Each year Aspray award one standout representative the title of Franchisee of the Year. This individual should show not only excellent customer service and claims management, but all-round business acumen, a willingness to share best practice and network involvement.

Spending the day with Franchisee, Sara Holmes of Aspray (Sunderland), it is clear to see why she was the obvious winner and named Franchisee of the Year at the 2021 Aspray National Conference.   

Sara Holmes - Franchisee of the Year Winner

Franchisee of the Year

It was certainly a tense moment at the Aspray national conference as the nominees of the 2021 Franchisee of the Year were announced but applause erupted as Sara was declared the winner.

 “It was an absolute surprise to me,” said Sara. “I’m absolutely delighted. Over the last three and a half years, I have put a lot into this business, there has been extreme high highs and low lows. Winning the Franchisee of the Year award just makes all that worthwhile.

Every time I complete a claim and I get a thank you from a customer, it feels amazing and to be acknowledged by Aspray for doing what I do, when there are so many other people that do it, was just incredible.”

Outstanding Claims Management

Now into her fourth year as an Aspray franchisee, Sara has come across all sorts of insurance claims from small escapes of water to large fire claims and more recently, extensive storm damage. Visiting a survey onsite at a property that has suffered severe water damage, Sara’s professionalism and attention to detail was hard to miss.

In a property where a leak in the ensuite had spread throughout the apartment, Sara was working to get the claim authorised and works underway as quickly as possible. For the young family, a trainee doctor, his wife, and their toddler triplets, bringing Sara on to manager their claim meant they could be certain that all the damage was accounted for, as it was Sara’s expertise that discovered the extent of the water saturation throughout the property. Failing to spot this type of damage could lead to dry-rot and further claims in years to come.

Having someone on your side when you need to make a property insurance claim is something many policyholders find a relief. “Most people, when you meet them for the first time, will say to you, I’ve never made an insurance claim in my life and I don’t know where to start,” said Sara. “And to be able to run through in a very methodical way what systems we have in place to take them through that process is great. You can be very reassuring to people from the outset.”

Storm Arwen

“I now look at the weather in a very different way.”  Sara Holmes.

In late 2021, much of Scotland and Northeast England were battered by Storm Arwen, a weather front deemed so dangerous the met office issued a rare red weather warning throughout the area.

For Sara, it was vital that preparations were made with her contractors to ensure that they could be on-hand, if needed. However, no amount of planning could prepare Sara and her contractors for the sheer magnitude of damage that was caused across the region. “Over a 48-hour period we received over 100 calls,” Sara explained. “Trying to triage them calls to make sure that contractors were going to the right claims at the right time and that vulnerable customers were identified quickly so that we could help them through the process in a slightly different way, with a much more hands-on approach, we got through all of that within a couple of days.”

Praising the work of her contractors, Sara was adamant that she could not have provided her service without them, and for that, she would like to share her award with each and every one of them.

Customer Care

When working in someone’s home or their business premises, especially at a time of crisis, a trustworthy, likeable, and friendly professional is needed to build repour with the customer quickly. Sara’s passion for her customers is obvious in the way she focuses on the “individual” behind the claim, getting to know her customers on a personal level and understanding their needs and apprehensions.  

Sara - Customer Quote

Sara said: “Your involvement with the customer is quite in-depth. Sometimes you get to know more about somebody’s life. Sometimes there are traumatic events happening in someone’s life when you are dealing with their claims.”

The thanks that come at the end of each claim, when a reinstated property is returned to its owner, is what Sara attributes as the most rewarding part of her job. Her exceptional customer service is shown in every review that she receives, and her 5/5 rating proves her outstanding service is much needed by policyholders across the region.