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Mum of two, Terry Mullen, describes her journey into franchising with Smart Repair franchise Revive! and how it is to be a female in a male dominated industry.
I met Mark Llewellyn the Managing Director of Revive! in 1994 whilst I was working as a Small Business Manager at NatWest. Mark was new to franchising then setting up his own Smart Repair Company ‘Colorworks’ and I remember being really impressed by his enthusiasm and drive. I went on to watch him grow his franchisee network and I liked his ethics and how he really cared about the support he offered to his franchisees.
In November 2000 I was looking for a career change and mentioned this to Mark – he came back the next day and offered me a job!
I started off working for Mark selecting and recruiting franchises into the network. After 4 years I felt I had built up a good understanding of Smart Repairs as well as what made a good franchisor. I had strong opinions about where I would like the company to go so when we rebranded to Revive! in July 2004 I took the great leap of buying a stake in the business.
This was quite a decision for me as at the time I was a single mum of 2 children and 21 years in banking had taught me to be very ‘risk averse’. I really believed in what we were doing however and was excited about being able to put my own stamp on the new company going forward.
Absolutely! Franchising in the automotive sector is particularly male dominated and although I’m not really into cars as many of our applicants are, I have had to grasp a good understanding of the technical aspects of our repair process otherwise I wouldn’t have credibility with them. I have also had to deal with car salesmen and fleet owners to help generate work for our franchise network and I am sure there are many ladies out there who have encountered chauvinism in a car showroom.
On the whole however I believe that being a female is an advantage as once I show that I know what I am talking about then I can gain the candidates trust and respect and can be less threatening than some of my male counterparts.
This is one of the hardest parts of my job as Revive! won’t recruit anyone we feel won’t do well. The assessment process starts even before candidates come to us for their first visit as we get them to complete a ‘profile match questionnaire’ that asks direct questions about their desire to grow a business. On the day of their visit they meet our team and we all get a feel for how they relate to us as well as how thoroughly they are researching the market.
Whilst they will ask us questions about Revive! we are also probing them with questions to find a fit with our values. After the visit we ask for personal references to gain an even better understanding of the candidate and from April this year we are added psychometric testing to our assessment process.
It can be difficult calling someone to say we don’t feel that they fit with Revive! but on the flip side it is very rewarding when we do find a fit and then go on to recruit the candidate and watch them grow a highly successful business.
Do your due diligence thoroughly. Don’t be bamboozled with false promises of huge earnings potential. Don’t believe projections unless they can be supported by actual figures of existing franchisees.
Always speak to existing franchisees in the network – they are the franchisors best reference; and don’t accept just a few names of franchisees chosen by the franchisor – ask for a full list and choose yourself.
Revive! is a reputable and professional Car Paint Repair Service Franchise.
We work in partnership with our franchisees and the fact that our income comes from a percentage of our franchisees sales rather than a fixed fee means that we are directly bought into our franchisees success. We are the only Smart Repair franchisor to work closely with fleet companies and car manufacturers and currently provide approx 20% of the work undertaken by our network.
No experience of spraying is needed as our training programme is thorough. Instead we look for strong communications skills, drive, ambition and a passion for high quality service.
We absolutely do not want a ‘man in a van’ and unless candidates demonstrate that they can grow to a multi van operation then we direct them to one of the other Smart Repair franchises on offer. I believe that the people who come to Revive! do so because they want to grow a business and know that our large exclusive territories and ongoing support gives them the opportunity to do this.
The first stage of their business is a supported launch where we introduce them to car dealers, our fleet customers and other Revive! contacts in their territory such as National Tyres and Autocare branches. Once they get their first van approaching capacity we have a structured programme and a dedicated Business Development Manager who will work with them to take them through the next step of employing someone. All territories are large enough to run at least 3 vans and we proactively encourage our franchisees to tap in to the market to take full advantage of this potential.
We don’t yet have any female franchisees but there is no reason why a woman couldn’t do this and I really do believe a female franchisee would do very well at this and have the car dealers eating out their hands! What are your aspirations for the Revive! business? We want to grow our network in the UK to 140 franchisees each operating an average of 3 vans to give us a total network of around 435 vans. That way we will have the largest fleet of any Smart Repair provider in the UK whilst at the same time keeping our franchisee network to a manageable number to retain the team ‘family’ feel we currently have. After that we may take our concept abroad.
Find an industry that suits you and that you are excited about working in. Research all of the options of entering that industry. Do your due diligence thoroughly and don’t blindly believe everything you are told without factual evidence to support it and then when you have made your choice – go for it! It’s certainly the best thing I have ever done.
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