Chimney sweep franchisee is the toast of Lanarkshire.
It’s been nothing short of a meteoric rise for Kris McLernon since he quit military life in April 2020. Kris, who spent 14 years in the army, left the forces during the pandemic to set up his own franchise business. In August 2021 he became a business partner with Wilkins Chimney Sweep and, within 12 months, had secured a prestigious award.
As the new franchise owner of the Lanarkshire territory, Kris has definitely hit the ground running and has recently been named as a category winner in the 2022 Scottish Ex-Forces in Business Awards. These awards highlight the achievements of ex-military personnel, with fast-moving Kris selected by judges in the category dedicated to those who left the armed forces during the past three years.
Up until the spring of 2020, he had worked as a recovery mechanic with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. And just over 15 months later he joined Wilkins via their ‘no money down’ special offer, which was introduced for those starting new careers during the height of the pandemic.
Following extensive training by the franchisor, Kris now sweeps chimneys, wood burning stoves and biomass boilers – among other duties – to homes and businesses across the Scottish county of Lanarkshire. Kris said: “I loved my time in the army but decided to leave during the pandemic. Everyone advised me against it but I listened to my gut and made the move.”
As for his decision to become a franchisee, he added “I think people misunderstand this sector. Wilkins trained me to do the job and they are also on hand to answer any questions that I may have. I haven’t bought myself a job, I’ve invested in a brand with a great reputation. They are a large network and an experienced franchisor, although I’ve certainly worked hard myself to get the business up and running.
“Unlike a regular nine-to-five job, you never switch off. That said, I do have much more flexibility in my life. If I want some time off to be with my daughter, or attend a special event, I can. I have total control over my diary and I would thoroughly recommend to anyone to consider taking on a Wilkins Chimney Sweep franchise.”
His training manager at Wilkins, Richard Bryan, said: “I knew Kris was going to be successful from the very start. He is organised, focused and disciplined. He regularly uses our WhatsApp group to pick the brains of other franchisees within our network.”
And the company’s franchise manager, Lisa Kimber, was equally full of praise for Kris, saying: “He is already doing an incredible job, and far ahead of where we would expect him to be at this stage.
“He is very independent and full of new ideas when it comes to marketing and advertising his business. Kris is very driven and his customers really rate him. It usually takes a while to become well-known locally, but he is already enjoying plenty of word-of-mouth referrals – and he hasn’t been in business very long.
“We have 17 other franchisees, many of whom have been sweeping chimneys and running their businesses for a number of years. Yet Kris is already ahead of half of them on our leaderboard.
“He is one of the most impressive franchisees we have ever seen and we strongly believe that his military background is partly responsible for his overnight success. We wish him all the best going forward.”
Pip Wilkins, the chief executive of the British Franchise Association (BFA), also complimented Kris by adding: “He is really showing what can be achieved by using the experience he gained as a member of the military, and then applying it in his own business. He’s an excellent example of someone with a military background starting his own business and becoming a success. We are already proud of his achievements.”