Neil and Reg Illingworth, Directors of Machmade in Merseyside – specialists in the plumbing, heating and drainage markets – have won the Customer Focus Franchisee Award in the prestigious annual bfa HSBC Franchise Awards 2018.
Run by the British Franchise Association (bfa), these widely-respected awards recognise both franchisees and franchisors who have demonstrated outstanding business acumen, innovation and achievement. Franchising is a simple relationship between two parties, the franchisor who owns the brand and business system, and the franchisee who contracts to run a copy of that business in a local area.
The bfa HSBC Franchise Award winners were announced last night, 28thJune 2018, at the ICC in Birmingham at an exclusive black-tie ceremony held between day one and two of the bfa Annual Conference. The Customer Focus Franchisee Award recognises franchisees that go above and beyond to deliver the best customer experience in both B2B and B2C businesses. The judges were particularly impressed by the franchisees’ partnership with Age UK and Age Concern, which has resulted in approved trusted trader status for older customers.
Machmade are a Dyno Franchise business operating in the greater Merseyside area, specialising in the plumbing, heating and drainage markets, offering a 24 hour/365 day emergency service to both contract and on-demand customers. It is a family-run business employing 56 staff. Both Directors Neil and Reg Illingworth take an active role in the day-to-day running of the business.
The company started trading in 1987 with two drainage vehicles and today it is a successful plumbing, drainage and heating business serving the Greater Merseyside area and visits over 20,000 emergency and 13,000 on-demand jobs annually. It maintains excellent levels of customer service through the use of a highly developed set of service metrics, designed to improve performance across all core functions.
The business strategy includes the profitable growth of its on-demand work and the company has continued to build its business on solid foundations to achieve this goal. It established its main target for growth as the development of long term relationships with large commercial contract clients.
This strategy involved the promotion of the competence and vetting of its staff and a world class service being delivered. They have also built beneficial partnerships with Age UK and Age Concern and become a local approved trusted trader for the older generation, offering guaranteed SLA’s and discounted prices.
Machmade also worked hard to gain “Super Hero” status in the Local Heroes scheme run by British Gas, bidding for work both in and out-of-hours. They also committed heavily to the “Rated People” and “Checkatrade” schemes.
Another important element in the business’s success, is the retention of highly trained and motivated plumbers. The ongoing recruitment and training costs to replace leavers can be significant and time-consuming and a 50% annual churn rates for plumbers is not uncommon. To address this issue, the business made a conscious decision to grow its capability through an apprenticeship programme. This resulted in staff retention rates improving by 70% due to the “feel good” factor and energy resulting from the investment in apprentices – this energy was picked up by customers and staff alike. 15% of the workforce are now apprentices.
The business also won the Regional Medium Sized Apprenticeship Employer Award earlier this year and was named in the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers for 2017.
On winning the Customer Focus Franchisee Award, Phil Allan, General Manager at Machmade Ltd, said, “We are absolutely delighted to win this prestigious award. At Dyno, valuing our customers is a number one priority and it is great to be recognised for our efforts. The recognition validates the hard work we have put into positioning the customer at the centre of everything we do at Machmade and has motivated us to continue to improve our focus on the customer.”
Pip Wilkins, CEO of the bfa, said, “It’s over forty years since the bfa was launched specifically to develop ethical franchising in the UK, and I am proud of the way the sector has grown in that time, with the industry’s turnover exceeding £15bn – that’s 1% of the UK’s GDP! If you are running a successful business or want to be your own boss, then franchising is a valid and important option for accelerating your business growth or starting your own commercial venture.”
“The bfa HSBC Franchise Awards 2018 are a celebration of the broad church that is franchising in the UK, from a large multi-national to a lifestyle business, as franchisors come in all shapes and sizes. Every year it’s really great to see the excellent work our members demonstrate through their entries and the quality has never been higher. I would like to thank all our finalists in this year’s awards and congratulate our winners, it was an extremely hard job for the judges to separate them. It great to see such a wide range of businesses represented as it really does illustrate the depth and breadth of franchising opportunities in the UK.”
“Businesses can flourish or fail depending on the quality of their customer care, and Neil and Reg Illingworth from Machmade demonstrated how getting it right can really drive growth. I would like to congratulate them on winning the Customer Focus Franchisee Award and wish them the best of luck in future.”
Andrew Brattesani, UK Head of Franchising for the Awards’ sponsor HSBC, said, “HSBC is delighted to be once again supporting these industry leading franchise awards. Franchise businesses are often the hidden engine of business growth in the UK and it is essential to highlight the important contribution both large and small businesses make to our economy. It is also important to showcase to people that they can run their own businesses and if you don’t want to go it alone, or haven’t got a strong business idea, you can still be successful and become your own boss, as together we thrive.”