Making your franchise work for you

Over the 25 years of his employed life, Matthew Bird had developed a severe aversion to meetings. The Granite Transformations franchise has allowed him to develop his role within his business to something that works for him – less meetings and more greetings.

“I trained as a Chartered Accountant and spent most of my working life in finance in the construction and contracting sectors. The peak of my career was as a financial director of a large £70 million turnover engineering firm and I’d really become sick to death of all the meetings! So, I decided not to stay working in the finance profession and dreamed of my own business.

“I was on the lookout for existing businesses to buy because I knew it would be difficult to start something from scratch and, during my online research, I saw a banner advertisement on for Granite Transformations. It caught my eye because we’d recently had our kitchen worktops from them so I clicked on the ad and requested more information about the business for sale. 

“Dug Aylen at Granite Transformations gave me a call to follow up my enquiry. The ad had been for the sale of an existing franchise in Bristol but, as our conversation progressed and I met with Danny Hanlon, the Chief Operating Officer for Europe & North America, I decided to set up a new franchise based in Cheltenham. I spent the day at Granite Transformations HQ and visited a nearby garden centre showroom before we made the final decision that I was a suitable franchisee and they were the right business choice for me.

“I completed my initial training at HQ and launched my business in April 2013. I had some more training on site and it was really helpful watching my factory and showroom fit out. Just 5 weeks after I had taken possession of my 5,000 sq ft premises in a trading estate in Cheltenham, we were out completing customer contracts.”

Granite Transformations uses top quality materials and good honest craftsmanship to transform kitchen, bathroom or other living areas, often in just one day. There’s the extra bonus that work is carried out without mess, fuss or unnecessary waste, at a fraction of the cost of totally new installations. Customers keep their familiar room layout, saving on extensive rewiring, replumbing and demolition, while Granite Transformations refaces countertops, tiles and cabinets with gorgeous new surfaces. 

“Granite Transformations is well known for our ‘top that fits on top’ for kitchen work surfaces but I wanted to embrace the full extent of what the business can offer our customers. We have generated significant turnover from bathroom solutions too. Bathroom refurbishment can be more tricky than kitchen renovations so I set up my team to be able to mitigate the risks associated with bathroom jobs. One of my fitters is a competent plumber and one of my sales consultants has experience of designing and selling bathrooms.

“6 months after we launched the business, I took over the Bristol territory with a 2,000 sq ft showroom in Bristol and an 800 sq ft showroom in a large garden centre just outside of the city. I employ 13 full-time equivalent staff – 3 fitters, a templater, 2 fabricators, a fabrication manager, 2 sales consultants, 2 showroom hosts and 2 part-time garden centre showroom hosts. One of the important things for me was not to be stuck in an office all day and spend as little time as possible in meetings. I deliberately wanted to create a sizable business where I didn’t have a defined day-to-day job.”

A Granite Transformations franchise gives you the chance to run a business enterprise from sales and design consultation, through measuring up and manufacturing, to installation and customer service. Few other franchises give you quite the same opportunity to handle complete projects from beginning to end, meet with customers in their own homes, and take such pride in the quality of each job and the genuine pleasure it brings. And none involve the distinctive makeover products you’ll find with Granite Transformations.

“I have developed my franchise business so that I get out and about. I see the fitters and templater out on site at least once a week and this makes them feel like part of the team even when they spend most of their time out with customers. This also gives me a chance to speak to our customers as I don’t deal with them during the sales process. One of the things I like to do is pick up the slabs from HQ in Tunbridge Wells because I rarely use the ongoing support available and so that keeps us in regular contact. 

“The business is on target with the initial plans I set out and our largest expense has been the premises we have taken on which I knew would impact on profits initially. In our first full year of trading we reached £1.2 million turnover with £85k operating profit with our second full year hitting £1.35 million turnover and £100k operating profit. We’re still a relatively immature business but I’d like to grow big enough to get someone in to take on my role of gelling the business and the team together. The Granite Transformations franchise has helped me to get out of the dreary career I once had and, in the future, I’ll be able to spend less time in the business whilst it still provides a good income for me and my family.”