Meet Andrew Walmsley, Franchisor of Concept Claim Solutions.
Andy Walmsley, Group Operations Director and Franchisor of Concept Claim Solutions, shares a unique insight into the property insurance sector. He explains the changes to the brand, the significant investments in the franchise starter package and the way the business adapted to overcome changes in the market.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have been with Concept since 2002. Before joining the business, I held several Board Level positions and trained as an Accountant.
What is your role in the company?
I am responsible for developing and overseeing all operational strategies and play a key part in driving the business forward. My role involves improving processes to achieve greater efficiencies and high levels of customer satisfaction whilst ensuring the working environment actively encourages collaboration and provides the network with the tools required to run a profitable business.
Can you tell us about the business – including why the company choose to go down the franchise route?
The first franchise started in 2001 and there are currently 50 operational territories in the UK. Concept’s franchise partners are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to manage policyholders’ property damage insurance claims. The complete service, from the initial survey right through to the satisfactory completion of the repairs, is at no cost to the customer.
Several factors attracted us to the franchise route, there was a huge gap within the marketplace for the service, along with, it offering a proven way to grow market share without compromising our customer centric values, franchisees are highly motivated and financially invested in protecting the reputation of the brand.
What differentiates your franchise from the competition?
One key differentiator is experience. Concept is the longest established claims solutions franchise and is part of the Insurance Solutions Group, which is a UK wide, specialist group of 7 companies with over 35 years of operating in the insurance sector and with multiple franchise brands within its portfolio. The companies have either been organically grown from start-up or strategically acquired to complement the Group’s existing service offerings.
There is nothing stronger than real-life experience, franchise partners benefit from the latest industry insight and being able to access an array of vital resources such as qualified surveyors and specialist contractors.
Why is the franchise a great investment for potential franchisees?
In the UK, property damage insurance claims amount to over £3 billion each year meaning the service is always in demand. Concept will continue to have stable revenue streams regardless of whether the economy is up or down. For the past two decades, the franchise model has produced consistently great results for our franchise partners.
What makes a successful franchisee? What qualities do you look for in a franchisee?
I believe success is directly linked to choosing a franchise business that resonates with your interests. If you are doing something that you enjoy, this, in turn, creates energy and a drive to succeed. We are all motivated to do things that play to our strengths, even when we are tired and stressed.
When it comes to recruitment, owing to the excellence of the training and ongoing support, it does not matter if you have no prior experience of managing building works or knowledge of insurance. We look for people who are open to self-development, ambitious and determined to build a lucrative, customer focused business.
How did your franchise adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic?
During Covid, more than ever, customers needed our service. Commercial properties and homes were still experiencing the same levels of damage caused by fires, burst pipes, storms and floods.
At the height of the pandemic, some of our new franchisees struggled to find contractors, this was being exacerbated by an increase in demand for home improvements and the buoyancy of the housing market. To adapt and create strong foundations for sustainable growth a new resilient contractor supply chain strategy was developed, which leverages the Insurance Solutions Group economies of scale. New franchise partners now have access to a nationwide network of contractors who can be appointed and managed by the Head Office.
Furthermore, we embraced internet-based tools and technology to streamline the operations of the network. An example is the new cloud-based CRM system which will achieve a reduction in the amount of time franchise partners spend on administration.
What other challenges have you had to overcome and adapt to in your franchise and the industry in general?
One challenge is the rapid pace of digitalisation specifically, customers increased reliance on search engines to find services and products. To respond to the growing trend, search engine optimisation has become a top priority and was a driving factor in the recent decision to slightly change the name from Concept Building Solutions to Concept Claim Solutions. The change of name will improve the brand’s customer reach but most importantly it will help people to quickly identify the main service offering.
The franchise starter package was updated to include significant investments into web-based advertising campaigns with generous pay per click promotions to boost online visibility and ultimately grow lead generation. Also, as part of the initial franchise fee, Concept’s accountancy provider will complete the year one final accounts and tax returns for all new franchisees.
What are your growth targets? What does the future hold for the business and have you got plans to expand internationally?
Growth will be achieved organically and from recruiting a selected number of new franchise partners. Continued investments will be made into upskilling the existing network and increasing the Head Office support team to ensure people always have someone to turn to for help, whether it’s for emotional support, business development or technical advice.
Expanding the business internationally is a consideration for the future, if done right, it can be a significant driver of growth.