• Sep 30, 2015
  • British Franchise Association
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Finalists Focus: Customer Service Franchisee of the Year 2015

The dedication to do whatever’s necessary to create a great customer experience is one of the skills required to drive a business to its optimum levels; for a business owner to instil an ethos in their team to match their service quality is no easy task.

0690 bfa Franchisee OLDER Logo (P)As it always has done though, this category highlighted some exceptional practices and results. Four businesses that truly walk the walk, proving it with satisfaction metrics as well as their performance, stood out to reach this stage. They’ve already all award winners, so this is going to be a competitive one…

Nic Chaviaris, Driver Hire Gatwick

Nic moved to the UK aged 15 in 1997, unable to speak a word of English.

He’s now the owner of a business that will turnover well in excess of £1.5m this year and provides work for 80 people a week. He’s also Driver Hire’s current Franchisee of the Year.

After learning the language and graduating from university, Nic began a career in recruitment in 2005. Joining Driver Hire two years later, in 2010 he became joint venture director before buying the franchise outright in 2013. He increased turnover almost 70% last year and is on target to double that record again in 2015/16.

DriverHire_RTNic’s built his success on the strength of his service and quality of his staff. He insists his close-knit team share his limitless passion for the business and incentivises them on customer testimonials as well as sales figures. Personality is the key – none of them have a recruitment background but together they’ve achieved record results.

He personally visits each of his clients on a regular basis to fully understand their needs, preparing action plans for the following six months to ensure an impressive continuity of client care and attention to detail. Despite the size of the business, he remains very hands-on, something appreciated by his customers. One well-known courier company is set to increase their business with him sixfold in two years thanks to Nic’s attention and service.

An innovative fee structure he introduced has been beneficial to both clients and drivers and adds further value to Nic’s offering.

But he’s far from satisfied – what’s next? “I won’t rest until I have the top turnover in the network!” he says. At his rate of growth, that may not be too far away.

Dyno_RTNoel Gallacher, Dyno Scotland

It’s fair to say former corporate man Noel took on quite a challenge when he invested in his franchise in summer 2012: previously managed by employed engineers scattered across the region, Noel took over a territory covering most of Scotland, from Glasgow to Inverness. It’s the same size as Belgium.

That’s over 500,000 households, many of them in rural areas, and his business completes more than 25,000 emergency plumbing jobs each year. It’s also a true 24/7/365 service, so achieving consistently high customer satisfaction is tricky to say the least.

To do so, Noel doubled the size of his team and demanded an absolute focus on quality service delivery, at the same time as expanding his range of services. That starts with his three-part recruitment process, one he’s extended from the brand standard and which includes a simulation of a visit to a customer’s home.

He insists on the highest professional standards, recognising that Dyno are usually seeing people at a stressful time, and instigated weekly team meetings to keep everyone informed and involved. That’s no small investment for a small business.

The results say Noel has succeeded in spades. He’s way, way ahead of targets on every metric used by Dyno and his own KPIs – including speed of response, remarkable given such a large and rural area. Customer feedback, net promoter score and first-time fix numbers are all impressively ahead of Dyno goals.

It’s no surprise that last year Noel’s business was recognised as both Dyno’s Health & Safety Champion and its Franchise of the Year. He’s hoping to make it a hat-trick.

HomeInstead_RTAmy & Philip Kennedy, Home Instead Senior Care Peterborough

Philip and Amy left behind careers in finance and procurement respectively in 2012, setting up their Home Instead franchise after experiencing relatives being unable to find the quality of homecare they needed.

The husband-and-wife team have since maximised their combined skills to create a thriving and award-winning business, with 70 caregivers supporting 100 clients per week. That staff-to-customer ratio is way above the norm in their industry but is typical of the couple’s approach to their business. It’s also why they place the strongest emphasis on the recruitment, training and well-being of their team.

Around 19 out of 20 applicants are rejected, such is the rigour with which they approach recruiting caregivers. A serious commitment is rewarded with excellent development – including City & Guilds Alzheimer’s training and interactive, group-based modules covering a multitude of topics.

One-hour minimum visits are in place, though in reality many clients receive more than that. Companionship is seen as important as care. And both clients and caregivers are regularly approached for their thoughts and feedback on the service. Scores from evaluation surveys showed every single client would recommend the service to others and other responses have led directly to business changes. Amy and Phil listen and act.

Alongside their business, Amy also sits on the board of two steering groups at Peterborough City Hospital and delivers talks raising awareness of dementia to local business and community groups. And she knows each of their 100 clients personally – and how they have their tea!

That level of attention is why, despite competition from 49 other care agencies in Peterborough, they’ve stood out. At last year’s Peterborough Business Awards they took home the accolade for customer service, a win they’ll be hoping to replicate next week.

O2_RTSteve Roberts, O2 North-West

Steve began his sales journey aged 16 working on Liverpool’s fruit and veg market. He’s used his service skills learned over his career since those days to become a successful franchisee with a multimillion-pound turnover and 16 O2 stores.

Since opening his first O2 store in 2006, Steve has grown his presence across the north-west, north-east and north Wales, now employing 176 staff. He prides his customer service success on adding value to every customer visit, something he instils in a loyal team.

Each of his 16 store managers have been promoted through the ranks and he recruits on personality as much as experience (one of his team in Bangor was previously a cockle picker!). He’s developed a sales structure to ensure customer service consistency and that his ethos runs throughout his businesses, while still allowing individuality to shine through.

Many of his teams have enrolled onto external training programmes including NVQs in customer service. As Steve says: “If customer experience is to be exceptional, then the people delivering it must be exceptional.”

Steve also enjoys supporting local organisations and has made being at the heart of the community one of his priorities. His charity work includes fundraising for Radio City Cash for Kids, Ranford’s 10k run and Zoe’s Place, amongst numerous others. His endeavours to make a difference extend far from his shop floors.

Perhaps the best endorsement of Steve’s customer service achievements come from his franchisor, with O2 having used one of his stores as a benchmark of excellence. He’s been the brand’s Franchisee of the Year four years in the past six. It’s been quite a journey from the market.

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