The Bfa:

Starting from scratch 18 months ago Neil Newman has built his Drain Doctor Plumbing franchise in Exeter into an operation that achieved a £264,000 turnover in his first year.

So successful has he been that Drain Doctor has allowed him to expand in to the neighbouring area of Taunton.

Said Neil, 33, who was previously a drainage technician working for another franchise business. “I wish I had invested in Drain Doctor earlier. It’s taken lots of work but you only get back what you put in.â€?

He credits his success entirely to following the Drain Doctor Plumbing business system. “I’ve done it the Drain Doctor way and it works,â€? he said “Someone else who trained at the same time as me didn’t follow the system and eventually gave up the franchise.â€?

Freddie and Jan Mitman adapted a successful American business concept when they launched Drain Doctor Plumbing in the UK in 1993. The central principle was to deliver ‘dazzling’ levels of service in a market plagued by cowboy operators who were overcharging customers for shoddy workmanship.

The formula worked and Drain Doctor Plumbing rapidly grew to become the country’s largest emergency plumbing and drain repair business with over 84 franchise areas covering the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The company is the first national organisation in its sector to register under the government-backed Quality Mark Approved scheme, which aims to protect householders from cowboy traders.

“Many householders are fearful of calling out plumbers and other construction tradesmen because of the horror stories that they have seen on television programmes,â€? said Neil, who lives in Yeovil. “It is very distressing to be the victim of shoddy workmanship so Drain Doctor Plumbing has built a reputation for excellence that wins customer trust and loyalty.

“By providing a genuine 24-hour service with no call-out charge and no extras for working unsocial hours customers know they are not going to be ripped off. We provide fixed price quotations so that customers know exactly how much they will pay before we start work and all our work is guaranteed.

“Our smart vans and work clothes convey a professional image that is emphasised by our working practices. Technicians must follow our high quality operating systems or we won’t keep them.â€?

All Drain Doctor Plumbing vans carry modern equipment to solve a wide range of plumbing and drainage problems and technicians receive full training in such techniques as CCTV drain surveys and ‘no-dig’ drain relining and patch repairs. Having originally trained as a plumber with his father in London, Neil now employs his father as a manager to supervise his technicians. His partner, Anne Pulman, manages all the business administration tasks. “I couldn’t manage without her,â€? said Neil. “Drain Doctor’s head office team has also been great with the comprehensive initial training and the on-going support it provides.â€?

Drain Doctor’s franchise sales director Jan Mitman added: “Neil beat all previous records for his first year turnover figures but similar success is achievable by anyone who follows our business systems and applies the training we provide.

The company continues to attract new franchisees who are keen to emulate such success. It recently provided induction training for seven new franchisees, whose career backgrounds are as diverse as sales and marketing, contract cleaning, printing, heating installation and financial broking.

“While some practical experience of the plumbing and drainage trade can be an advantage, it can also be an obstacle if people think they can just continue with their old working habits under the Drain Doctor Plumbing brand,â€? said Jan. “We can inspire people with the Drain Doctor success formula if they have the right attitude and motivation, regardless of their previous career experience.â€?