Loss assessor franchise Aspray is fast approaching its twentieth anniversary, after building a steady UK franchise ideally suited to both individuals and small operations alike. Founder James Whittle told us more…
Anyone who has had a kitchen fire, or a burst pipe may have had a visit from the loss adjuster to sort out the insurance claim. What you may not know is that you can appoint representation of your own in the form of a loss assessor, such as the franchisees from Aspray.
One such franchise, Aspray, has been steadily growing for nearly 20 years, having initially been set up in 2005, and now has 40 franchisees across the UK.
James Whittle, founder and MD of Aspray, explains how it works, for the uninitiated.
“When a policyholder experiences damage to their property, whether that be from a fire, a burst pipe or any other unexpected occurrence, the insurance claim can be quite complex. Some policyholders struggle with the multifaceted process. This may be due to a lack of knowledge when it comes to their insurance policy or the stress of dealing with contractors and tradespeople.
“Often the insurance company will appoint a loss adjuster or claims management company to act on their behalf. The appointed person will assess the damage and, along with the insurance company, propose a settlement. But at the point of claim, the policyholder is entitled to instruct independent representation, this is where Aspray comes in.”
James says the firm takes loss assessing a step further. Not only does it assess the damage and negotiate the settlement with the insurer, or their representative, but it also manages the repair works using approved contractors.
It means the policyholder doesn’t need to source and arrange various tradespeople, which can be a difficult task under normal circumstances, but is even more troublesome in today’s climate when a shortage of contractors can delay works being carried out. Aspray also offers a twelve-month guarantee on all works to give the policyholder extra peace of mind.
“Providing we can carry out the works for the claim, the service costs nothing to the policyholder, except the excess they agreed with their insurer, or VAT if they are a VAT registered company, as we make our money from the reinstatement works.
“Our franchisees manage the entire process and it’s clear from the huge number of five-star reviews they receive that policyholders greatly value the service.”
The Aspray franchise model is territory based. Each franchisee purchases a set of postcodes which includes a minimum number of households and businesses. They visit the policyholder at the damaged property, so many of them begin operations working from home, although some move into offices as their business grows and they begin to employ staff.
“Franchisees manage the claims on behalf of policyholders and manage multiple claims at any one time,” says James. “They assess the damage to the property and negotiate the settlement directly with the insurer or their representative. Once settlement is agreed, they project manage the reinstatement works. Aspray has special permissions from the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) to hold client monies, therefore payments come directly to this account. Once the claim is complete and the policyholder has signed to say they are satisfied with the works, money is released to the franchisee, less the royalty, to pay their contractors and obtain their profits.
“We offer a huge amount of training and support to our franchisees. After the initial induction course which covers the foundations of all business areas from loss assessing to sales and marketing, there is in the field support. This means that should a franchisee get a large fire claim in their first week, there is support on hand to help them navigate the process.
“I’ve built a fantastic team at head office that supports the network, investing in training and development so they are always up to date with industry changes or the latest innovations in their field. Many of the team have been with Aspray for many years and know the business inside out. They provide daily support to the franchisees and are in constant contact.”
Many of the current franchisees come from property-related backgrounds such as construction or quantity surveying, which works well as they often already know their way around the build process and materials of a property.
“In 2020, we were the first franchise in the UK to implement Zorakle profiling, something which is used in America. This profiled our top performing franchisees and provided us with a blueprint of their key attributes. Every potential franchisee completes the assessment and is scored against the blueprint. This helps us predict whether their attributes match the business and the role.”
Like every franchise operation there are individual success stories that stand out and while it is perfectly suited to being a one man business, there are plenty of examples of owners growing their operation to set up an office and employ staff.
“It’s a wonderful feeling when franchisees tell me that joining the network has changed their lives,” says James. “We have numerous franchisees who started the business alone and now have family members working with them as the franchise grows. I was involved with my family’s businesses when I was younger, family business is all I have known, and it’s wonderful to see the franchisees experiencing that.
“I know one franchisee had a somewhat struggled start to their business, but with support from the team at head office has now grown to employ their sister and nephew. Last year they even moved their operations from home to a lovely city-based office, and I had the pleasure of attending the opening. It’s fantastic to see how far they have come and I’m looking forward to seeing how much more they can achieve as they continue to grow.”
Anyone looking to join Aspray needs to have “a passion for property and the drive to provide high levels of customer satisfaction”, adds James.
“A successful franchisee needs to be a good communicator,” he says, “and be able to manage multiple projects at different stages simultaneously, have good negotiation and man management skills and most importantly be hardworking.
“We have a robust recruitment process that we have designed to ensure that the franchise partnership is right for both parties. This starts with an initial conversation with the recruitment team. I’d urge anyone who is considering a franchise with Aspray to give them a call and have a chat. It really is the best way to find out more about Aspray.”
Those interested can visit the obligatory website, https://www.asprayfranchise.co.uk/ and there is a Discovery seminar coming up on the 23rd March in Birmingham, where James and the head office team will be meeting those interested.
“We’ll be discussing the franchising industry, the Aspray business model and what it takes to be a successful franchisee. Anyone who would like to attend can book a free ticket on our franchise website.”
As with nearly every business, Aspray had to survive the Covid crisis, which was particularly tricky for a business based on house calls. But at least you knew they would be home.
“Property damage did not stop throughout this period and our franchisees were fantastic at adapting their working styles to get the job done whilst meeting the restrictions and guidelines in force at that time. People were spending a lot of time in their homes, and this meant that damage needed to be dealt with quickly, efficiently and with a great level of care and I am proud of the entire network and their dedication to policyholders throughout this time.”
James says the firm is taking on extra staff to handle the growth of the business but is aiming for quality rather than quantity with its expansion plans.
“There are exciting times ahead for the Aspray brand. We are constantly growing, and I’ve just added two new members of staff to our claims team to handle the extra influx of claims. Our introducer network is growing and expanding rapidly as we become their go to claims management solution.
“We are not looking to recruit large numbers of franchises, our aim is to find the right person who, with the backing of the brand, will build a successful business.”