From ‘van man’ to million-pound business

One Revive! territory continues to set new milestones within the network.

From ‘van man’ to million-pound business

When Nathan Holmes launched Revive! Cambridge in 2007, he was a man on a mission. He wasn’t interested in being a one-van operation, he wanted to build a sizable multi-vehicle business.

Now, 15 years on, he is the major shareholder of Revive! East Anglia which has a property portfolio, employs 16 people, operates 10 vans and has opened two workshops. By 2012, Nathan had smashed every sales record within the franchise. At this point he had five vans, but was still keen to expand further.

He invited employee Andy Blackhurst, and good friend Adam Holmes (no relation), to become shareholders of a business which purchased territories adjacent to Cambridge. Together, this trio created Revive! East Anglia and the story has not ended there.

Soon, Revive! East Anglia posted an annual turnover in excess of £1m. They doubled their number of vans on the road and, in 2013, opened a static workshop in Cambridge. Five years later a larger workshop unit, measuring 6,000 square feet, was unveiled, and the business continues to go from strength to strength.

Nathan, Adam and Andy have just renewed their franchise agreement with Revive! and their annual turnover is currently edging close to the £2m mark. During the past year they have invested heavily by purchasing two specialist vans, a diamond cut lathe and diamond cut wheel repair equipment. These have been installed at a workshop on the outskirts of Cambridge.

Nathan and his fellow directors have collected awards at every Revive! annual network conference during the past decade. And, in 2016, Revive! East Anglia was recognised by the British Franchise Association (BFA) who presented the company with two prestigious awards – one for Customer Services and the other for being the BFA’s Franchisee of the Year.

Adam Holmes said: “Winning the BFA’s Franchisee of the Year award has got to be the major highlight. And you can’t win a customer service award without all the guys in the business pulling together. This just illustrates the high level of care and repair we continually deliver.

“Another standout moment was becoming a million pound business. When we first started it really was a ‘man in a van’ operation. Fifteen years ago we had a few vans on the road and perhaps posted £200,000 a year. Back then we felt this was a major achievement but we now really need to push on and become the first Revive! business to reach a £2m turnover.”

Adapting to an ever-changing marketplace is one of the main reasons for their continued success. The arrival of Covid actually benefitted the business. Due to a shortage of new cars, the majority of dealerships focused on the second-hand market. This meant that there was a plethora of older vehicles displayed on company forecourts which all needed repairing.

Electric vehicles will become the next focus for the company, with Adam adding: “For anybody working in the repair industry, the next five to 10 years are going to be massive. Whether it’s a Tesla or an automated car, they all suffer scrapes and will need to be repaired. We just need to keep up to date.”

Revive! and their head office team are constantly evolving and adapting to remain ahead of the game, while staying up to date regarding technology, as they focus their attention on meeting the needs of each and every franchisee.

The team at East Anglia value the level of support and training they receive from head office. Revive! HQ has an IT department which has developed its own Revive! app, tablet and management information system (MIS). This technology provides franchisees with all the tools they require to automate administration. The software deals with customer quotes, invoicing, as well as business data such as performance statistics.

Monthly sales figures, for every Revive! territory, is shared with the network. East Anglia keep a watchful eye on their fellow franchisees, with Adam admitting there is a friendly rivalry between business partners: “Revive! has a great franchise model but sometimes it’s the competition that drives us to be the best. Whether that’s being the best regarding customer service, or quality of repair, it motivates us to become the best franchisee in the network. It’s competitive.”

And Nathan Holmes observed: “When I first set up the franchise I had ambitions to build a bigger business. Now, all those years later, I am proud of our success, the awards, and watching the business grow. The support we have received from head office, and the quality of training we were able to access as part of the network, have all helped to get us to where we are now. Revive! is a wonderful brand and we’re proud to be part of it.”

Andy Swales
Andy Swales