Brand builder finds success

AT JUST twenty-seven years of age Sara Clowes took on the ailing Finishing Touch car detailing business.

Nearly two years on, the franchise is coming back with a vengeance.

Ms Clowes said the company had been started in 1988 by an entrepreneur and it grew to have forty operators on the road.

However, by 1996, the business had become too stressful for him and he decided to move on and explore other business opportunities.

“There were two more owners before I took over Finishing Touch in October 1998,” Ms Clowes said.

“Those people did not have a love of cars.

“When I took over the business it was doing about 500 details a month. Now we’re doing about 1,500 a month.”

The business now has thirty-three operators on the road. It also has a static site in Cannington to which cars can be brought for a more comprehensive detail.

“There, because we have a hoist, we can blacken the undersides of cars. We also have a facility to remove all the seats in the car for cleaning,” Ms Clowes said.

She said the operators on the road could do full details including paint touch-ups and upholstery repairs.

“We even cleaned a plane once,” Ms Clowes said.

She said she had always wanted to work in brand management.

“I love the idea of building a brand,” Ms Clowes said.

“To come across a brand in such bad shape and be able to put my own stamp on it was irresistible. I felt the company needed a strong, memorable brand.

“The car detailing market up to that point had been unprofessional. I really wanted to bring professionalism to the industry.

“We started by making sure there was a proper training and occupational safety and health program in place.

“I didn’t want the brand to just look good. It had to have something solid behind it.”

Ms Clowes said the first part of her plan had been to build dominance in the metropolitan area.

Now she is setting the groundwork for moves into the regions and then interstate.

“We’re in negotiations with people to take on franchises in Mandurah,” Ms Clowes said.

“We also have a number of people around Brisbane interested in taking on regional franchises there.”

To build on the interstate move, Ms Clowes is exhibiting in the Franchising and Business Opportunities expo in Sydney later in March.

She even has plans to take the franchise overseas.

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