Hire Intelligence Manchester: Paul Gilmore

Paul Gilmore has certainly shown the potential of the franchise. He tells us about his success.

Paul Gilmore’s a man on a mission. In less than two years he’s turned a £150,000 investment into a rapidly growing business which in the first three months of its second year has already achieved a turnover of £93,000. No mean feat, and he’s not stopping there.

No surprise then that he was named Franchisee of the Year at the NatWest Startups Awards in October. He acquired IT and audio-visual leasing franchise Hire Intelligence Manchester in February 2005, and it wasn’t long before he snapped up the Leeds and Bradford region too. The next thing he’s looking to gain may well be a replacement trophy, as tragically his is now in pieces due to a skilful throw of an apple from his two-year-old son.

Gilmore’s twin children, born in 2004, played a large part in his decision to set up on his own. Already highly successful, he left behind the role of chief executive for a global mobile phone company and all the jet-setting the job entailed.

“I was working long hours, often travelling around the world, and I wanted to spend more time closer to home,” Gilmore says. With 14 years of experience under his belt, he decided it was time to move on.

His path towards Hire Intelligence revealed itself gradually. “I was toying with what to do – I didn’t want to work for someone else after being the head of a company, and I didn’t want to be in a role where I was travelling away from home.”

However, Hire Intelligence, which leases IT equipment to customers such as government departments, corporate clients and small enterprises, was a company Gilmore was already familiar with, and he realised that what the company did was “very similar to what I had been doing, just with a different product”.

Gilmore also found himself attracted to the franchise opportunities that Hire Intelligence offered, appreciating the fact he would be running his own business but would already have a product and a brand in place.

Gilmore took the plunge and bought the Manchester franchise. A six-month setting up period involved finding premises, purchasing stock and taking part in a Hire Intelligence training course in London. Further training and an exam also took place in Perth, Australia, where Hire Intelligence’s head office is based.

Gilmore’s £150,000 personal investment covered the cost of purchasing the franchise, as well as rent, vehicles and stock.

He decided to rent a fully equipped, serviced office, so there was also someone to answer the phone, and even help out with the admin “which really helped at the beginning when I was on my own”.

He began trading in August, and from day one was winning business. Gilmore explains that “there was definitely a gap in terms of Hire Intelligence’s locations. There was presence down south and in Scotland but nothing in the middle of the country.”

The obvious demand meant that the franchise was at an advantage. But the success of Gilmore’s venture – the turnover of the first ten months was £93,000, which has already been matched in the three months since July – has not been down to location alone.

Gilmore is extremely aware of the importance of making customers feel valued, saying, “I’ve known how to build relationships so I get some good repeat business. And I’ve never knowingly let anyone down”.

The support from Hire Intelligence also helped Gilmore, but he has appreciated the freedom they have given him. “I now have a franchise manager I can get support from on a daily basis, and I can speak to a franchisor director about once a month. But they let you get on with it. I’m pretty much left alone.”

The growth of the business meant Gilmore had to recruit in April. “I couldn’t cope on my own. We’d have stopped growing unless I employed someone,” he says, and increasing sales meant that by January 2006 Gilmore felt strong enough to expand. When the Leeds/Bradford franchise of Hire Intelligence became available, he snapped it up.

“The person who owned it wanted to get out,” he says. “Now it’s doing OK, it could be doing better but I need to employ someone else so I can focus on outbound sales.”

Gilmore sounds extremely busy. Until he recruits he’s involved in every element of the business, including keeping up with deliveries out on the road. But it’s clear that Gilmore enjoys being his own boss. “The flexibility has been a huge benefit. The benefits definitely outweigh the downsides.” Unsurprisingly, Gilmore recommends acquiring a franchise as an invaluable learning experience for those who want to set up their own business.

“I’ve learnt a lot so I know I could build my own company now, which I am actually thinking of doing.”

First though, ambitious plans are in place for his Hire Intelligence franchises. The revenue of the London franchise is around £1.5m and Gilmore hopes for the North to replicate this within five years.

“The aim is grow a successful company as well as be able to take the kids to school on a morning,” he laughs.

© Crimson Business Ltd. 2006

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