Autosmart is the UK’s largest manufacturer and supplier of professional vehicle cleaning products to the trade. Our customer base is varied. For example, thousands of car dealers, hauliers, valeters, taxi firms and plant companies all use our products every day.
We develop and manufacture all of our own products and distribute them exclusively through our network of franchisees. Autosmart have been established since 1979. We currently have over 100 franchisees in the UK and Ireland and many more overseas too.
Autosmart has been helping franchisees to make a success of their businesses for 40 years and is one of the UK’s most established franchises, with a network of 225 franchisees worldwide.
Every territory now available is a resale, offering the benefits of existing sales combined with the opportunity for additional future growth. We currently have several resale opportunities, based around Cwmbran, Watford, Basingstoke, Ashford & South West Essex.
If you want to learn more about our business opportunities, please use the contact details and weblink above.
A 5 day induction course at the Autosmart’s head offices will give the franchisee basic product and sales skills, as well as an insight into the marketplace. But to really give the franchisee’s business a kick-start, Autosmart allocate them a Regional Business Manager (RBM) who is a sales coach and trusted business advisor and will provide the franchisee with tailor-made field support.
Autosmart franchisees operate within their own exclusive territories selling our unique range of valeting products from a van kitted out inside like a supermarket. They are out and about in their vans building up a customer base that they supply to each month. They have two types of days; calling in on existing customers and also winning new ones.
Before investing in a franchise, it is essential to gain a realistic view of what life would be like for you. Autosmart’s Roy Smith gives a peek into what a day in his driving seat is like:
Starting a business with Autosmart was my first step to success and security. I love being my own boss and knowing I am in total control of whether or not I succeed. Everyday takes dedication, self-discipline and an organised schedule to be successful and today was no different.
Like a lot of Autosmart’s franchisees, my background wasn’t in the automotive trade; I was actually a jewellery manufacturer. When the recession hit my company, I was without a job and stuck in what felt like no man’s land for almost two years before I found Autosmart.
The Autosmart franchise initially appealed to me because they had been around for decades and won lots of awards. I wanted to run my own business but with the support of an established brand and business model.
After more research I discovered that Autosmart also offered ongoing training and support for the life of my business.
06:10 Rise and Shine
I wake up, get ready for the day and leave my wife Michelle and our two children at home asleep. I prefer to start my day as early as possible. I’ve learnt that the earlier I start, the more productive I am.
07:10 A Clean Start
Eight miles of driving later I arrive at my lock-up, park my car and head over to my Autosmart van.
Last night I restocked my van and made sure I had the right products on board for today’s customers. I’m pleased I have one less job to do this morning.
I don’t need to wash my mobile showroom daily, but with the recent weather it’s definitely needed.
The mobile showroom is my shop so it needs to be clean and tidy. I drive down the road to my regular wash point and see a neighbouring franchisee. We have a catch up whilst cleaning then wish each other good luck for the day.
07:30 Planning to Achieve
I bought my business in January 2013, and like all Autosmart businesses these days, mine was established with a regular round of repeat customers. I’ve since grown my customer base substantially and I want to keep growing to get the most out of my business.
I plan to concentrate on winning new business this morning.
08:00 Growing my Business
I’ve picked an industrial estate to call on today as there are lots of doors to knock on in a relatively small area. This means that I have a concentrated area of potential customers to target.
I’d never sold a thing before joining Autosmart but this isn’t unusual. I find it easy to approach new customers because I’m selling them something they need and use every day.
I take the shop to them and do a quick, simple demo, and show the customer how buying from me saves them time, effort and money.
08:10 Call to Action
I park my truck at the bottom of the industrial estate and plan to make my way through each of the units throughout my morning. The units and warehouses are occupied by a real mix of businesses; from a waste disposal fleet site, ironmongers, to a refrigerated vehicle site and even a doors and joinery company.
After approaching 14 different businesses I leave the industrial estate pleased with my efforts, sales and new contacts.
Nine of the 15 people I spoke to were keen to jump on my showroom and look at the range of products. Everybody who had a chance to view the showroom stock saw several product demos and bought no less than one product. I know at least 2/3 of them will buy from me in the future as long as I keep knocking on their door.
