Managing Director of Optic-Kleer David Overton discusses the changes to the franchise
David, the last time we spoke you were undertaking the decision to concentrate on building a new CRM system, rather than franchisee recruitment. How has that experience been for you?
3 years ago, we took the decision to take Optic-Kleer franchise apart and piece it back together. We did this whilst we only had 30 franchisees. When we are ready to do so, which we are now, we can scale up fast, safe in the knowledge that the system is perfect.
We tested the software for over 18months. This removed all the kinks and meant that we were comfortable no franchisee would find a problem or error.
Do you feel your experience as a franchisee helped you make better decisions for your franchisees as the owner now?
My time as a franchisee helped me better understand what was needed. When I was a franchisee, I knew what I wanted. I thought it would be good if we had a better system, better CRM, and better relationships with our customers and concession partners, and since I took over, I have done just that.
What has the introduction of the new system done for the business since its roll out?
Since introducing the new system we have seen that just over 12% of customers that interact with our website have gone on to have a repair, which is a great conversion rate and increase in sales. The benefits of the new system, and becoming paperless, are nearly too many to list, but have greatly increased efficiency and profitability.
We knew if we expanded the network in the past, we would need to be in a position whereby we could service it. It would have taken 5 people to run the head office backend to keep up with the demand. We are far more efficient now.
You must have some happy franchisees, an efficient system that has shown to increase their turnover?
Put it this way, the system we have built and own is, in our opinion, the best out there. No one has anything like this. This could be white labelled and used in any franchise sector. It is a complete management software tool.
In less than 3 years, including Covid-19, the new system has efficiently handled just under £3 million worth of windscreen sales / insurance claims.
How have your customers reacted to the new adjustments you have made?
The customer feedback we have received has been fantastic. We try to stay connected with our customers. If they send a text or email our system communicates back directly. Everything is logged on the system so if a customer calls, their history is logged and easily accessible. The customer can also easily find at what location their nearest operator is working. We don’t want to compete with home visits like AutoGlass, but our customers certainly love our approach, as they love the convenience of having their windscreen repaired whilst shopping in their local supermarket.
It is not just the CRM that has undergone a revolution, how has the training evolved?
Our biggest problem in the past was logistically. We would prepare for a week, train for a week at head office and then spend a week catching up. We needed to look at our limitations and wanted to be able to set up in under two weeks.
We moved into a new location in July. New boardroom and training facilities. Trainee franchisees are only here for two days now and then they go for hands on training with an existing franchisee.
We really do hold our franchisees hands through the entire process. We do it all. Bank set-up, VAT number, Google My Business, electronic diary. We have the resources at head office now to train and set up any franchisee within 10 days.
How has this improved the turnaround for recruiting and training franchisees?
Well since lockdown, part 1, ended in August we have trained and set up 11 franchisees. We know we can do it very quickly now.
We have additional exciting news to share. 2021 will see the introduction of the new British Standards for windscreen repair, which I have been involved with. Part of the standard covers qualifications and competency. Optic-Kleer will be following this new standard by becoming a registered training college and all our franchisees will be trained and awarded an NVQ.
The elephant in the room, what was the impact of Covid-19 on the business?
Communication at the start and throughout was paramount to us. I think we were all glued to the 5 o’clock news. We made the decision not to trade in our concession partner’s car parks as we did not believe it was ethical. But because we make all our franchisees trade as Limited companies, and use Pay Roll they were fortunate enough that they could at least furlough themselves.
I feel sorry for franchisors, or any business for that matter, that needed to be able to see customers or eateries. What a year this must have been for them.
How did the new system help when you were able to get out and trade?
We did some minor changes but overall, the system we built already did everything we needed, as all the processing is carried out in a completely contactless way. Also, there is no physical contact with customers, equipment is sanitized between repairs and we even sign on behalf of the customer.
What do you say to anyone looking at Optic-Kleer as an opportunity?
We are now ready for you! After what we have built and achieved over the last 3 years, we are now on a recruitment drive. Anyone who wants to join Optic-Kleer is not buying a job. They are building a business; they are self-employed and need to be self-motivated to succeed. We know our model works as we have many years of proven trading history, but also, I am always here for them, if they need any support. Support is very important and that’s what Optic-Kleer does very well.