Just Shutters Surrey Case Study
- Name: Simon & Georgina Broadhurst
- Location: Surrey
- Franchise: Just Shutters
- Date launched the franchise: 17th March 2017
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying a franchise business?
Simon was made redundant twice in quick succession. He was already disillusioned with the London media landscape, so we decided to make a wholesale lifestyle change. For Simon to get out of the rat race and grab a better work life balance. Be more flexible and present for our young family. Initially Gina stayed in the Corporate world but after the first year of trading also made the leap to join the family business.
Can you also tell us about the franchise you have bought?
Just Shutters is the largest independent shutter specialist in the UK. A family owned brand with great customer service and premium products at its heart. We own and operate the Surrey Franchise.
Why did you go down the franchise route? What made you choose your industry? And why did you choose your franchise?
We wanted a Franchise due to the positive statistics around success rates versus independent start-ups. We felt there would be less risk and infinitely more support. We researched online, looked at the BFA website, read a Franchising Magazine that Gina stumbled across in her office reception area. We searched by budget available, location and sector. Just Shutters popped up and it fitted our available budget and our local area was for sale. Shutters was a product that we could be passionate about as we love design and Interiors. It fitted Simon’s skill set as he is practical and enjoys working with his hands and DIY. We researched and established that the shutter category is a fast-growing market and we were sure it would be very appealing to our local area. We liked what we heard at the initial meeting; we bought into the brand and the way Chris spoke about his aspirations for the company. We especially liked the level of support available through Sales Support and it set Just Shutters apart from other Franchise opportunities on the market.
How did you raise the finance?
We used Gina’s life savings to purchase the franchise and Simon took a small start up loan to provide working capital.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
Simon did the initial training. The team were all very accommodating and helpful. Even down to the master fitter from Dorset coming out with Simon on his first few fits. Then when Gina joined the business, she also visited the team in Dorset and did some further training in product knowledge and the back-office products.
How would you describe your day-to-day role as a franchisee?
It is busy but rewarding. When Simon was running the business single-handedly the days became long, but it was very satisfying doing the job beginning to end. Having the satisfaction of a job well done and the 5-star customer reviews and recommendations. Now we are a team (including our two Fitters) we can carve out clear roles for each person and divide the workload to grow the business.
What challenges have you faced?
Rapid growth – In Year 1, if Simon was fitting shutters, he could not be selling shutters, as time moved on there was a chance that we were going to grind to a halt, so we needed to create more capacity. In the space of 18 months we moved from being a one-man business run solely by Simon to a company actively run by its two Directors and with an Employee. We have learned that you need to be brave and take calculated risks, have the vision to spot potential problems and mitigate them well in advance. The recruitment and training process took time so if we had waited until the recruitment need was urgent, we would have seriously handicapped our business.
Sticking to your budget – we regularly review our budget and reconcile against actual performance so we can identify any over/under spend. It is crucial that we cut costs when necessary but also release more funds into the budget if we over perform.
Marketing ROI – it can be counter-intuitive, but we have learned to spend on Marketing even when there is a dip in revenue. We are a relatively new business and we need to build brand awareness and visibility in the local market, though Marketing can be viewed as a cost to a business, we have concluded that it is an important investment. That said, we regularly review the ROI on our Marketing activities, channel by channel, and if something isn’t working, we cut if off the plan. Equally if it is bearing fruit, we will release more funds to expand this channel.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Absolutely it has changed our lives. We no longer commute to London nor use childcare for our children before and after school. We have more flexibility to see those all-important assemblies and school plays whenever they come up. We are building something for ourselves and have the satisfaction of employing two people. We work hard but feel proud of our achievements and a greater sense that we are the masters of our own destiny. We won Best Home Improvement Provider in the Essential Surrey Awards 2019 which is something we are immensely proud of.
What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?
Do your research, be realistic with your business plan and ensure you have enough working capital to get up and running. If you believe in what you are doing – be brave.
In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
Someone who is committed, hard-working, buys into the master brand, is prepared to take controlled risks, has a sense of humour and is a team player.
What are your plans for the future?
- Become the No 1 choice for shutters in Surrey.
- Continue to grow the business with higher turnover and consistent margin.
- Increase our conversion rate and average order value.
- Drive growth though more commercial work and higher levels of affiliate partnerships.
- Hit £1 Million turnover by Y5.
If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?
Be braver. Take on a part time Fitter earlier in the process. Define the role of the Sales Manager, someone in the office to chase up quotes and speak to customer’s every day, put this into action earlier on. Put simply, accept this can be a one-man business but to deliver our ambitious growth plans this was not the best option for us.
If you would like to find out more about becoming a franchisee with Just Shutters, Click Here to find out more.