From Royal Navy Diver to Business Driver…
When Nigel Luke left school he spent just under 11 years in the Royal Navy working within Warfare Operations and then as a diver. Nigel then spent around 3 years working within IT recruitment which lead him into the Project Management environment where he spent the last 12 years working as a project manager for a number of organisations.
Immediately before taking up his Shuttercraft franchise Nigel was working at Trapeze UK Ltd who are a software systems integrator within the transport sector.
When he decided that he wanted to step away from his employed position and own a part of something for himself, he wanted something where he felt he could maximise his own potential and enjoy being his own boss around his young family. Franchising seemed like the best option as it minimises some of the risk element of starting out on your own as you become part of an established organisation and brand with proven processes and procedures.
“I embarked on my search and researched the area thoroughly. I registered with multiple organisations out there which are associated to the BFA. I talked with a variety of franchisors until I was comfortable enough to take the next step.
That ‘next step’ was Shuttercraft UK, based at Micheldever. The close proximity to him allowed Nigel to easily meet up with the senior management, find out how the teams work and fully understand the franchise operation.
“I started to look at it as a really viable option,” he said. “I wanted to do something for myself within a trusted and established national brand yet being delivered by local independent business owners.
“The company also manufactures shutters under the S:CRAFT brand and utilises their extensive market knowledge so that franchisees are provided with the highest levels of support, including an on-going marketing programme.”
So what made Shuttercraft so appealing?
“I felt very comfortable at the outset from the initial conversations I had with Sean Goldsmith, their Franchise Manager, and the rest of the senior management team. I believe the shutter market has a huge potential and is still very much in it’s infancy within the UK, so plenty of room for growth.”
While Nigel’s Wife is not directly involved in his new venture he says that: “Chloe will be involved as she has a marketing background, so I’m sure she can offer benefits to the business, whilst trying to balance that against looking after our two small boys.”
Training & Support
When asked about the training and support aspect of the Shuttercraft franchise Nigel has nothing but good things to say: “To date this has been really good. I appreciate that I have a lot to learn as my background is from outside of this sector, but Shuttercraft are well organised and the much needed support is there for me to utilise, as and when I need to.”
Highs & Lows
Nigel adds that: “Starting any new business is a huge challenge and, in all honesty, all of it has been a challenge. I’m still in the throes of establishing all of the relevant elements of the business which is an ongoing task, but the right support is always available so I’m dipping into it on a weekly basis.
“I raised the finances via my own personal savings and a bank loan, but I’ve also secured an overdraft facility with NatWest to ensure a very healthy, and positive, cash flow.”
Asked if he has experienced any ‘highs’ with his new venture yet and Nigel smiles and says that: “Just seeing all of the elements starting to come together, from the initial setup, to where I am now has been incredible. We still have a way to go but the initial signs are good PLUS I have already hit my half year sales forecast within four months!”
So what are Nigel’s future plans at this early stage? “I want a solid first year which I can already see exceed the forecasted projections. Then if all goes well I would like to expand on what’s been initially achieved and drive my part of this business forward.”
What would Nigel’s advice be to someone thinking of buying a franchise? “Do what I did and research, research, research. Most people have transferable skills so you don’t necessarily have to look within your comfort zone / background.”
Nigel’s territory extends from in and around Winchester to the surrounding New Forest area, touching on Wiltshire and Dorset. He obviously has an ambitious growth strategy and is already looking at his next territory. He works closely with the company’s surveyor and fitter, supported tirelessly by the backroom teams in Micheldever when it comes to those crucial elements which underpin his business.
“My job is to make people aware, so they can come to their own decision but be inspired by what is available for every room in the house. A site survey is key to understanding what options would work best for frames, fixings and configurations. We offer a friendly effective service in a non-pressurised sales environment – it’s a good business model.”
Nigel may have closed the curtains on his former career, but his new business is proving an enlightened choice.