It’s a family affair at Revive! Southampton.
Ian Stewart launched the business five years ago after being made redundant from his position as distribution manager for a major supermarket chain. Then 54, he was looking for an opportunity that would not only give him a good income in the run up to retirement, but also create a business to pass on to his two sons.
Younger son Chris completed his technician training at the Revive! Academy and joined his father within six months. The original plan for eldest son, also called Ian to join the business much further down the line was brought forward, and Ian junior joined his dad and brother last year as a trainee. He was also able to take advantage of the comprehensive training provided by Revive! UK and recently achieved his IMI accreditation making him a fully qualified technician.
Explained dad Ian: “I never envisaged being made redundant in my fifties, and of course at that stage of life I had no thoughts about leaving a job to set up my own business. But I wanted to take charge of my own destiny, so working for somebody else again wasn’t an option. Before joining Tesco, I ran a Service Master franchise with my father, so I knew how franchising worked. It made sense to find an interesting proven business model that I could buy in to and then hit the ground running.
“I’ve just renewed my franchise licence with Revive! for another five years and have been really happy with all of the support and training they have provided.”
For Ian and his sons, the dynamic works perfectly and the trio have high hopes for the future. Whilst the family is close, they have never lived in each other’s pockets and the brothers have always got on well together. The deep understanding between them means that they have slipped naturally into their roles within the business.
Said Ian: “ My younger son Chris is more technical and hands on, whilst Ian, the eldest, with his retail management experience is more customer focussed and good at marketing and social media.
“For the day to day running, the Revive! bespoke IT platform manages everything, their diary, what time they have to be at a job and through our WhatsApp group they can let me know if they want to order anything. There’s no real need for frequent face-to-face meetings although we do meet up to set monthly targets and talk about our plans for the business.”
When it comes to division of labour, Chris drives the specialist wheel van, whilst Ian carries out bodywork repairs from the other van. The brothers pool their bonuses and share the money equally to balance out any price differences between allocated jobs.
From Ian’s point of view, there’s no downside to working with family members. “You know you can trust them and have no worries at all about going on holiday and leaving them in charge. The only time we have had any problem was when all three of us went down with flu–but luckily that was over Christmas when we weren’t very busy anyway!”
Currently the business focus is on building up the retail side of Revive! Southampton whist continuing to work with dealerships and exploring opportunities presented by car importing companies at Southampton docks. Longer term, Ian’s retirement is on the horizon.
“My exit plan right from the start was to hand over the business to the boys sooner rather than later. There’s a big comfy armchair just waiting for me in about three more years’ time when I’ll be happy to step back and leave it to them – and the next generation of Stewarts!”