With talk of a second Covid-19 lockdown never out of the news headlines and a re-emerging national health crisis, the idea of starting a new business could seem like madness. Knowing how demand might shape up and fare is typically hard to predict, with so many economic downturns and upswings happening continually. For many, it is too big a gamble to take.
Not so for all, however. The first UK lockdown proved the absolute resilience of a professional property sector franchise that continued to see franchisees flourish during the pandemic but, more importantly, proved the efficacy of the business model when it came to recruiting, comprehensively training and launching new franchise businesses. Such was the attractiveness of the business model that enquiries never dried up and such was the keenness to get on and do the job that a cohort of franchisees were willing to sign their franchise agreements having never met the Aspray team face-to-face, but having been through all the protocols and due diligence using video conferencing technology.
Aspray’s renowned training programme, which usually sees franchisees travelling to undertake two weeks of induction delivered by Aspray’s training team in person, was also reformatted to become a digitally delivered programme, again using video conferencing technology. Despite all of this, there has been no loss in effectiveness and various waves of training have taken place.
In total, since the start of 2020, 7 new Aspray franchisees have joined the franchise network of the award-winning, Darwen-headquartered loss assessing and property claims management franchisee. 6 of those were trained during the first covid lockdown and are now running franchises as far apart, geographically, as London and Sheffield. They have no qualms about a second UK lockdown, recognising that demand for their service is always there, if consumers are aware of it.
The service they provide could actually be in even more demand if a second covid lockdown comes, as this one would be in the months that bring in the weather-related storm and flood damage property claims that follow loss at the hands of gales, freak storms and burst riverbanks. These types of property claim will not respect the fact that a health crisis is writ large across the UK; the weather will wreak havoc no matter what. Under the current circumstances, however, the need for someone on your side of the fence during your property insurance claim could be more important than ever.
At a time when insurers are continuing to erode consumer trust in them to do the right thing, challenging a High Court decision that ruled against them when it came to their non-payment of business interruption claims for covid, the insurer mood when it comes to being harsh on claims seems to be an unrepentant one within many firms, driven by financial losses. At a time when any large scale property damage would be soul destroying for anyone having to work from home, shielding or self-isolating, they may well need someone who can argue strongly for them to have a speedy claims resolution and safe and secure alternative accommodation whilst repairs take place.
Step up the Aspray team, for whom helping others is one of the main motivations for starting a franchise business, as evidenced in the charitable work and ‘going the extra mile’ that so many of them do. For many consumers, they are the caped crusaders in their insurance claim negotiations, helping them to get their rightful entitlement from their policy cover and not allowing loss adjusters to contain the cost of the claim in such a way as to deprive them of their just settlement.
For other customers, it is about having an emotional prop and someone handling things for them, taking away stress, confusion, or a burden they do not have time – or the means – to sort out for themselves.
And when it comes to ‘sorting out’, for most Aspray customers, that means an end-to-end service, from first notification of claim or a call requesting help midway through a claim or after one has been declined, to the final sign-off of the schedule of works required to repair and reinstate the property.
Every Aspray franchisee has their own team of vetted contractors, with whom they work on a regular basis and who can handle all of the customer’s repair work, under their project management supervision. If the customer is happy for Aspray to handle the repairs in this way, the Aspray service usually costs them absolutely nothing; all they have to pay is the excess on their policy which they agreed with their insurer.
This is a big deal for most property owners, not only taking away all the headache of finding tradespeople and trying to oversee repairs themselves, but also removing the fears associated with cowboy builders and the legal responsibility for the health and safety of tradespeople working at their home. Having a team that can just move in and crack on, also often means that repairs are handled faster.
It is the beauty of this model that is making the Aspray franchise business Covid-proof and more in demand than ever. If consumers knew how difficult it is to contact insurance claims departments operating with reduced numbers of staff, due to furlough and sickness, and others working from home, even more would probably be making an early call to Aspray a priority when notifying their claim.
But the actions of insurers in general has been the biggest boost for the Aspray service, as the consumer belief that insurers would do the right thing by them has been eroded and the insurers’ refusal to accept even the FCA’s belief that they should pay Covid-related business interruption claims, well publicised.
In a year that has hit many franchises and other types of business so hard, Aspray Franchise is still going strong, as consumers realise that what its dedicated, hard-working and caring franchisees do, as property claims and reinstatement managers, is a valuable and attractive proposition, of appeal to almost any type of domestic or commercial property owner, from any demographic, who has suffered property damage and its impacts and who has an insurance policy that may cover it, if their cover is sufficient and they have a loss assessor who will argue that it is and should not be called into question.
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