Why Automotive Franchising is a Smart Fit for Former Military Personnel

Finding employment can be a challenge for many military personnel as they transition from active duty, yet hundreds of veterans have found success through franchising.

But it’s no surprise that so many ex-forces have taken the leap into automotive franchising, as there are so many transferable skills. 

Pat Badder, owner of ChipsAway Grantham discovered the skills he had obtained in the army could be transferred into running his own car body repair business. 

I joined the military in the 1970s, and completed tours in the First Gulf War, Northern Ireland and Bosnia. I was then commissioned into the Logistics Corps and did tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. I took redundancy in 2011 and moved straight into the Reserves where I did another eight years and finished up at the rank of Major.

I was into my last year of the Reserves when I happened to see a ChipsAway van drive past and was intrigued. The idea of working for myself was very attractive to me – and I also wanted to learn new skills and provide a service.

A ChipsAway franchise is tailor-made for Forces people because you follow processes. You must practice equipment care and you have got to be disciplined with the repair process. It’s then just a case of getting your repair time down, I often thought I don’t think I can make that any quicker. But sure enough, in month or two, the repair time goes down.

As well as equipment care and discipline, there are many more character attributes that can be transferred into running your own franchise business. 

Determination = Success
Being in the military requires determination and confidence to succeed, similarly, to running your own business. Determination is required to ensure a franchise business witnesses growth and profitability. Andy Darby used the determination skills he had obtained in the British Army to start his own successful ChipsAway franchise. 

I spent 11 years in the British Army prior to joining ChipsAway and all my skills and experience of running a business have been gained whilst operating my own franchise. 

Whilst I think my own standards and determination have been a driving force I have been learning on the job. Being a soldier gave me the skills to be successful and being a business owner has helped me realise that.  Over the last 21 years I have continued to learn by attending training courses run by ChipsAway and working with others in the industry to help improve my knowledge.

Executing a Plan
Although a franchise owner receives a proven business model and ongoing business support from the franchisor, executing the plan is the down to the franchisee. Developing a working business model requires an entrepreneurial approach similar to the military training veterans receive. 

ChipsAway franchise owner, Andy Darby used his past experiences in the military to expand and develop his mobile car body repair business into a multi-van and fixed based centre operation. 

“I started operating in 2000 from a single van working around St Neots, Cambridgeshire and quickly became busy and profitable, so much so that I put another van and technician on the road within a couple of years. This continued and I invested in another van and technician a couple of years later. Currently I operate two vans, a Car Care Centre and an accident repair bodyshop.”

After running a successful ChipsAway franchise for over 20 years, Andy now mentors’ new franchises within the ChipsAway network. 

I have been fortunate enough to have been involved with mentoring new start-ups for several years. Typically, this will involve spending time with them offering tips and advice on everything to do with their new business, from Facebook ideas, local marketing to offering advice on repairs that they have not done before (and how to rectify ones that didn’t go quite according to plan!). 

I am permanently available to chat any time or day of the week about anything they want, not just business related. It is an aspect of my day that I enjoy as I can see I can make a difference sometimes by just offering words of encouragement. I am still as passionate about the business and ChipsAway as a whole and am always happy to help a neighbour if they are stuck or Head office if they want some feedback on a new piece of kit or product.

Adapting to Change
Typically, military personnel are trained to be adaptive to change, in the forces, everything can change in an instant. So, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, Andy had to quickly adapt his ChipsAway business to reduce outgoings and make customer safety a priority. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic I have had to put extra safety measures in place and closely monitor my expenditure. I have kept outgoings to a minimum and looked at offering discounts and extra services to ensure we booked work in.  With the easing of restrictions, we have been able to enjoy a certain amount of normality again.

Military Personnel to Car Body Repair Technician in 4 Weeks
By joining ChipsAway you get to benefit from our excellent reputation and training programs. Our training programs are designed to not only give you the practical skills you need to repair car paintwork damage, but also to help you hit the ground running with sales and marketing.

As part of the ChipsAway package, all new ChipsAway franchisees spend an initial 4 weeks on IMI accredited technical training to learn the repair process, they are also mentored on a one-to-one basis by experienced franchisees. The initial course is then followed up 3 months later by a further week of more in-depth dent repair techniques. 

Pat comments; “Once I’d decided to commit, I undertook the training, which was excellent. At the end of it, I felt confident and supported to get out into the field and begin work.” 

National Marketing Campaign
The ChipsAway franchise package not only includes business mentoring from an experienced franchisee and ongoing franchise development from a dedicated team, but also full marketing and advertising support including national TV and digital campaigns generating an average of 1,000+ leads per franchisee in 2020.

ChipsAway has promoted the business very well online and with TV adverts over the last few years and this has led to an uptake in business leaving us able to get on with the repairs.” – Andy Darby, ChipsAway. 

Making a Career Change into Franchising
In most cases, investing in a franchise can be the perfect choice for veterans. The highly transferable skills that ex-military personnel possess are a great match for franchising, and the training, network community, unlimited support and opportunity to lead has helped many ex-forces personnel create fantastic businesses of their own with ChipsAway. 

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