The day after Gordon Finlay flew back from holiday he made a life-changing decision. Looking round the Franchise Show, he came upon the FiltaFry stand. By June 2002 he was running his own FiltaFry business.
Before the Show, Gordon had been looking to set up a business in Lincoln, but he saw that FiltaFry could give him the opportunity to return to his hometown of Newcastle upon Tyne. Luckily for him his wife, Joanne, and young kids Lydia and Harry, supported his decision – and he’s never looked back.
Gordon is familiar with the problems of owning and managing a business. He had run a general store and, before that, had been manager of an estate agency. So he has plenty of experience to call on in commenting on the FiltaFry set-up. “I found no hidden problems, no uncertainties,” says Gordon. “The market for the service is there – I get most of my new customers by word of mouth. Once chefs see how good the service is, they tell their friends and managers. And Filta helps with securing bigger customers, for example my Business Development Manager is happy to phone or meet key management in National Accounts to back my pitch.
“The Filta support package is excellent, and the training is first class, too. Within a few months of start-up I was earning a steady £800 a week, working around 30 to 35 hours. Like the man says, FiltaFry does exactly what it says on the can!”
The FiltaFry service looks after oil used for frying in commercial catering kitchens. ‘Oil-management’ is a huge task for most caterers, and one that all kitchen staff hate. An on-site micro-filtration and oil purification service, the FiltaFry programme takes over much of the routine tasks (and problems) of both oil management and fryer equipment cleaning.
“The actual process is easy,” says Gordon. “The FiltaFry system is designed to be simple to operate and efficient. Basically, if you follow the procedures in the FiltaFry manual, you can’t go wrong.”
Given the number of catering sites in every part of the country, almost all of them with a deep fat fryer, the market is huge. Just as importantly, in terms of selling the service, the programme of protecting and managing cooking oil can result in significant savings in oil costs and preservation of cooking quality.
So, FiltaFry franchisees do a job that their customers hate. In doing it, they save their customers money and help improve their food. It’s hardly surprising, then, that Gordon and his fellow FiltaFry franchisees are creating profitable businesses across the UK.
What makes a good franchisee? Again, Gordon can speak with some authority. “Reliability is what the customers want. Obviously being friendly with customers is important, and taking pride in your appearance, including the van: it’s a great advert for the business.
“Going that extra yard at a job is the way to keep your customers happy. I’ll not only do the job I’m there for, I’ll also maybe spend an extra five minutes to ensure everything is perfect. When the chef sees the improved quality of their fried food, they’re delighted.”
Of course, running your own business is not just about money, there are other rewards, too. Gordon is a life-long Newcastle United fan, and now he’s looking after the fryers in the Magpies’ stadium!