Putting plans in motion – becoming a car hire franchise owner

William Zhang, 44, had grown tired of his job as a restaurant manager and was looking for a change. Recognising that he lacked the experience of running his own business, William believed that working with a franchise would be a good way of getting the support he felt he needed.

He visited The National Franchise Exhibition in October 2017 with the aim of finding the right business for him.

Choosing a sector

“I initially went along to the exhibition mainly to learn more about the McDonald’s franchise,” William remembers. “But I quickly realised that it wasn’t going to be quite right for me – even though it’s clearly a great option for others. Plus it wouldn’t have helped with my aim of getting out of the catering business!”

“I had a general look around the exhibition and spoke to representatives from a number of different franchises, but it was the Green Motion opportunity which really caught my eye – partly just because of the way their stand looked! But, also, it seemed like a very good business model – fairly simple, and you didn’t need any specialist skills. It was customer-service based which, having managed a restaurant, I was already used to.”

“I also think that car hire is where the future is – people don’t always want to own cars now, especially those who live in cities. Sharing a car can be easier. It can be more cost-effective for people to hire one just for the weekend or whenever they need one, rather than having to worry about insurance, road tax and things like that all the time. We can make sure that’s all done for them!”

Next steps

Impressed by the franchise, William left his details and was contacted a few days later by a Green Motion representative, Will Wynter. They had a short, informal meeting where Will talked about the franchise in greater detail, how it worked and what kind of finance would be needed. William then went away to think about it – but he didn’t need too long.

“I was keen to get started,” he said, “I thought – ‘I can do that!’ Once I’d checked that the financial aspect was all OK for me, and I’d done a little more research to check I was doing the right thing, I was ready to sign the contract – which I did in April of this year.”

Training and support

There was still plenty for William to do – including finding premises in Liverpool’s city centre, where his franchise was to operate from.

He also attended a three-day training course at Green Motion’s head office in Oxfordshire, as well as spending time at several different Green Motion sites around the country.

“That was really useful,” William says, “I got to learn about all the processes, lots of tips about things to look out for and dos and don’ts. Everything from how to wash the cars correctly to how to operate the booking system.”

William was also able to contact head office while he was setting up the business. “I called for help with things like where I should look for premises and where to situate the car park.” Even when William opened for trading in August 2018, support was always available at the end of the phone.

“I can call head office any time I like,” William says, “I can even call at weekends and someone will be on hand to offer advice. Sometimes I wonder if I’m a bit annoying because I call so often – I have a lot of questions! It’s really useful for me though because I’m new to running my own business, and the Green Motion staff are always able to help.”

A brand-new business

William started out with ten cars for rent and employed a manager.

“He’s worked in the car hire business before, but I was able to send him on a Green Motion training course even so, which was great.”

They placed some Google Ads and business started to roll in – so much so that they have already brought in three extra cars.

“There’s still a lot to learn, and a lot to do,” William says. “I’d like to explore the business to business market, and I think being in Liverpool, it’s well worth making the effort to appeal to students. We’re also thinking of diversifying a little by getting some vans and some premium cars.”

For now, William is enjoying being his own boss, while also having the support of a well-recognised franchise brand.

“It’s different when you’re working for yourself,” he enthuses, “before, I was working just to make money for me and my family to live. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. These days, I feel I’m really making the most of my abilities – getting the maximum from myself.”

Interested in owning your own business, like William? Find out more about upcoming Franchise Exhibitions held in exclusive partnership with the British Franchise Association. Claim free tickets using promo code CAS2.

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