Autosmart was established over 40 years ago by a husband and wife team who saw the success of franchising in America and wanted to use this business format to distribute vehicle-cleaning products. They were keen to create ‘shops on wheels’ which they would call mobile showrooms. From these small beginnings, Autosmart grew steadily from a handful of Midlands-based franchisees into an international market-leading brand.
Today, Autosmart manufacture over 300 professional vehicle and hygiene cleaning products at our factory in Staffordshire and which are distributed by a network of almost 120 franchisees across the UK. There are a further 100 franchisees internationally in countries as widespread as Australia and Sweden.
Autosmart franchisees provide a range of cleaning products for keeping premises, vehicle fleets, staff and customers safe and clean. The £3bn market place is vast and includes the following: car dealerships, ambulance services, haulage, transportation, vehicle rental companies, body shops, agricultural dealers, coach and bus operators, plant hire, as well as construction and food processors.
All these businesses rely on our products. They benefit by buying in bulk and consider us a trusted supplier and partner. One of our longest standing customers, Eddie Stobart, the UK’s best known haulier, have trusted us to clean their entire fleet of vehicles since 1979.
Our franchisees operate within their own exclusive territories and visit their customer base regularly, which provides them with a regular monthly income. In a world of online ordering that lacks human interaction, Autosmart are known for our personal focus on our customers. Customers are visited by an absolute expert who can show them how to make our concentrated cleaning products last longer with a unique cost control system. This resonates more than ever with businesses who are looking to keep their costs down.
We are confident that by 2025 the number of sales units internationally will outstrip that of the UK and deliver an additional £6 million of turnover. This growth in mobile showrooms and turnover has been a major reason in our recent £25 million investment in a new manufacturing site to help us support and deliver products to our franchisees around the world.
Autosmart franchisees are at the centre of a support infrastructure which is in place to help them succeed.
This kicks off before they start trading with a 5-day induction course held at the head office in the Midlands. During this course, new franchisees will learn all about the best-selling products and how to demonstrate them to a customer. There is a day devoted to learning the unique cost-control system that goes in place with a product sale. Of course, there is lots of interactive sales training too.
Each franchisee is allocated their own business coach and will receive shoulder-to-shoulder coaching. The coach will accompany the franchisee on field days and then give lots of advice on any aspect on their business, from selling style through to targeting a particular sector within the market place. The coaching starts with a pre-start meeting to complete a training module called “Passport to Success”. They will discuss their personal dreams and goals and tie it all into a business plan, which they can refer back to on a regular basis to keep track of their success and remind themselves of why they joined Autosmart.
The Customer Service hub provides our world-wide franchisees with the best service and support possible, helping them be more productive, positive and successful. Available from 8.30am to 5pm every day via phone, email, Facebook or Whatsapp the multilingual team provides sales, technical, marketing, product and national account support accurately and in a timely manner. Our franchisees are at the heart of everything that we do.
A typical day starts at the warehouse around 7.30, making sure that the mobile showroom is fully loaded with the correct cleaning products for the day ahead. Planning is the key to success and knowing which products to have on-board is the first step. Franchisees have a 20-day route plan that involves visiting the same set of 20 customers on the same day each month. They will know in advance which products to stock up on. They also spend time making sure their own showroom is in pristine condition.
They have two types of working days. Days where they are visiting an existing customer base and days that they devote to winning new business.
New business days involve, picking an industrial estate to call on as there are lots of doors to knock on in a relatively small area. This means that they have a concentrated area of potential customers to target.
Most franchisees have never sold a thing before joining Autosmart. Their training and support has made it easy and enjoyable for them to win new customers.
There’s a real mix of businesses that can benefit from our cleaning range. A typical day could take a franchisee to waste disposal fleet site, car dealership, to a refrigerated vehicle site and even a doors and joinery company.
They’re selling products that businesses need every day to keep their premises, staff and fleets of vehicle safe and clean. Their goal is to invite the person responsible for buying the cleaning products onto the showroom and then to demonstrate the polish, car shampoo, window or wheel cleaner in action.
The franchisee will leave the day on a massive high, typically winning several new customers. They know that 2/3 of them will repeat purchase in the future as long as they keep knocking on their door.
For those who don’t have time to jump onto the showroom, they leave each of them with a promise that they’ll return at a convenient time the same day next week.
Franchisees will stop for lunch and maybe catch up with fellow franchisees on Whatsapp groups, or call head office with product related question.
Autosmart franchisees own established businesses with repeat rounds of customers that in many cases have been buying for decades. The majority of their days will be spent servicing the long-standing and loyal customer base and supplying them with their top-up orders. Franchisees will typically visit 20 existing customers on a “recall” day. They plan their routes so that they visit the furthest away customer first and then the final customer will be closest to home. They develop great relationships with their customers and introduce them to a new product each time they visit.
They use their on-board computerised invoicing system called ATLAS to record what the customer has purchased and to invoice the customer directly.
Franchisees and their customers benefit from our unique dispensing system called “minibulk” which allows the franchisee to top up the customer’s barrel of screenwash or traffic film remover directly from the showroom barrel. The franchisee installs a “Barrel for Life” at the customer’s premises and then the customer can purchase as little or as much as they need every month – a USP that really sets an Autosmart franchisee apart from any competition.
Franchisees will return to their warehouse around 5.30pm and ensure that their showroom is loaded up for the following day and spend some time keeping on top of business admin and stock control.
Running your own business with Autosmart is exciting and rewarding. As an owner-operator you will be juggling many roles from sales person, financial controller, logistics manager through to IT consultant and purchasing manager. And you are not alone. With a head office support infrastructure in place and regular regional meetings, franchisees feel that they are also part of a very supportive team.