Nathan Crombie & Wai Lam – Prokil BrightonMatt
Myself (Nathan Crombie) and Wai both come from retail industry back grounds and have previously been retail store managers for ten years plus. Wai was a store manager for Curry’s, Argos, Iceland and a Department head of World Duty Free at Gatwick Airport. I have been store manager for Sainsbury’s, Iceland, Superdrug and first assistance at McDonald’s.
Why were you looking at self-employment?
After many years of being managers and following the strict regime and adhering to the corporate world, we wanted to venture in to a business where we could make the decisions and take control of our own destiny. The challenge of running our own business and not being held back and working for someone else was a goal that took too long to achieve.
We wanted to be able to set our own targets, be in control of our own destiny and achieve the aspirationswe so longed and desired to reach.
Why did you choose to look at a franchise?
With the option of a franchise, we believed this gave us the strong footing to move into an industry without the background knowledge or experience. The franchise allowed us to have the confidence to venture in to self-employment and take the huge step, knowing there was the support, structure and guidance for us to latch on to at any point.
Having the support network, people there to offer and share ideas was the major incentive to go down the franchise route. As we did not have the building back ground, going into an unknown territory for us, looking at franchises made sense and would enable us to build a successful business, with a strong brand name and years of experience.
What was it about Prokil in particular that made you want to join them?
After an initial conversation regarding the business structure, Prokil ticked a lot of the boxes we were looking for. A business that had a proven track record, passionate owners and a successful brand in their current regions, all wrapped up in a business that had huge profit potential.
The growth and profit margins in this business were the main factors which made this more appealing as we ventured further in to the viability and validity of the business. After speaking with Carlo (MD of Prokil) in particular, the passion behind his ambition and drive to make the franchise a success, gave us the confidence that the support network would be in place and their ambitions matched exactly what we were looking for.
How was the research process in looking at Prokil, what did you need to do?
We had a few informal conversations in the first instance and this then led to more formal business meetings and sharing some financial figures to back up what was being told to us. With each conversation and meeting, this led us further to the belief that this would work and would be a business and franchise worth investing in.
We had a couple of trips down to the Bournemouth office to meet the team, directors and franchise manager Alex. It was at these meeting we discussed how they would see the franchise working, what they expected from us and in turn, what we would want from them. After exploring the business model and plan they had in place and looking at the projections and profitability of the model, it reinforced what had been discussed in the early days.
Having a look at the office set up, also reassured us that there were people in place to support, guide and share ideas with in the early days to get the business up and running.
Once you became a franchisee, how was the training?
The training that was carried out with our surveyor was very beneficial and the feedback from this was positive. The ways of working, knowledge, exposure to what the job would entail was very pragmatic and provided him with the skills and knowledge to transfer this in to our own franchise.
How have the first few months been?
We have had a very successful few months and in essence we have achieved more than we expected and the business is developing and growing in a way that has exceeded our expectations. We have found a consistent customer base and built good relationships with local business and forged excellent connections and referrals to support our growth and provide a stable platform to build for the long term.
Structuring the business in a manner which delivers what we envisioned has been key, in growing in the right way and delivering a consistent service level to reinforce everything we want to achieve.
What has the support from the franchisor been like?
The support has been what we expected and has never fallen short of what was discussed in the early meetings. As mentioned, the passion shown in ensuring the success of our franchise has not fallen away and this has helped us achieve what we have so far.
There are learnings from all parties as we are the first franchisees and I believe the structure and relationships between the franchise and franchisor will change and adapt with the growth of our business and expansion on the franchise network.
The motivation, support, passion and belief from the franchisors is there and it is building a structure for expansion and growth of the franchise network which needs establishing as the branches grow.
What advice would you give other people looking at franchising and Prokil?
It is a very viable business and one with excellent growth potential, margin, profit and expansion in to other areas. We have not looked back since joining the Prokil network and I would encourage others to explore this further.
As with any business, having a clear structure from day one is integral and ensuring that the milestones and targets set are achievable is key. The business turnover can be unpredictable due to the nature of the work, with some larger jobs and then lots of smaller jobs, so having enough working capital and budgeting is key.
Grow the business in the right way, take time to find the right people to carry out the works and ensure jobs are completed right first time.
What plans do you have for the business in the future?
We want to continue to grow and have the come to business in Brighton for all the damp proofing needs. Being known for the workmanship, service, standard of work and overall customer satisfaction is what will drive our business.