For those who didn’t have time to jump on my showroom, I made sure to leave each of them with a promise I’d return at a convenient time the same day next week. I book the times in my diary and make notes on each business and my new contact so I don’t forget.
I stop by a mobile cafe and grab a quick bite to eat.
13:05 Smart Service
I call head office to ask the franchisee support team a question about a customer I am seeing tomorrow. He has a set of plastic school chairs with metal legs that the kids have drawn all over and I don’t want to risk recommending the wrong product.
They check with the lab who recommend the best two products to use. I note the answer in tomorrow’s schedule. Even though my product training has been thorough, there is always the odd query that will pop up and I know I can call the team anytime I need a speedy answer.
13:20 Customer Trust
My first customer visit is somebody I won right at the start. We have since developed a great relationship; he has even allocated me a spare set of keys to restock his stock room at a fixed level every two weeks. I arrive and replenish what is needed and even rotate his stock to ensure he uses the older chemicals first.
I continue on my planned route and have 10 more customers to see. It’s great getting to know each of my customers more and more with each visit. Loads of them are so familiar with my van they grab what they need in no time without any input from me.
While driving to my next stop, I receive a phone call from a customer who needs an unscheduled delivery. I offer to drop by today but he tells me tomorrow morning is better. I pull over and make sure I add the new delivery to tomorrow’s schedule.
17:00 Lock up, Stock and One Last Customer
I’ve planned my route so I visit my furthest away customer first and my final customer of the day is closest to home. I finish with my last customer, head back to restock my van for tomorrow and make sure everything else is in place.
18:30 Switch Off, Tune In, Zone Out
I’m home and can look forward to an evening of good food and family time. Typically, I have half an hour of general paper work I like to deal with after dinner, but I’m on top of everything and this evening is completely mine to do as I please. As it’s Friday, my weekend starts here.
I can relax and enjoy time with my family, knowing I have worked hard towards my business this week. It’s also a huge boost knowing that as a family, we will all benefit from my work without a middle man taking any of the credit.
Frank was 45 when he joined us and had been working as a regional Operations Manager for Co-op stores, with 20 stores in his area. Whilst working for the Co-op, he felt stuck in a rut – earning a good salary but with 10 other colleagues at the same level all waiting for their boss to leave in order to get promoted. Frank had reached a position where he couldn't progress any further and was frustrated that he couldn't achieve any more.
Having been made redundant in March 2006, Frank realised this was a great opportunity and started to look around for a business that would give him the autonomy and income he was searching for.
"I wanted to escape the red-tape – I was so frustrated by not being able to make a decision without consulting several different people. I was just looking for my independence".
Frank considered several franchises before choosing Autosmart. A proven business concept and a great reputation ensured that Autosmart quickly became his number one choice.
"I looked at lots of different franchise concepts, but none came close to Autosmart – I think there was something about it that appealed to me. And the fact that they were prepared to assist me with the funding made me realise how confident they were in their product. The figures all stacked up and I thought, yeah, this is achievable. I spoke with my local HSBC manager and with their support to get funding in place I was all ready to start."
Frank joined the Autosmart network in October 2006 and hasn't looked back since. He bought a business that was just over break-even and has more than trebled the sales since he started – and he sees no reason why he can't grow by the same amount again.
"I have never worked as hard as I do at the moment, but I have also never been this focused and driven – this is an incredibly exciting period for me. Going to work gives me 100% satisfaction and every day is a challenge. I get home at the end of the day feeling that I have really achieved something. Financially I am in control of my earning potential and knowing that there is no limit is something I find exhilarating."
Frank claims that the biggest impact on his business - that convinced him he had made the right decision - was the training and support he received whilst getting started and during his first few months on the road.
"The support I have received from Martin (Frank's support manager) has been fantastic - he has a vast pool of knowledge and brings a fresh perspective to the business. I love to bounce ideas off Martin and will often just call him up for a bit of a chat as well. Without Martin I would never have got my sales past £20k a month as every time I have reached a plateau, he has always been there to motivate me".
This may be a bit modest on Frank's part – we know that his hard work and dedication has been a big driver behind his fantastic business development.
