Monthly Archives: November 2011

From the forces to franchises with Drain Doctor

As men and women leave the forces and return to civilian life one of the first obstacles facing them is finding a new career. Many will join civilian services such as fire and rescue or the police force. However, for many more the path is less clear. Running a franchise business provides one answer. Franchisees have the freedom of running their own business but with all the support of a national organisation. One such is Peterborough franchise company Drain Doctor Plumbing.

Since it launched in the United Kingdom in 1993 Drain Doctor has become the country’s largest emergency plumbing and drain repair service. It now provides a nationwide 24 hour a day, 365 days a year service through a network of independently owned franchise businesses. A number of these businesses are owned by former servicemen, franchisees like Jason Hawkins and Allan Rook.

Jason, a former Royal Navy physical training instructor and a member of the Fleet Air Arm Field Gun Association, purchased the Norwich Drain Doctor business in 2007. In the past four years he has gone from strength to strength. He said: “Before purchasing the Drain Doctor franchise I looked at a number of other franchises in various business areas. However, the customer-focused mentality of Drain Doctor was a key deciding factor for me. “The support is reassuring and with on-going training we continue to expand and grow our business.”

Jason started with two vans, operated by himself and a technician. As the business grew he moved from an outbuilding at his home to a new industrial unit and has added a new fully-equipped van and another technician.

Allan Rook, who owns and runs an award-winning Drain Doctor franchise business, began his career in the Army. He served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) as an aircraft engineer in Malaya, Singapore and Germany between 1963 and 1979. After the Army, Allan owned and operated a number of businesses at home and abroad prior to purchasing his Drain Doctor franchise in 1996.

Since launching their franchise, Allan and his wife Jacqui have built a team of technicians, a fleet of five fully-equipped vans plus additional vehicles and equipment for specialised work. They expanded their business by acquiring the neighbouring Portsmouth area and there’s plenty more potential for future growth, says Allan. “Much of our growth comes from recommendation. Turnover is currently around £600,000. We expect that to reach £1 million within three years.”

When asked what advice he would give to personnel currently leaving the forces he said: “When you buy a franchise you are buying a system. You need to work with that system and make it work for you. That is what you get with a Drain Doctor franchise.” Franchise businesses like Drain Doctor offer a good opportunity for ex-servicemen like Jason, Allan and others to start their own


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Drain Doctor supports the next generation of young chefs

Jan Mitman pictured with Cromwell Rotary Club Young Chef 2012 Jasmine Tidswell

Drain Doctor Plumbing  has sponsored a competition organised by the Cromwell Rotary Club to find its Young Chef of the Year for 2012.

Students from Hinchingbrooke and St Peter’s Schools in Huntingdon showed off their culinary skills to competition judges Jan Mitman, franchise sales director at Drain Doctor, and Tim Ireson.

The eight teenage contestants were each asked to prepare a healthy and economical meal in 90 minutes, which were then subjected to a taste test by the judges.

The standard of cooking was high and we were impressed with the dishes that were prepared. Although they were simple ones they were very tasty. Finding the eventual winner proved to be no easy task.

Everyone at Drain Doctor is delighted to continue its involvement with this event. We are closely involved in the catering industry so it makes sense to support the next generation of young chefs and catering professionals coming through.

First place in the Young Chef contest went to St Peter’s School student Jasmine Tidswell, who now goes forward to compete at district level against students from Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Lincolnshire. The district winner moves on to compete in the national finals, the winner of which will be crowned as one of the best aspiring chefs in the country.

With so many celebrity chefs in the public eye, cooking is becoming very popular. Students see what can be achieved and want to prepare more than just fast food. We are pleased to be able to help them realise their ambitions.

The 2011 national competition was judged by Valentine Warner who is always full of encouragement for young newcomers to cooking. Part of the Drain Doctor ethos is to work hard and aim high and that is the message that this competition gets across.

Congratulations to Jasmine who has progressed to the district competition and has something higher to aim for. We wish her and the other students well for the future as they progress.

Second place went to Rebecca Anderson of Hinchingbrooke School, while St Peter’s student Josh Howells took third spot.

In addition to our domestic plumbing and drainage services, we provide grease management solutions including grease trap maintenance for commercial kitchens in hotels and restaurants around the country. We also supply an exclusive enzyme cleaner which digests grease to help control the build up of grease in drainage systems that can cause blockages, foul odours and potential environmental problems, so it makes sense to continue to support this event.

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Welcome our new Drain Doctor franchisee for Central London

Ian Robinson has taken on the Drain Doctor franchise for Central London.

We welcome plumber and businessman Ian Robinson to the Drain Doctor network.

Ian has taken on the Central London franchise business of Drain Doctor Plumbing  offering emergency plumbing and drain repairs in the City, Barbican, Mayfair, Chelsea and Bermondsey. He has extensive experience in general business and in the plumbing and drainage industry in particular.

