Snap-on Tools: Double topTim and Nigel Slater have a lot in common: they are brothers, they are twins and they love Snap-on Tools.
Tim was first to join the company in 1982. At that time, he was a Snap-on customer when a visit from his dealer changed his life. "He'd come to the garage on his weekly visit and I needed the lock fixing on my tool box," he says. "He was fitting the new lock and suddenly asked me if I had any money. I thought he was trying to sell me a new tool box, but he said, 'No no, I mean - real money!' He wanted me to take up a franchise."
Tim was flattered, and intrigued. He followed it up quickly and began to feel a real sense of excitement when he went on some van rides. He visited his bank manager and raised enough money to buy in to the business.
That was 26 years ago and he's still enthusiastic, although that was never the plan in the beginning. "I had no intention of sticking at it," he explains. "Initially, I used it as an opportunity to raise funds to start my own body shop. Once I'd started, I could see the potential to make very good money."
Tim, like all successful franchisees, followed the plan. He had no previous business experience, but applied himself and has progressed to become a manager responsible for a group of franchisees. "I always promote the business format," he enthuses. "You can always tell if someone isn't following it, because it shows straight away in their sales. It's usually quite straightforward to fix though. It can be a simple thing like not taking product into a garage. You'd be amazed what a difference that can make."
Twin brother Nigel came on board soon after Tim, and today both are flourishing. "It feels good to see him doing so well," says Tim. "In fact, he's overtaken me. Today, Nigel has four employees and the best sales figures in the UK, but in a way I'm not surprised. I've always loved cars but Nigel is the one with a passion for tools... ever since we were kids."
The first time their parents gave Nigel pocket money he knew exactly what to spend it on. "I had to get a screwdriver!" he recalls. "I used to press my head up against the local ironmonger's window and covet the shiny tools." His fascination with fixing things continued and he naturally became a mechanic. He enjoyed it enormously at first but then he realised he wanted more than his mechanic's income could provide.
He discovered he had a talent for selling, and became a sales rep. The salary wasn't bad, but he still needed to supplement his income by fixing cars at weekends. Then the real turning point happened - his brother Tim became a Snap-on franchisee.
"I'd be mending a car in the wind and rain and Tim would pull up in his Jaguar. It made me think - I want some of that!" He hasn't looked back since. "It's hard work, but it's also really rewarding. When I was a mechanic I must have run miles trying to get motor bikes started and that's what it felt like - a treadmill. Now I'm in a great business that makes me proud ... I never stop smiling!"
Tim feels equally positive "I've gone from a two bedroom terraced house to a five bedroom detached luxury bungalow. I have a fabulous collection of classic cars and I never worry about money. Life couldn't be better!"
Snap-on Tools offers a wide range of capabilities and solutions for professional tool users. Snap-on pioneered the idea of direct sales and service to motor vehicle technicians, right at their place of business, while providing credit programmes so they could purchase the tools. It concentrates on selling high-quality tools and equipment to professional mechanics through a network of professional dealers (franchisees).
Investment level: Total investment: £59,500
+ cost of van
Min liquid capital: £10,000