“It ticked too many boxes for me not to take the opportunity”

Martyn Cornall had spent his whole career in the motor trade, but after problems with his hands he needed to find something new that used his considerable skills. A chance conversation with his Mac dealer was to prove pivotal...

“I got diagnosed with arthritis in my thumb joints, so I needed to get off the tools at least,” he says. “I was offered an office-based role but I’m not a desk kind of guy! As a tech all my life, I knew about tools more than anything.

“One day my Mac man came in and asked why I was down, I told him about my thumbs. He asked me to come out on a van ride with him, and I thought OK, if I like it, I can look into the franchise.

“And I loved it, it was brilliant! It ticked too many boxes for me not to take the opportunity to do it myself. I went through the process of becoming a franchisee and here I am now running my own business. It all fell into place nicely.”

From employee to franchisee

It was no small decision for Martyn to make the move into self-employment with Mac.

He says: “Although I knew I had to do something different, I’ve been employed for the last 27 years, so starting a business was a big jump for me. But it was a calculated risk and so far, it’s been good.

“The help and guidance Mac gives to you is so good, they explain the working capital when you start, the business model that they explain to you really helped my decision-making process. It’s not a case of stocking a shop and waiting for people to come in – you’re going out to your customers and delivering a service they need to them in their workplace.

“I knew in my head I could make a good go of it, and once I started looking into the support they give you and the business model and business plan, when I started breaking that down I knew it was doable. I know how much tools cost and how much I’d need to sell and I knew I could achieve it.”

He adds that the personal touch was important in making the transition, and backed up everything he was told in the process of becoming a franchisee.

“John, who’s my regional franchise manager, has been brilliant,” says Martyn. “He was with me the first week and a half, and is always at the end of the phone. I’ve rung him over what are big issues to me, but to him they’re just minor to him because he’s seen them so often – ‘Don’t worry about that, just do this’!

“You’re out there on your own and it’s your own business, but there’s somebody there at the end of a phone – even if it’s just a sanity check that you’re doing something right, it’s such a reassurance knowing that you’re going to get questions you might not know the answer to, but in 5 minutes you’ve got the answer that you need.”

Seeing the theory in practice

All prospective franchisees go on van rides with existing Mac dealers so that they can really see the business in action. That proved to be a real eye-opener for Martyn.

“My biggest concern was, is there enough people out there buying enough tools on a regular basis to sustain my business?” he says. “The two van rides I went on completely smashed that concern out of the water!

“On the second van ride, the franchisee admitted that he’d had a really good day – but that it wasn’t uncommon to have a day like that. I knew I wasn’t going to hit the ground like that from day one, you’ve got to build those relationships with the customers, but the opportunity’s there.

“It convinced me that it was the right thing to do. It’s alright someone telling you on a piece of paper, ‘This is what you need to do to make money’. Well yes, I can read a spreadsheet and get my head round that. But to see it in practice with a guy in a van, in real life, you can physically see them turning those numbers. It gave me the evidence that this was the right thing to do.”

Quickfire Q&A

Key skills to succeed as a Mac franchisee?

You need to be a people person, you need to be able to talk to them. People buy from people. You’ve got to be on their wavelength and you’ve got to be adaptable as well – some people want to be your mate, some people want a professional attitude, some people want to be grumpy as hell! You’ve got to wear every cap in the customer service world. But as long as you can talk to people you’ll be OK. If you get good service from someone, you’ll go back and buy more from them.

Highlight of your business so far?

There’s been quite a few to be honest – all of it really! I’m really enjoying it. The first week you break even is a very nice feeling, paying money into the bank. Also, meeting a lot of new people and getting a good reception from the guys you’re going to see. There’s so much information online now, you don’t necessarily have to sell the product, they’ve already decided they want it. People want the reassurance that you’re the right person to buy it from.

Most exciting sale you’ve made?

Every sale’s a good sale to me, a highlight. It means I’ve met someone’s expectation, whether it’s a spanner or a diagnostic machine. It’s a pleasure purchase – they buy it because they want it. If I’ve made someone happy because they’re happy with what they’ve purchased, then I’m happy too!

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