Richard Elliott Drain Doctor Derby Grey Background

Ex-serviceman Joins Drain Doctor

As an ex-squaddie, my life makes sense when there are systems, processes and checks in place to ensure the best results are achieved. Franchising gives me these things as a turnkey solution and so help shorten my route to success, by not having to build these systems, processes and checks myself.

Richard Elliott

Drain Doctor Derby

Name: Richard Elliott
Franchise Area: Derby
Year business started: 2023
Members of Staff: 3

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying a franchise business?

I’m proud to have served in the British Army for over 13 years, completing several tours including Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq. During my time I completed a number of promotion courses and spent time in various posts. Spending my final 2 years training the future of the British army at the infantry training centre in the role has Pl Sgt.
After serving my country for over 13 years, I spent the next 10 in Security (mostly of Oil Rigs and Fields) in the Middle East, progressing from a team leader to a project manager directly responsible for over 750 multi-national staff.

Can you also tell us about the franchise you have bought?

Drain Doctor is the UK’s leading emergency drainage and plumbing franchise. With a 5 star Trust Pilot score we are the leading authority in delivering world class customer experience in this field. We deliver works that range from one time only domestic unblocking to Local Government Authority service frameworks and everything in between.

Why did you go down the franchise route? What made you choose your industry? And why did you choose your franchise?
As an ex-squaddie, my life makes sense when there are systems, processes and checks in place to ensure the best results are achieved. Franchising gives me these things as a turnkey solution and so help shorten my route to success, by not having to build these systems, processes and checks myself.

After all things Brexit and COVID-19, I was on the lookout for a truly recession-proof business model for me to operate within. The drainage and plumbing industry was one that I saw a constant demand for. Generally, the works we do aren’t a ‘considered purchase’ they are a necessity and so the economic or political climate has less effect on the demand for our work. My thoughts were validated when I understood the fact that Drain Doctor’s network turnover only shrunk by 12% in 2020, and 2021 saw the whole network bounce back with tremendous 25% growth delivering a record year in their 27 year history.

I ultimately chose Drain Doctor, because the premium brand and focus on great customer service really resonated with me. And once I spent some more time really looking at the model and systems already in place, then speaking with like-minded people who had already taken the jump and were now growing their business and reaping the rewards, I couldn’t wait to get started.

How did you raise the finance?

Drain Doctor are approved partners with a number of high street lenders and brokers.

I specifically worked alongside Natwest, and Drain Doctor assisted with an internal franchise fee structure programme, to free up working capital for me in the crucial early months of operation.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

From the time I signed the Franchise Agreement in February 2022, to launching in May. Drain Doctor have been by my side. My business development manager has worked with me to get everything ready for launching my business with the best start possible. From van and equipment procurement to website development and pre-launch marketing, they’ve worked with me to complete every task necessary. They are there to help guide, support, but ultimately hold me accountable for getting it done.

During the past 12 weeks, I’ve also undertaken a 5 day residential business training course at Drain Doctor’s National Training Centre in Brackley where I learned all about the systems, software, marketing and operation of the business.

That was the followed up with a 5 day Technical Training period, again held in Brackley, Drain Doctor trained me (and my initially employed staff members) on the basics of the industry. We walked away with 3 industry recognised certified ‘tickets’ to ensure that we didn’t only meet, but exceeded industry regulations.

How would you describe your day-to-day role as a franchisee?

Varied is probably the best word to describe it, no day is the same. There are some days that I’m in the office writing CCTV reports and taking calls, others where I need to be out onsite lending my team a hand or simply quality controlling our service to our customers. But my main role is to grow the business, so I have structured time to prospect with local companies, follow up on leads and deliver after care calls to commercial customers who we’ve already recently serviced.

Provide information on challenges overcome as well as your key successes to date. Please also detail the steps you have taken to manage the business during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The biggest hurdle so far is managing my own time and learning to be more decisive. On occasion, I have found myself overthinking the smallest of things. In the military, I was taught that it’s better to do something than nothing at all. This along with the fact I can pick up the phone to my BDM and/or any of the network of franchisees massively helps to alleviate concerns and helps me to act fast with confidence.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?

Yes, simply put I now get to sleep in my bed every night and see my children every day, something that’s hard to do when your working in Iraq 8 months a year.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

Throughout my life, I am that used to working long hours that sometimes I lose track of time and get totally engrossed in finishing some paperwork/ quote etc but being in the UK and a few miles away from my home it’s so easy to pop back for lunch, or to feed the dog. It also helps that being my own boss I can manage the workload and plan ahead in order to spend time with my young family.

If you are a multi-unit franchisee, can you tell us why your franchise is ideal for those looking for a scalable opportunity? (including how the progression was made from single to multi-unit, benefits of being a multi-unit etc)

How do you retain your best staff and keep morale high and productive; how do you incentivise your staff and recognise success?

It’s very important to have weekly meetings with staff and set goals and targets. I have always believed you must know the people that work for you, everyone is different they have different goals and aspirations. One of the first things I asked my new engineers was what they wanted and expected from me, in all honesty, they seemed surprised, but I lead to serve and believe this is the best way to get the most from employees. I want my staff to succeed, and I hope that I can help along the way.

Can you tell us about any community involvement, including any local partnerships, incentives or charity work you are involved in?

We are part of the armed forces covenant and hoping to engage more in the future and are keen to get involved locally.
We have also carried out some work for a local horse-riding school for disabled children and we are always on hand to ensure that the school remains running and are always here to support them.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?

Don’t listen to the naysayers, there will be people (they may be family and close friends) who will discourage you from doing this. If you truly believe in yourself, find the right business to partner with for you, and go for it.
Work hard and stay focussed.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

There are so many different franchisees from so many different walks of life within the network. I think one thing most common traits is willingness. Willingness to listen, to learn and to evolve. That and positivity and a desire to succeed.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to keep learning, evolving and ultimately growing. I would like to move to three vans at the end of this year or early next year. Growth is one of the main reasons I joined the network. I am excited to see how much I can grow the business over the next ten years.

If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?

It’s still early days and in all honesty, I tend not to dwell on the past. I cannot change it, but I can learn from it and shape the future. We will always make mistakes or reflect and see that we could have done something better in hindsight. But ultimately, it’s all about progression I just try to be a bit better than yesterday.