As for his home life, Frank says he probably works longer hours than he did five years ago however he is now in total control of when he will be spending time with his family. In his old job, staff phoning him and asking him to come into work would interrupt his days off and holidays – this doesn't happen now. Although he works long hours in the week he always has weekends off and he can now make more of his time with the family.
"Being in control of my future means I am happier than I have ever been. There's very little else to say – this has been, without a doubt, the best decision I have ever made".
29-year-old Dene Cummings is the Autosmart franchisee for Crawley. Dene had previously worked as a salesman for another Autosmart franchisee, so he knew the business very well when he decided he wanted to invest in a franchise for himself.
“When the Crawley area became available I decided that it was too good an opportunity to miss and the time was right to start my own business,” says Dene. “I had seen for myself how well the Autosmart business model works and know that the products are really well respected by the trade. Not only that, but they’re washing and polishing vehicles every day, so have to replenish stocks regularly.”
It was an important decision for Dene, who is married with one child, but one that he is delighted he made; he particularly enjoys the fact that each day is different, such is the eclectic mix of clients he has.
Dene comments: “I really love life as an Autosmart franchisee. I’m out and about every day visiting existing customers and finding new ones. All sorts of customers use our products, so it’s really varied. One moment I might be admiring a Ferrari in a top end detailers, the next I could be showing an engineering company how to clean their machinery.”
Shaun Martin is the new Autosmart franchisee for Bromley. Shaun was asked why he had chosen to take on an Autosmart franchise:
“I previously worked as an operations manager for a large chain of Chinese supermarkets. I had risen through the ranks as far as possible and was ready for a new challenge. I really wanted to have my own business, but was unsure exactly what to do.
“When my wife saw the advert for an Autosmart franchise, she knew that it was perfect for me. I love cars – I’ve restored my own classic car and really wanted something that would take me out and about, rather than sitting in an office all day. I also loved the idea of working by myself, rather than having the headache of employing staff.
“It’s all still very new, but I I’m really enjoying working for myself. The support from Autosmart is fantastic - I’m absolutely certain that I made the correct decision.”
Steve Beaumont, aged just 26 when he joined Autosmart as the franchisee for the Derby Dales, reflects on his first three years.
“Coming from a civil engineering background, I knew that I could put my meticulous planning, focus and hard work into my own business venture, where I could reap the rewards of my own success. This is certainly starting to kick in now with my Autosmart franchise.
“I’ve just passed the three-year mark, I’ve paid off my bank funding and have taken on my brother as a salesman to give me the valuable time I need to get out and prospect for new business.
“The Derby Dales franchise had low starting sales and around 50 existing customers when I took it on. Through being very focussed and determined, I have grown this to just over 250 customers and increased the turnover five fold. I’m very pleased with what I have achieved in this short space of time, however, I will never rest on my laurels and I am always striving to beat the sales targets that I set for myself.
“Every quarter I analyse my business, looking at how much sales have grown, where business is coming from and what has gone well. I then set a plan and targets for the next quarter. These quarterly plans are building blocks that move me towards my end goal. I break these down to monthly, weekly and daily goals, so every day I know what I need to achieve to meet my target.
“I’d never sold before, so it’s a big learning curve. Running your own business means that you are sales person, financial controller, logistics manager, IT consultant and purchasing manager – all rolled into one!
“At first glance I thought that the majority of the potential would be based nearer to Derby and Nottingham and this is where I started prospecting in the first 6 months. However, since I started to explore the Dales more closely, it has become apparent that there is heaps of potential in the rural areas. My biggest customers up here are the quarries, farms and engineering firms. I get extra satisfaction from delivering to these customers, as they don’t get many mobile showrooms turning up and they love the service I provide!
“I’m now looking to plan the next phase of my business development and taking on my brother as a salesman is the first step. I plan to grow turnover from £26K per month to £35K/£40K within the next three years. I’m in the process of moving my warehouse to one that has four times the floor space to store all the stock I need to reach this target.
“The last three years have been incredibly hard work, but very rewarding. I’ve been focussing all my time on growing the business and repaying my bank loan as quickly as possible.
“I definitely plan to take some well deserved time off, as I have a wedding and honeymoon to organise and my fiancé and I are both turning 30, so a long over due break to Mauritius is now in the diary for next summer.”
