The only way is up

The world of loft ladders can be an up and down business (sorry). But for Liam Hobbs, the new owner of the More Than Loft Ladders franchise, the only way now, is up

The only way is up

Hobbs’ transition from franchisee to franchise owner hasn’t been without its challenges, but his unique experience has allowed him to implement changes that are transforming the business. 

He says: “I have enjoyed the process of updating all the legal and operational documents relating to our franchise, it has helped me learn a lot more about how franchising works. I am enjoying implementing the many changes that were required and that caused my frustrations as a franchisee. I now use my franchise area as a test bed for new ideas and practices as well as evidence that a business can be scaled up in our sector.”

His hands-on approach, informed by his previous experience as a franchisee, has been a cornerstone of Hobbs’ leadership style. 

He’s not afraid to get into the nitty-gritty of the business, using his own franchise area as a laboratory for innovation and improvement.

The transition has naturally come with its fair share of challenges, but Hobbs experience at the coal face has prepared him well. The extra responsibility of leadership has been perhaps his steepest learning curve.

He says: “I haven’t found anything really difficult apart from the initial realisation that our franchise partners look to me and expect answers when problems arise. Working with them to find solutions has empowered them to be more self-reliant and more inclined to problem solve before raising issues.”

This newfound responsibility has led Hobbs to foster a more collaborative and empowering environment within the franchise network. He has implemented several changes that are a point of difference from the previous owner. 

“We now hold regular Franchise Development Days for all partners either in person or online,” Hobbs explains. “Covering various topics throughout the year, we are upskilling our partners to be better business owners. Collaboration in these group events is golden, many problems are solved by sharing experiences.”

Recognising the need for better communication and resource-sharing, he also spearheaded the development of a new digital platform. 

“We have taken our ops manual online, now known as ‘The Loft’ we have an online portal containing not only the ops manual but training materials, recruitment advice and helpful documents and a dashboard custom to each franchise partner so that they can easily track how business is going.”

Going through the roof

Such innovations are the result of Hobbs’ decade-long experience as a franchisee, which he has passed on to his network with great success. 

He explains: “The 10 years as a successful franchisee gave me enough experience of our market to enable me to make some quick fixes for struggling franchisees. What worked for me, but was ignored by the previous franchisor, was quickly rolled out to our franchise partners who have all seen their profits increase between 10-15% in the last 18 months.”

Through the ceiling, you might say. Or you might not. 

But the impressive profit uplift is just one of the many successes Hobbs has overseen since taking over the franchise. He is also leveraging his stint as a franchisee to refine the selection process. 

“That experience of being a franchisee also gave me a good eye for the kind of partners we need and are now looking for,” Hobbs explains. 

“The most recent franchise I awarded is already surpassing his single van peers and he’s only been trading for two months. This is mostly down to the individual but also testament to the improved training we now offer and the marketing experience we have shared.”

When asked about the specific growth and improvements he’s made since taking over, Hobbs outlines several key initiatives.

“We have a new Operations Portal online, we have established stronger links with suppliers reducing costs of materials for our partners. Our development days have upskilled our partners in marketing techniques as well as using collaborative knowledge and shared experiences to improve their businesses. As previously mentioned, the network has experienced between a 10 and 15% increase in profits.”

Lofty ambitions

These improvements are just the beginning says Hobbs, who has ambitious plans for the future of More Than Loft Ladders. When asked about his plans, he says confidently: ”Our ambition is to grow the network by four new partners per year and become the largest franchise in our trade by 2035.”

To achieve this growth, Hobbs is focusing on a strategy of expansion through more franchises rather than larger territories. “We need more franchise partners operating smaller territories than previously awarded as we have large territories that are being underworked,” he explains.

Recognising the need for external support in this endeavour, Hobbs has sought help from various outside sources. 

“We have remapped the territories within the UK to a more suitable size,” he explains. “We have established a marketing rhythm and process for the recruitment of new franchise partners with a new agency. Joining the BFA (British Franchise Association) as well as becoming Which? accredited have both been very educational processes.”

Hobbs’ journey from franchisee to franchise owner is a testament to the worth of experience, vision, and a willingness to innovate. By addressing the pain points he experienced as a franchisee, he’s created a more supportive, collaborative, and profitable environment for all More Than Loft Ladders franchise partners.

Combining the practical, on-the-ground knowledge of a successful franchisee with the strategic vision of a franchise owner, he has turned MTLL into a more dynamic operation.

And by implementing new initiatives such as regular development days, creating an online resource hub, and fostering a culture of knowledge sharing, he has set the business up for continued success. 

With profits up across the network and new franchisees outperforming expectations, the business is well on its way to achieving the goal of becoming the largest franchise of its kind over the next few years.

Ronnie Dungan
Ronnie Dungan