Gary joined Aspray in 2007 and is having such a good time with his Aspray business that he is in the process of renewing his agreement for another 5 years.
What did you do before joining Aspray?
I am a qualified Civil Engineer and previously worked 15 years for Taylor Woodrow and had my own consultancy partnership for 6 years prior to joining Aspray. I also refurbished a number of properties which I now rent out and when I stumbled across Aspray I felt my skill set and interests were a perfect fit for the business model
What do you think about training?
I am a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers so have to keep my CPDs up to date but I am a firm believer that ‘you can never know enough’. I’ve attended many of the training courses offered by Head Office over the years and really enjoyed and benefitted from them all – from Presentation Skills which helped me with my networking to acquiring the qualification of Water Restoration Technician from the Flood School in Farnborough. Knowledge gives you the strength and confidence to get what you want and deserve from any work be it an insurance claim or private work. I do enjoy learning not least because I know that it ensures a better margin.
What area of the business do you most enjoy and why?
Getting paid – I love my job but don’t do it for love! Seriously though, I really enjoy having the craic (as the Irish say) onsite with the contractors. I have a great bunch of subbies that I have known for a number of years and have full trust in their capabilities which makes my job easier.
What area of the business do you least like and why?
Putting schedules together late at night which sometimes have to be done if you are very busy. Also ringing an 0845 number and waiting on hold for the insurance company. Lost a good few hours of my life over the last 6 years doing that – but that’s exactly why people need our service and if they have ever had to call the insurer themselves they really appreciate what I do for them!
How do you market your business?
As my business is maturing I now receive a lot more referral work. This didn’t happen overnight but I did get lucky on a few occasions. I religiously went to BNI for months and got nothing from the members, then one week a broker visited our chapter and we hit it off. He gave me a difficult test job which went well and things progressed from there. I also visited another BNI chapter myself and met an Estate and Management Agent and the same thing happened. These relationships have grown from there.
I’ve left BNI now and joined a spin off networking group who are cheaper – we still pay but every 3 months we invite a charity and give them our subs. They also put less pressure on referring work but that is still the objective of the group and we still make a 10 minute presentation weekly.
I can’t just rely on this work however and have recently signed up with a Business Coach who is helping me with running and developing my business. He is expensive but I’m a few months in now and starting to see a return on my investment. When you’re employed you have your boss to answer to – one reason why people enjoy working for themselves – but the down side of being your own boss is you are only accountable to you so it’s much easier to let things slide. My business coach is on my case every day giving me the push and reminder to get things done.
What about Gary the man?
Gary DenmanI turned 50 last year and, as you do, re-evaluated life. I decided after 10 years of coaching football to youngsters I wanted more time to my golf. Plus my son no longer played so I had less personal interest.
But age is just a state of mind and no one should have to act it all the time – you’ll see I don’t from this photo taken of me at my 50th birthday party (a tribute to the 70s and 80s) – the pretty blonde girl is my niece, my wife is much younger!
What did you do before joining Aspray?
So far my career has been mainly in retail and most recently spent 8 years as a store manager for PC World. I also worked for Virgin Megastores and ran the store on the Kings Road in Chelsea. My best customer there was Elton John who would regularly come in and buy 3 copies of everything to distribute around his various properties.