From across the pond
This week at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® Home Office we were lucky to have franchise managers from two of the United Kingdom locations attend our Essentials of Franchise Operations class! I had a chance to sit down with Barry Collins, general manager of the Watford franchise, and Alistair Sheddon, general manager of the Chiswick and Hayes locations, during lunch one day to talk about differences between U.S. and UK moving, what it was like meeting other managers, and their experience visiting Niagara Falls.
Q: First off, tell me a bit about yourself and your background; how long have you been with the company?
Alistair: I started in the Royal Navy as a weapons engineer, and after leaving, I have had several management roles before joining the British Oxygen Company (BOC). I’ve been with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® since June 17 of this year.
Barry: I started my working life as a London bus driver when I was 18. I did this for two years and gained good insights into excellent customer service. I worked a few New Year’s Eves, and there were some interesting characters to manage!
When I was 23, after working as a driver in several different industries, I gained a role at BOC as a sales and service associate.
It was at BOC where I met Alistair who became my manager. There I became responsible for managing an £8 million revenue distribution operation and I gained invaluable operation experience. My next role in BOC was to move to Manchester to become an account manager until 2009.
I have been with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® since July 8, 2013.
Q: What drew you to TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®?
Alistair: After 17 years I took redundancy from a senior management role to start my own business, and came across TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® in a job ad. After researching the company, understanding the brand, and reading all the reviews, I saw that everything had a nice light touch, a real feel-good factor. It definitely has lived up to my expectations.
Barry: After four years of working in direct sales for a telecommunication company I decided to move back to London. So I called Alastair to find out what he was up to and he told me about TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®. I was able to learn about the company from the bottom up starting as a customer service representative, and now I’m in a management position.
Q: Are there any major differences between moving in the U.S. versus the UK that you know of?
Alistair: The average order value is about the same, but more to move. People in the UK seem to keep more stuff. For instance our largest truck carries 1,800 cubes, while the U.S. ones carry 1,300.
Barry: We also have major issues with space. Our inner city roads are very tight and we have occasions where vehicles simply don’t fit down the road.
Q: What is unique about moving Londoners?
Alistair: Traffic. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to seven hours to drive 12 miles into the city.
Barry: Well, three weeks ago, I was asked to move a smart car in one of my trucks so the client didn’t have to drive it to the north east. Naturally I refused.
Q: What is your favorite American food/custom/place?
Alistair: New Orleans, definitely. I have the best memories of New Orleans. I went there when I was in the Royal Navy. We went to Niagara Falls before we came here though.
Barry: As this is my first trip to the States, I would say Niagara Falls, although I’m looking forward to spending the weekend in Chicago.
Alistair: And you know what else? We love vanilla lattes now!
Barry: Oh yes, those are delicious.
Q: What is the most valuable thing you have learned at Essentials of Franchise Operations this week?
Alistair: That we are not that different, the system transgresses borders. Also the contacts, now when I have a question, I know who I can reach out and call, the other managers are there to help.
Barry: The most valuable lesson for me is also that we are not as different as I thought. When I came I was worried that our market would restrict us but having sat through EFO, it’s clear to me the system works, no matter what country you are in. We need to make slight changes, yes, but overall we are the same.
To learn more about the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise system and franchising opportunities visit our website.