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Jason Woods, Director of hydraulic hose repair company Pirtek shortlisted for prestigious national business award

19/06/2018 | General

Jason Woods, Director of hydraulic hose repair company Pirtek, has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Multi-Unit Franchisee category in the prestigious annual bfa HSBC Franchise Awards 2018.

Run by the British Franchise Association (bfa), these widely-respected awards recognise both franchisees and franchisors who have demonstrated outstanding business acumen, innovation and achievement.  Franchising is the granting of a licence by one person (the franchisor) to another (the franchisee), which entitles the franchisee to trade under the brand, taking advantage of the systems and support offered by the franchisor. 

Jason joins two others on the shortlist for the Multi-unit Franchisee of the Year Award category, which recognises franchisees with more than three units in the same network, that can prove their evolution and strategy has demonstrated sustainable growth across their portfolio.

Pirtek is a franchise network of hydraulic hose repair centres, with mobile technicians offering roadside support services. Having started as a technician at Pirtek Birmingham in 1997, after 20 years committed to the Pirtek brand, Jason Woods is now Pirtek UK’s largest multi-unit franchisee. He has worked for and owned a number of different franchises in various roles, before ultimately uniting five of them under a single banner.

When the position of centre manager at Birmingham came up he took on the challenge, before moving to Pirtek Kidderminster and Wolverhampton in a sales role. After six months, the Pirtek Kidderminster franchise came up and Jason jumped at the opportunity to become a franchisee. He remained an active participant in the day-to-day work of the centre, as well as its administration as he believes in being hands-on.

After 18 months Jason was forced to change direction due to a back injury. This meant he sold his Kidderminster franchise and went to work for the franchisor, Pirtek UK, for two and a half years as a troubleshooter going into any centre needing help.

When the Worcester franchise became available in 2005, Jason was ready to go back into business. Worcester was a satellite of the Gloucester centre and Jason knew the owner well and after brokering talks he took over in June 2006.

This was the beginning of Jason’s journey as a multi-unit franchisee. The first opportunity to expand fell into Jason’s lap in 2007. He knew the current licensee at Kidderminster wanted to move on, which was ironic because he had sold it to him. He approached him and they struck a deal.

The benefits of multi-units were immediately apparent as his service levels increased, because there were no border issues regarding passing jobs between franchises, which led him to see the greater opportunities this could bring, and Jason seized another business opportunity the following year when a local competitor shut up shop. Jason swept up its remaining customers and saw his business go up two or threefold.

He continued as owner of a dual franchise for around four years before the owner of Gloucester, from whom he’d already bought the Worcester business, decided to sell his remaining Pirtek centre. Since then Jason has expanded the businesses by increasing the number of vans on the franchises, which cover a vast area extending into Wales. Having the right staff in place is paramount. Increased size and demands on his time made it essential for Jason to manage larger teams and delegate effectively. In particular he made his best engineer in Gloucester – Alan Simpkins – centre manager.

With Jason proving the viability of running three franchises alongside each other and his strong relationship with the franchisor, Pirtek UK contacted him to ask whether he would be interested in taking on South Wales which he did.

Growth has forced Jason to evolve his personal approach and on being shortlisted in the Multi-Unit Franchisee category he said: “People have called me a control freak in the past, but every time we expand I have to become less of one. Previously I looked at all my works orders and invoices. Going into Wales, I can’t do that. I have to trust people and delegate.

“I am very clear about the benefits of multi-units. Smaller centres with two or three vans can struggle. If they lose one guy, that could be a third of their turnover. If we lose one guy, with 10 vans it has less of an impact. Generally, expansion is a no-brainer.”

Pip Wilkins, CEO of the bfa, said "It’s over forty years since the bfa was launched specifically to develop ethical franchising in the UK, and I am proud of the way the sector has grown in that time, with the industry's turnover exceeding £15bn - that's 1% of the UK's GDP!

“I am delighted to see such a strong field of people in the Multi-unit Franchisee of the Year category as it demonstrates how you can grow franchise businesses in a particular sector by taking on more than one unit. I would like to congratulate all three shortlisted finalists in this category and wish them the best of luck at the Awards ceremony at the ICC Birmingham on 28th of June!" 

 Andrew Brattesani, UK Head of Franchising for award sponsor HSBC, said, “HSBC is delighted to be once again supporting these franchise awards. Franchise businesses are often the hidden engine of business growth in the UK and it is essential to highlight the important contribution both large and small businesses make to our economy. It is also important to showcase to people that they can run their own businesses and if you don’t want to go it alone, or haven’t got a strong business idea of your own, you can still be successful and become your own boss.”

All the bfa HSBC Franchise Award category winners will be named at an exclusive black-tie ceremony held between day one and two of the bfa Annual Conference, on 28thJune 2018 at the ICC in Birmingham.

The three shortlisted companies for the Multi-unit Award are:

  1. Costa – Diljit Brar (Goldex Investments Group Ltd) (Essex, Surrey, Sussex, Kent) – operator of 71 franchises in the Costa Coffee network
  2. Pirtek – Jason Woods (Worcester, Gloucester, Kidderminster, Swansea, Cardiff) – hydraulic hose repair centres with mobile technicians offering roadside services
  3. Autosmart – Lee Atkins (Coventry) – a privately owned British manufacturer and franchisor that distributes their products via a network of 119 franchisees both in the UK and worldwide

 

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