Paul Daley-Smith has been an Autosmart franchisee for nearly 6 years. He discovered franchising early on in his working career:
I left school at 16 to serve my engineering apprenticeship in the local bacon factory. Just twelve years later I was the proud owner of my own business and Autosmart’s youngest franchisee at the time.
Even at 16, I wanted to do my own thing, but never imagined it was possible. I knew nothing about running a business and had no idea where to start. I was 28 when I noticed an ad in the local paper to “be your own boss!” It grabbed my attention and I rang for more information. That’s where Autosmart comes in!
It was as if the franchise was designed for me. Most Autosmart franchisees have never sold anything before and the simple one-man business concept means you don’t need management experience. Best of all, it was selling vehicle cleaning chemicals and I’ve always been mad about anything with wheels!
Even the recession hasn’t dented my success. At the moment my turnover is growing by 20%. At the height of the recession I invested in a brand new mobile showroom, to help drive my business forward. We take the showroom to our customers and show them what we do. My potential customers see a very professional, exceptionally well laid-out vehicle, with everything they need on show.
My success has given us huge personal gains. We now have a 3rd child and plan to move into a much bigger house next year, something that would have been out of reach on my engineer’s salary.
When his local Autosmart franchise came up for sale, my cousin decided he would be mad to miss the opportunity. He’s been a franchisee for just over 3 years and is also growing strongly. It’s fantastic to see another family member doing so well, too.
The great thing about Autosmart is it helps inexperienced people like me to become very successful. Education and experience aren’t everything. With the help of the right franchisor, you can make things happen if you work hard, believe in yourself and are enterprising. For someone who left school at 16 with no formal qualifications, my business success means everything to me and I have achieved more than I ever thought was possible.
Atul Patel has been an Autosmart franchisee for three years and he is already starting to reap the rewards of running his own business:
I spent 8 years working at a number of prestige car dealerships. I was good at my job, but I wanted a change and to use my skills to build something that would benefit my own family’s future, rather than a group of shareholders.
When I saw a local Autosmart franchise advertised, it got me thinking. The brand is very well respected in the industry. I realised that this could give me the chance to grow my own business in an industry that I enjoy. When I met the head office team and saw the experience and support available to help franchisees, I felt reassured that this was a safe investment. I was even more convinced that this was a winning decision when the British Franchise Association awarded Autosmart the prestigious title of Franchisor of the Year.
I have been a franchisee for just over 3 years now and love running my own business. It’s hard work but it’s very motivating to know that you are doing it for yourself rather than a boss. Initially I was concerned about the economic climate, but Autosmart franchisees have always grown in previous recessions. Customers use our products every day and we specialise in providing cleaning systems that save customers money.
I bought a small, established customer base and I have already increased sales by over 50%. Despite the market, I am exceeding all my targets and I know that the business is going to give me a fantastic living as it expands.
Autosmart franchisee Phil Johnson already knew the benefits of running your own company before he decided to take the plunge:
My wife has her own business and I always envied her independence. Before Autosmart I worked as a manager with a large fleet rental company. I had a good salary but felt that there must be more to life. As time went on I realised that I too wanted the freedom of being my own boss.
When a local Autosmart franchise came up for sale I knew that this was the opportunity that I was looking for. I had always worked in the motor industry, so I knew that Autosmart had been around for a long time.
I’ve been a franchisee for 4 years now and am really glad that I made the move. I’ve grown the business substantially and it gives me a fantastic living.
Our products are consumables and customers use them day in, day out, every day. I visit my customers regularly to top up their supplies and to see how else I can help them. Over time I have built a strong relationship with many of them. It’s really satisfying to know that people appreciate the service that I offer and like the products that I provide.
I love the fact that my business takes me out and about, rather than sitting in an office. No two days are the same - you’d be amazed at the different types of company that use our products. I sell to everything from prestige car dealers, valeters, hauliers and motor bike dealers, through to engineers and funeral parlours. I even supply a bespoke furniture company.
Potential franchisees always ask if I would recommend an Autosmart franchise. My Autosmart business affords me a great lifestyle. And I’m not alone. The rewards are there for anyone who has the drive to work hard at building their own Autosmart franchise.