Only two years in to its franchising operation, the Oxford-based New Driveway Company has been shortlisted for the BFA Emerging Franchisor of the Year Award.
The award celebrates franchisors that have been trading for under five years and are demonstrating how they are building the foundations for success. The New Driveway Company says it has made the final three in this awards category by showcasing a strong business infrastructure built to sustain growth for a bright trading future.
The company, which launched in Oxford and London in 2012, specialise in providing replacement driveways, patios and hard landscaping solutions. With offices at Oxford, Swindon, Reading, London, High Wycombe, Peterborough and Cardiff, it is further expanding throughout the UK to meet increased customer demand.
In 2016 it launched the EasiClear Driveway System, allowing homeowners to clear ice and snow at the touch of a button and Woodbörd, a unique decking material made almost entirely from recycled products.
Darren Field, managing director of the New Driveway Company, said: “We founded the company to bring a new level of professionalism, design and customer service to the homeowners of Britain. Being shortlisted for the award is a very exciting moment and recognition of the hard work and commitment given by all those involved with the company.
“We started our franchise operation in 2015, setting up a handful of pilot units. Working with and supporting our franchisees has allowed us to proudly say that every single one of our franchisees has exceeded expected targets, showing how viable the business model is. We have had great support from the BFA and it’s fantastic to be shortlisted for the award.”
Field explains how he has managed to build the franchise so quickly: “It’s all about the team. When I set up the original Oxford company we got the team right from the start, with everyone playing to their skills: myself setting the strategy and running the business, my brother Ben on operations and Jamie Clutterbuck as sales director looking after the pipeline.
“We knew from the start that we would franchise, so we focused on building a great brand and robust systems, so that we could be sure the model was scalable. That meant drawing in a wider team.”
The company says it invested wisely from the beginning, enlisting the help of Simon Gregory and his team at the Oxford-based branding agency, Clear & Creative.
‘John Lewis of driveways’
Field commented: “A solid brand with a distinctive message is crucial for any business, but for a franchise, it’s an imperative. Simon took us through a process that allowed us to position ourselves as the ‘John Lewis of driveway companies’, by getting under the skin of what really matters to our customers, and setting up the eight ‘brand pillars’ that run through the DNA of the entire company.
“When Clear & Creative unveiled our new website in 2015 the impact on our sales were dramatic. The positioning, messages and sheer quality of the site turns visitors into serious enquirers on autopilot – Jamie’s conversion rate on sales doubled almost overnight.”
The company adds that the brand pillars still feed into every area of the business, and have enabled it to keep their marketing, sales and operations solid and consistent through their rapid growth.
But to franchise successfully, Field knew that the team had to expand further still and the next step was to bring in Natalie Blake as financial director, who assisted the company with its business model.
The company chose franchise lawyers Bird & Bird for its legal work and Graeme Payne, a partner at Bird & Bird, said: “I immediately recognised in Darren a committed and passionate entrepreneur but also a person determined to execute their business plan and model in the right way. It was the clear desire to underpin everything with professionalism that was very refreshing about working with Darren.
“Our team worked closely with Darren to not only develop the franchise documentation but more importantly, to help put processes in place that allow Darren to grow the franchise business from a position of strength. It is very exciting and rewarding to play a small part in a successful and growing franchise business.”
Field added: “We have enjoyed invaluable support from Graeme and his team, not only in relation to brand protection and legal documentation, but also as a commercial advisor really helping us in our early days with its understanding of franchise businesses and the various relationships in play.”
The company has launched a web portal for franchisees, The New Driveway Academy, which includes documents for its franchisees, such as health and safety resources and HR support.
Commenting on its academy, Field enthused: “If that was all it did it would be great, but we’ve added an e-learning platform and a project management system too, so that every branch can quickly and easily win, track and deliver projects faster and more efficiently. This is a real step-change for us.”
All is clearly working for this new emerging franchisor, as new franchisees for Coventry, Guildford and Wigan have completed their induction to this growing network.
For further information, visit www.newdrivewaycompany.com/franchise