Andrew started his Just Shutters business covering Exeter and the South West, back in April 2011. He had previously been running a car body repair business in Hertfordshire for ten years. Andrew started at the tender age of 24, first as a franchisee and subsequently as his own business. Ten years later, at 34, he decided it was time for something different. He needed a fresh challenge, and sold up.
Andrew explains: “I needed a change of working environment. I hadn’t had a proper holiday for five years, so after selling the business, it seemed like the right moment to step back, take stock and enjoy some well-earned time out. I bought a motor home, headed west with my surfboard and mountain bike and enjoyed a six month break."
After the break, plenty of surfing, running and mountain biking, Andrew was ready to recalibrate. He enjoys a personal challenge, and knew from past experience he would be more motivated working for himself again.
Just Shutters was immediately attractive to Andrew and after a meeting with Just Shutters directors Chris and Helen Rocker, master fitter Kate Papiernik, and fitter Martin Rogaluk, Andrew was convinced this was a great franchise opportunity.
Andrew had enjoyed his break down in the South West so much that, when he realised the Exeter and South West territory was available, he decided to relocate from Hertfordshire to setup his new Just Shutters business.
Andrew has now set the new goals. His plan is to grow to have two more vans and employees and “take the South West by storm”. He is also looking forward to a better lifestyle balance working and living in the South West, and making at least some time for surfing.
“I’m independent, and I knew I’d work harder with my own business again," he says. "I know how a franchise works and enjoyed building my smart repairs business, but the work was getting harder, margins tighter, and breathing in the paint fumes was having an affect too. I wanted a change of lifestyle and a ‘cleaner’ business.
UPDATE - October 2012
Since starting his business, it’s been a busy 18 months for Andrew – but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve absolutely no regrets,” he enthused, “since starting the business things have built steadily month by month. Going to county shows has brought many orders and I get a fair amount of referrals from satisfied customers, of course. I get a lot of enquiries each month and the conversion rate is really good. People really like the quality of the product.
“It takes time to establish a brand in a new location and now Just Shutters is more well-known than when I started the business. The thing about my area – and probably a lot of other places – is people prefer to buy from local businesses rather than the large national companies.”
Placing display advertisements in interior design shops is a marketing strategy that has paid off for Andrew. He adds: “I’ve had a quite a few orders that way. I wouldn’t say I have a typical customer; it’s people of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds. Some are improving their homes; others are first-time buyers looking to add some ‘wow factor’. Many people choose shutters rather than curtains and blinds, which they view as ordinary and even a bit old-fashioned.”
Andrew loves living in Devon. He added: “It’s a lovely place and there’s so much to do down here, including surfing, which is one of my passions. At the weekend, I can go cycling in breathtaking countryside or walk my dog in Dartmoor or visit Cornwall. It has been a big change for me, but I’m glad I made the move.”
So what has been the biggest lesson he has learned while running his businesses? “The importance of attention to detail,” he says. “If you follow the Just Shutters processes to the letter you can’t go wrong. That’s not just about fitting the shutters; it’s everything, from providing quotes to after sales support. The initial training you receive from Chris Rocker really is fantastic – it covers everything.”
Andrew is optimistic for the future of his business. “We all know money is tight at the moment because of the economy, but things are good for my business and I think that will only get better when the recovery starts,” he concluded.