From customer to franchisee... with a helping hand along the way

Jatin Patel recently made the move into his own Mac Tools business, after finding inspiration in an unexpected place!

Jatin’s the latest starter to have learned the ropes with Watford franchisee Andy Milne, who has a history of supporting people to take control of their future with a franchise. We caught up with the pair on how their customer relationship developed into a whole new future for Jatin...

Jatin on Andy

Jatin had always worked in the motor trade. As a technician, he’d had different jobs, but hadn’t settled. His last job was to prove inspirational, leading to a chance sighting of a picture that took him in a new direction.

Jatin says: “I’d moved between jobs but hadn’t really enjoyed them. Andy was my Mac dealer when I was at Mercedes, I’ve known him for a few years now. I noticed a picture on his van about being your own boss, so I asked him about it. I liked what he said so I got in contact with Mac and met them at a franchise exhibition. It just went from there.

“I thought I’d do something totally different and change career rather than just getting another technician job. It’s not every day you get the opportunity to run your own business.”

And since hitting the road himself, Jatin says he appreciates the chance to pick Andy’s brains when he has a question.

“Now Andy is my neighbouring franchisee and he helps me out so much still, I know he’s always on the end of the phone when I need it. He’s been doing this for over 20 years, so there’s not much he hasn’t seen!”

People skills rule all

While he’s been learning plenty from Andy, Jatin’s been quick to make his own mark in his new business. He admits sales weren’t natural to him after his career spent in the garage rather than visiting them, but says Mac’s support has been a huge help.

He explains: “The area manager came out with me for two weeks, which is great. You’re walking into garages to introduce yourself for the first time and getting people to part with money, so having someone with you that’s done it all before is so good.

“For the first few garages I was nervous, but then you realise that most of the people are happy to see you. The reception has been very positive. After you get a few people talking to you, the nervousness goes and you get comfortable talking to them.

“By the second day I was feeling good about walking in on my own. I’m comfortable talking to people anyway, but it’s obviously a big step when you start out. It does take a while to get used to it, the routes, talking to customers and getting to know what they want you to do – and not do! I’m still learning but I’m really enjoying it.

“If you can talk to people, this is the perfect business. I’m not a natural salesman, but I talk to people and get to know what sort of stuff they want. Then when I have something on offer I make sure it’s on the van when I see them again. It’s all about the people skills.”

That strong start, with Andy’s help, leaves Jatin full of hope for the future.

“Financially especially, there’s much more potential to earn money than what I was doing before,” he says. “You’re only limited by yourself, you can work as hard as you want and the harder you work, the more money you make. You’re in complete control – before, I might do overtime but I wouldn’t necessarily get the rewards.

“My franchise lets me have more freedom over what I’m doing. I’m enjoying being my own boss.”

Andy on Jatin

For Andy, Jatin is simply the latest in a long line of people he’s helped to see the opportunities of a franchise – but you won’t find any sugar-coating from him when he’s helping people make such a life-changing decision.

He says: “I think I’ve bought through five franchisees in recent years, and a few more are considering it at the moment. I’ve been with Mac Tools for 24 years, so I have a lot of experience to share! I must be doing something right to have been in business so long.

“I tell them the ins and the outs, the good and the bad. It’s not a decision to make overnight. It’s a big step into the unknown for people who have only ever been employed in the past. I’ve seen pretty much everything, which is why I can tell them everything. It’s important that people are properly prepared.”

Jatin had certainly taken his time too – not that Andy had necessarily known how far along his thinking was...

Andy explains: “Jatin had been in a few garages I visit, we got on really well and chatted for quite a few months about the business. Then one day he got on the van and announced that he’d rung Mac to find out about doing it himself!

“I’ve been his mentor since then. He’s gone through the training with Mac, and there’s things he needs to learn now he’s out on the road. You’d normally learn those things through experience, but that’s where I’ve been able to help him out: what’s going to happen if he does this, or that. It gives new guys a real head start, it might take them a year of being on the road to learn what I can show them in a few months.”

Andy says he’s simply adding to what’s on offer when you become part of the Mac Tools family.

“Franchisees get a lot of backup from Mac. It’s a good franchise to be with. They’re professional in what they do, and there’s always help there which is so important. It’s not just about paying some money and being sent out on the road, there’s a lot of backup. And if they want to ask me something instead, I’m more than happy with that.”

Demonstrating his approach perfectly, Andy adds: “You have to be honest. If you’re not, people will resent you later on for not telling them something, and that can take their focus from their business. I always tell them that if they have a problem, they can get in touch. It’s good to have people around you that can help you sort things out.

“My business has given me more than I expected. You get out of it what you put into it, so if you want the big rewards you’ve got to be prepared to work hard at it. I think Jatin will do well.”

Mac Tools promotes peer-to-peer support across the franchise network. With regional meetings, twice-yearly tool fairs and a shared sense of passion and commitment, franchisees are encouraged to share their experiences. Many also like to speak on the phone regularly to discuss their business.

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