How Access4Lofts began.
Access4Lofts was founded by Tim and Lindsay Brown in May 2005, Here’s their story…
We moved from Windsor to Devon in 2003. Starting our business was a lifestyle decision as we had both had very busy, professional careers in central London for 15 years (as a Corporate Sales Manager and a Marketing Manager).
The choice to ‘go it alone’ was not one we took lightly and we are very honest with anyone who asks that we were petrified of not having the comfort blanket of a guaranteed salary every month. But that guaranteed salary came at a price with Tim working away in London 4 days a week and me staying at home in Devon running my own magazine publishing business and looking after our daughter Emilie (who at that stage was only 3 years old).
The idea for starting Access4Lofts came about when we needed safe and easy access to our loft space. Despite searching for someone to install it for us, we found no one specifically offering a loft ladder installation service. Tim has always had a talent for DIY, so he decided to install the hatch and ladder himself. Visitors to our home were very impressed by Tim’s handiwork and asked him to install a ladder for them, it snowballed from there and the idea for running our own loft ladder installation business was born.
At this point, we looked around for a franchise opportunity, but nothing came of that. So, armed with my marketing skills and Tim’s DIY knowledge we decided to set up our own business. We would never deny that we made a lot of mistakes in the early years, wasting money on advertising that didn’t work and sometimes feeling like we were drowning under a sea of paperwork (that was before we had the systems and processes that we have now) but we never regretted it for a second. Tim got to spend quality time with our daughter and evenings at home rather than driving up and down the M5 & M4.
We operated our business for 8 years purely as a local operation in Devon with great success (and a ‘little red van’). However, we soon realised there was a need for our service nationally and the best way to do this was to franchise our business. Following this decision and after refining our systems so they could be replicated, a pilot operation was launched by one of our friends Graham Ormesher in Preston Lancashire in 2013. The success of this pilot franchise led to the business growing quickly and by 2017 Access4Lofts Preston had achieved an annual turnover of £327K along with a conversion rate of 85% (quotes to orders).
A further franchise territory was established in Blackburn and this business, in addition to Plymouth and Preston, continues to operate profitably today.
In early 2017 Graham was invited to join the Board at Access4Lofts to share his business skills and to help us prepare for the franchise’s national launch in 2018, The franchise was launched with some significant improvements, including a fully integrated, bespoke quoting, marketing and admin system and accounting support which includes VAT returns, annual accounts, tax returns and payroll services. No stress, no fuss just a streamlined system that leaves our franchisees free to concentrate on securing and satisfying customers.
Demand for the franchise has been amazing and we now have 18 franchisees operating across 22 territories (as at November 2019). In May 2019 we opened a dedicated franchisee training centre. The idea behind this new centre was to take our exceptional quality of training and support to another level for our new franchise owners.
In June 2019 we got the chance to put the new centre to the test as we welcomed 4 new franchisees (Lincoln, Shrewsbury, Warrington and Worcester) to the team. Our training weeks are always really ‘full-on’ but having this new training centre really made life easier for everyone, and our franchisees had a more ‘true to life’ experience of working in a loft space thanks to our newly built loft training area. The training centre also contains a spacious classroom where franchisees learn about our systems, marketing and complete health and safety training.
Also in June 2019 we came in the top 3 franchises in the Emerging Franchisor of the Year Award at the bfa HSBC Franchise Awards.
It’s been an incredible journey so far, but this is just the beginning. Maybe you’ll be the next person to join the Access4Lofts Dream Team?