Russell Hudson, 38, became owner of Revive! West Lincs in 2006. He’d just spent ten years in the hospitality business, and fancied getting his hands dirty . . . .
I left college with an HND in hospitality and spent a few years in the pub business. Then I joined Crown Management Systems, producing retail computer software for the hospitality trade.
It was great money. But I was away from home a lot. And it was difficult to get time to devote to my hovercraft – I won the British Formula 503 Hovercrafting Championship in 2006.
I was 35 and decided I wanted to work for myself. I spent 18 months doing a lot of research on the internet and looking for something different. Franchising was the obvious thing. It was something I could be successful at quickly.
Choosing Revive! was a no-brainer – it fitted everything I wanted.
I’d always liked getting my hands dirty, and messing about with boys’ toys so the practical side of the business was perfect.
I had phone conversations with several companies, and Revive! seemed a decent organization. The MD Mark Llewellyn was a nice guy.
I liked the big territory they give their franchisees – a whole county, instead of three postcodes that you get with other companies. Revive! wanted their franchisees to build up a business based on five vans. Five years down the line I didn’t want to be a repair man in a van – I wanted to be managing a team.
The SMART repairs market is very competitive. But given my expertise with engines it was something I knew I could get good at very quickly.
The Revive! training was very good. I drove to Rugby every day for a month to learn how to paint. From day one I was working on real customers’ cars.
Then the company sent a more experienced franchisee to spend a week with me. We didn’t bill a great deal, but we did pick up a couple of accounts that I was able to build on.
I started in July. It was a funny month because I had a two-week holiday booked for the world hovercraft championships in August. But I’ve never been one to sit around and do nothing – the busier, the better.
Then in October my wife was made redundant so one salary disappeared – the pressure was on. Then she got pregnant. I had to make a go of it.
Becoming a franchisee for Revive! was a big commitment – I was kissing goodbye to a very nice salary. But last year I earned just as much as I’ve ever done.
In the first year business ticked along nicely. In the second year the business trebled. And last year, even in a recession, turnover was up 20 per cent on the previous year.
We now have three vans: I got the second in April 2007, and the third in March 2008. I hope to get two more next year. Then I’ll be able to take a more active role in the sales and management side.
But to be honest, it’s not about money. It’s about quality of life. And it’s 200 per cent better than it used to be. Not only am I my own boss, we’ve got a baby son, and I can get home in time to spend time with him in the evenings.
The business has to come first, but so long as things are running smoothly I can take time off for a social life.
The recession doesn’t seem to have had any effect. We’re not limited in terms of the people we can work with. Dealerships are still selling used cars. The public are more aware of what we do. Families are keeping their old cars for longer and getting them repaired. We’ve got national accounts with companies that do vehicle leasing like HSBC and Lex. That’s all pretty recession-proof.
It’s hard work. We can’t sit back and expect it to happen. But I’m not worried.
My dad gave me some plans for a racing hovercraft for Christmas when I was 15. We built it together and we’ve been involved ever since, both nationally and internationally.
In 2006 I won the British Formula 503 Hovercraft Championship which involved competing in about eight weekend events all over the UK. I’ve been ranked fifth in the world as well.
My hovercraft is a 50hp Moto. It does 50mph on the water – that’s pretty fast.
I’d definitely recommend Revive! They’ve got it right in terms of the package: a good team in head office, good training, and good support. They were brilliant when I had a few teething problems with staff.
I’d had 10 years in the corporate world before I joined Revive! and they are as professional as any other company I’ve worked with.
They’re a good bunch of people as well, which makes a difference. They have the interests of the franchisees at heart.
I can’t recall there being any low points since I started in 2006. If you do lose an account, there’s no point in dwelling on it - you just go out and get another one.
The high points have been when I’ve got another van. It’s physical evidence that the business is expanding.
I also won a Start-Up Award with Revive! for franchisee of the year, and the Revive! Franchisee of the year for 2007.
Do plenty of research. You need to know exactly what you want to get out of a franchise, and work out what the market is capable of. Then talk to all the franchisors you’re considering for at least half a day.
And don’t be afraid. It could be the best move you ever made.
Find out why Byron Lindsey took the plunge to join Revive! and what sparked his desire for a work and lifestyle change.
Ken Allison is an established franchisee who has been running his own Revive! business in Waltham Abbey for over five years.
Adam Smith and his girlfriend, Kim Richardson, set up Revive! Luton in 2008 and have developed the business with 5 vans, employing a team of four repair technicians.
Ashley Kelly, who lives in Yate, is launching his new business this month, Revive! Bristol
Huw James, owner of Revive! Reading didnâ€™t let the rain stop him from achieving his best trading performance to date
Revive! franchisee Adam Smith talks about how after he opened his business in September 2009 he now runs a four van fleet and has recently gained his Cosmetic Repair ATA.
Nathan Holmes, Revive! Cambridge, marked his own personal achievement by smashing the companyâ€™s national record for monthly sales!
AN officer who faces redundancy from the RAF after seven years service has decided to set up a brand new business serving the West Norfolk area repairing minor damage and scuffs on vehicles and alloy wheels.
In a complete change of career direction computer expert Adam McCaig has decided to set up his Revive! business in Slough.
Huw James decided to take a leap of faith and set up his own franchise, after working in procurement and logistics for over 15 years.
Find out what a typical day is like for a Revive! Franchisee - Mark Addison, Revive! Franchisee Doncaster
Paul Brimelow, 29, became owner of Revive! Crawley in 2008 at the beginning of the credit crunch. Heâ€™d just spent five years as an estate agent.
Byron Lindsay, 34, became owner of Revive! High Wycombe in 2008. Heâ€™d just spent ten years travelling the world in the commercial laundry business and decided it was time to put down some business roots closer to home.
Richard Williamson, the latest franchisee to join the Revive! Smart Repair Franchise provides a diary of what his first week was like as him as the boss of his very own automotive franchise.
Dan Normanton's journey from Revive! employee to Owner of the Year has seen him build a substantial business despite having no previous experience
Having worked with the Revive! team for a little time now, it is great to know that there is always someone at the end of the phone to help with technical support or just general advice of how to continue developing my business.
The fact that head office does the accounts and administration for me is really helpful. Also Revive! has a national website where I get a lot of my leads from.Dan Normanton
The Revive! Directors have many years experience in the Smart Repair sector and two of the Directors run their own highly successful Revive! franchises.
Revive are the first full member of the British Franchise Association in their industry sector.
Revive! are the first company in the Smart Repair sector to implement the use of Water Based paints ahead of legislation that will restrict the use of environmentally damaging solvent based paints.