Ian’s early career was in the motor trade where he spent 20 years honing his sales and marketing skills. He then re-trained and went on to own a franchise with another plumbing and drainage franchise business before leaving the industry to go into catering. Ian still owns the Orange Tree café in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Recently however Ian was looking to expand his business interests so he decided to build on the skills he had learnt as a plumbing technician. Six months ago he started his own plumbing and drainage business.

Ian soon realised that he would need to expand the plumbing business beyond his local area to make it work. He said: “As a one man band it is difficult to gain the large commercial accounts needed to complement the domestic work and grow the business. Health and safety also becomes an issue because many businesses now require risk assessments and appropriate health and safety standards.

“Health and safety is a minefield but as a national company Drain Doctor is able to provide plenty of support and accredited training.”

While researching various business opportunities Ian was struck by how much more support he would get as part of our large national organisation, rather than working on his own as a small independent contractor.

He said: “Drain Doctor has a proven system that offers a largely recession-proof opportunity where I can still be an independent operator running my own business but with all the back-up that comes with being part of a large national organisation.

“I looked at other businesses for sale but you don’t get the same support that you do with Drain Doctor. With some other businesses you are left on your own. Drain Doctor also offers great contacts with its national account network that will help me to develop and grow the business. ”

Ian will start the business with one van and a technician but he intends to continue to expand and plans to have another fully-equipped van and technician on the road within a month.

He will run the office with the help of his wife Fiona and, in what spare time he has, Ian will continue to enjoy caravanning and camping. He said: “I don’t think I’m going to have much time to go travelling around the country now, at least not until we get the franchise established and a few more technicians on the road.”

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Anglia Drain Doctor rallies friends for Help for Heroes

Recently three friends and me rallied in support of Help for Heroes.

The four of us took part in an international motor rally with a difference, raising £2,000 for Help for Heroes in the process. Help for Heroes is Drain Doctor’s designated charity for 2011/2012.

We are  all business owners who are members of Woodbridge Rugby Club. We decided we wanted to do something daft to raise money for Help for Heroes.  After giving the idea some thought we decided to take part in The Screwball Rally. It is a race around Europe which involved 50 cars going on a 2,000 mile round trip via Mannheim, Prague, Hanover and Amsterdam.

Our theme, we decided, would be Baywatch. We bought a C class Mercedes estate for £400 and painted it bright yellow with bathroom emulsion and added Baywatch logos. Three of us dressed as Pamela Anderson and one as ‘The Hoff’.

During the rally, run over five days from Thursday to Monday,we camped out at a different campsite each night along the route and spent the days driving between destinations.

We were lucky to complete even the first stage of the event. Our first night’s destination was Mannheim in Germany and a campsite on the banks of the Rhine. When we arrived at the campsite the police were waiting for us. The rally organisers had failed to register the rally with the German authorities.

The police thought we were racing across Germany. We tried to explain that all 50 cars involved in the rally would be lucky to complete the journey as they cost so little, but I don’t think they believed us. Perhaps it was our costumes that put them off.

The next morning we discovered that there were just three showers for the whole campsite. The queue was huge so the four of us waded into the river for our morning ablutions. Still we got back safely after a lot of laughs and raised some money for Help for Heroes in the process.

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Drain Doctor to the rescue

Self made image of Eastern Cottontail

Image via Wikipedia

Frank Cole, Bob Munro and the team from Drain Doctor Bristol can now add ‘animal rescue’ to their list of services.

Late on Sunday afternoon the team received a call from a father of a six-year-old girl whose prized pet rabbit Minnie had gone missing. A strange call for an emergency plumbing and drain repair company you might think.

But when Nick Clark explained that his daughter Hannah’s pet rabbit had gone missing after he had been putting in a soil stack for a new extension Bob put two and two together.

When he got to the scene the Clarks had been fearing the worst. Mrs Clark had taken Hannah to the zoo before she realised that Minnie was missing while Bob examined the drain.

The garden had been made rabbit proof so the logical place to look for it was down the soil stack. Using specialist CCTV equipment Bob undertook a drain survey. He found that the rabbit had climbed into the pipe, which Mr Clark had forgotten to block off, then got stuck further down the drain.

After he found the rabbit still alive in the drain Bob dug up the patio to reach the rabbit, rescued it and then replaced the drain and patio.

Bob said: “We were able to get Minnie out safely, although she was a bit wet and frightened. We only charged the customer for the CCTV survey because they were obviously distressed about what might have happened to their pet if we hadn’t got it out in time.”

Nick Clark was thrilled. He said: “Drain Doctor staff were friendly, helpful and considerate and the whole job was less expensive than I thought it might have been.

“It must have been very traumatic for the poor rabbit and Bob needed to take care when he was digging it out but he did us proud. They were quick, neat and very clean and tidy.”


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