchisees. Each franchisee has to complete an 11-week City and Guilds training course to ensure competence, whilst PlumbLocal offers a full business format.
For Velinor, a man with a lengthy and successful career in distribution, the decision to become a plumber came when the plumber he called out to unblock his toilet handed him a large bill for several minutes work. He went through a lot of possible plumbing franchises but nothing seemed to fit quite right, whilst all full time courses had a two-year waiting list.
But eventually, he came across PlumbLocal on the internet who were offering franchising opportunities at the time, which included intensive City and Guilds training. Velinor says: “I met Steve Baker, managing director of PlumbLocal and immediately knew it was the kind of business I wanted to become part of. It seemed the perfect combination – a trade I knew I would enjoy within a well-established, well-organised, forward thinking company.”
He was able to register with the required capital (totalling around £30,000 including working capital), and started the course within a month of the first meeting with PlumbLocal. As all PlumbLocal plumbers are fully trained, the franchise seeks to provide a total local plumbing solution from fast response plumbing to full bathroom installation and tiling.
Life as a franchisee
The franchise provides a complete business format, including full support throughout setting up the business and trading. Velinor backs this up saying: “PlumbLocal provide excellent support and advice on areas such as marketing and PR”, and he adds “I’m finding one of the strongest methods of advertising is the branding on my van, although the Yellow Pages ads that PlumbLocal provide are paying dividends too.”
He goes on to say that the help he received was “on hand, and they provided call centres” for customer support, and “were very helpful rather than taking the money and running.”
But although he works long hours, he remarks: “I’m building something for myself which makes it all so much more rewarding.” Not only that, but it allows him to spend time on his voluntary work helping young people serve their community service as well as running regular diversity training sessions at Hendon police training centre. “I have been sharing my experiences with the young offenders I work with. Some of them have even been accompanying me on jobs to see what it’s like first hand.”
“My story proves that success is achievable.”