Ex-soldier finds structure and success with Snap-on
As a child, Steve Murray wanted just one thing: to be a soldier.
Despite a rocky academic start, Steve achieved just that and spent 12 years literally living his dream. With the birth of his first daughter, Steve took the difficult decision to leave the armed forces and despite finding joy in his new family, he struggled to adapt to civilian life. Now, ten years later, Steve has once again found the professional success and structure he craved. This time, as a Snap-on franchisee.
“The best thing about being a Snap-on franchisee is the earning potential. I’ve put away enough money to put both of my daughters through university and I’ve even managed to buy my dream car. Yes, I work hard, but I make sure I enjoy my down time with my mates and I always prioritise the gym. What’s the point in earning so much if I can’t enjoy if from time to time?”
Like many others, Steve admits he wasn’t particularly academic during his teens and left school at 16 with just a handful of GCSE’s. But it was enough to secure a place at Army Apprentice College. He aspired to serve overseas and thanks to his natural work-ethic and sheer determination to succeed, he worked his way up through the ranks to Regimental Sergeant Major.
“I didn’t enjoy school. All I ever wanted was to be a soldier, so being accepted into Army Apprentice College was an important time for me and I made a real effort to succeed. I passed out as Regimental Sergeant Major in 1993 and served for six years in Germany. I did a tour of Bosnia before being stationed in Colchester, then moved on to Aldershot and served two more tours of Bosnia and one tour of Kosovo during the Gulf War. Being a soldier was hard work but I was born to do it. I can’t say it was all fun and games but I’ve been to some incredible places and I’ve made mates for life. I achieved a lot during those twelve years.”
Steve left the forces in 2004, just in time for the birth of his beautiful daughter, Katie. But it wasn’t to be plain sailing. Looking back, Steve says he didn’t plan well enough for life on Civvy Street – he’d been so determined not to fall into unemployment, he took the first job he could find which didn’t suit this long-time soldier well.
“I missed the routine of being in the army and I didn’t want to get sucked into unemployment, like so many ex-forces guys are. I jumped head first into work, which in hindsight was a big mistake; I ended up spending only one month as a bin man. I hated that job almost as much as I hated the next one – six months as a long-distance lorry driver. I was so bored!”
It wasn’t long before along came second daughter, Jessica, and Steve knew something had to change: “I knew I needed to put more effort into my career, instead of just settling for the next opportunity. So many guys who leave the armed forces fall into the same trap that I had; they fail to plan for their resettlement and take the first job going. I was frustrated with the lack of direction and I knew I had to take a different route.”
Now working as a Heavy Goods Mechanic, it was during one particularly cold night shift in the workshop (-9!), that Steve saw an online advert for Snap-on and experienced the light-bulb moment which would ultimately change his life: “Seeing that advert couldn’t have come at a better time. I didn’t realise how unhappy I was until I saw it. At the end of the day, I was lining someone else’s pocket. I’d never really thought about being my own boss – that pop-up advert was a real moment of realisation for me.”
Snap-on is the world’s number one professional tool brand. They are the leading global manufacturer and distributor of tools for the professional technician. Franchisees deliver gold-standard, premium products to technicians up and down the country. Their fantastic business opportunity offers you the chance to be your own boss whilst being supported by an elite team of industry specialists.
With a string of unhappy roles behind him, Steve had to be sure that owning a Snap-on franchise was right for him. His in-depth research included speaking with the team at the Snap-on headquarters in Kettering and going on van rides with existing franchisees. Steve really enjoyed the sale-orientated atmosphere and the banter between franchisees and their customers reminded him of his army days. Now confident in his decision, Steve signed his franchise agreement and joined the Snap-on ranks. Next up: training!
Snap-on training starts with a week in Dallas in the US. Afterwards, new recruits are welcomed into the Snap-on family at the UK head office in Kettering. Here, new franchisees meet the staff who will support them on a daily basis and collect their very own custom-built mobile store! Training continues with a full week of on-van support out in the field. New franchisees are paired with a dedicated franchise developer for the first 12 months who spends another 12 days on the road offering one-to-one support within the first five weeks.
“The training in Dallas was great, but it was very intense. I’m not complaining though, all those years as a soldier taught me to work hard and respond well to structure. You’re literally in a classroom all day and you learn so much. It’s not just about the tools, it’s about good business knowledge and covering all your bases. I don’t think I appreciated how much I had learnt until I was actually out on the road.”
Selling to a regular route of customer came naturally to Steve and with the support of the team at the head office in Kettering, his thriving territory in Worcester went from strength to strength. Within 16 months, he had comfortably paid back his start-up loan and was earning more than enough to support his young family.
Snap-on understands that it’s only ever going to be successful if its franchisees are! That’s why they continue to invest millions in a global support programme that already boasts a staff ratio of 2:1 for every franchisee.
From sales and marketing to product and technical knowledge; this programme is designed to help every franchisee build a profitable business. Steve even goes as far to say that the team at head office are so good at what they do, they can recognise potential problems in your franchise before you do. Support at this level is invaluable, especially if starting a Snap-on franchise is your first experience of running a business.
After four years, Steve’s Worcester territory had grown to a multi-van operation and an increase in sales saw him enjoying the perks of financial freedom. At this point, Steve had developed a nest-egg big enough to warrant a year out of the business and a relocation.
“Selling my Snap-on business was the right thing to do at that time. I had more than enough in savings to support myself and so I made the decision to move back to North Shields. I spent a year out of work in the end but I missed the business! It was a chance conversation about Snap-on in a local garage which made me think about getting back into the franchise again. I found out that the North Shields territory was available and the temptation of that routine and consistent earnings was too strong to ignore. So, I called the team at head office and they asked if I wanted to be a franchisee again… I said yes!”
Steve knew that his previous success would be easily replicated in another territory and before he knew it, he was back in Dallas for another week of training. Repeating the course was an incredible opportunity for Steve to improve upon his knowledge from four years previously and for the second time, he couldn’t wait to get out on the road with his customers!
“My customers are the reason I do this job. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no real limit to earning potential and I can choose my own hours but I work hard. Most days I’m on the road by 7.30am and I might not stop until 8pm but I do it because I enjoy it so much. I’d recommend being a Snap-on franchisee to anyone who is thinking of leaving the forces. Being your own boss is great but it’s even better that there is a whole support team just a phone call away. If you work hard, follow the model and you enjoy being around people, then you’ll be successful with Snap-on.”
As ambitious as ever, Steve is keen to share his experience and knowledge with others by exploring management opportunities within Snap-on.
“Snap-on has made such a positive impact on my life. My children are well set up for their future and it would be great to give back to the network. Being my own boss has been a real learning curve for me and my success is down to hard work and being a real people person. Snap-on provides a huge support system and is a great opportunity for anyone leaving the forces who would like another chance at a profitable and worthwhile career.”
Want to follow in Steve’s footsteps? Text FRANCHISE to 07786 201 770 or visit www.snaponfranchise.co.uk to find out more about the Snap-on franchise opportunity.