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From retail management to Schmidt business owner

As the saying goes, timing is everything – and that was certainly the case for new Schmidt franchise owner Dave Longman. Although it’s fair to say that it wasn’t necessarily planned to be that way!

“My background has always been in retail management,” explains Dave. “I’ve worked for several big home brands such as Currys, PC World, Topps Tiles, Bathstore. A couple of years ago I then made the move into the car industry. But almost immediately, COVID hit – what were the chances of that!

“Like many people in the country, I was on and off furlough for what felt like an age. It was unpleasantly unpredictable, but the upside was that it gave me time to think about my career. Ultimately I decided that I wanted to work for myself, so I set about looking into franchising.”

Falling for Schmidt

With so many franchise options to choose from, Dave made sure he did his research to find something that met his circumstances and expectations.

“I spent a lot of time looking into franchises, wondering what’s out there,” he says. “I didn’t want to open a franchise where you have to pay lots of money up front before just sitting there and hoping you can sell something to make your money back.

“I discovered that it’s a bit different with Schmidt. They offered a lot of support, both financially and with education on the product and all the training you need to get off to a running start. So while it technically is a franchise, it felt more like I’d be entering a partnership.

“It was then I fell in love with the Schmidt concept.”

Tailor-made for success

Having decided on his future business, it was very much down to business with Schmidt.

“After talking everything through with the Schmidt franchise team, they agreed to come down to Eastbourne to look for potential showroom sites. Once we settled on the perfect location, we had a good measure up and I got involved in the design of the showroom.

“I’d visited other showrooms in Dorking and Sevenaoks in the meantime to help with inspiration, which was also a great opportunity to meet with other franchisees and talk with them about all things Schmidt.”

In recent decades, Schmidt has helped more than 400 people like Dave to successfully run their own business – an achievement made possible thanks to a comprehensive, tailor-made training programme.

“Ahead of opening the showroom, I went on a five-week training course with Schmidt’s franchise team. It was intense because you’re getting a huge amount of information in that time, but it was fantastic. It was certainly enough to make me feel confident about opening the showroom.”

The guidance didn’t end there though.

“I still have training once a month in my own showroom and will do so for the next six months. The support I’ve had is ongoing and just fantastic.”

Sense of pride

Dave’s Schmidt showroom in Eastbourne opened in March 2022, bringing bespoke kitchen and home interior solutions to the seaside town for the first time.

“Standing in this beautiful showroom after it was completed, knowing that it was my business and my place of work, was just incredible,” Dave says.

“I’m so proud of it.”

With his design team hired and his stunning showroom ready to go, it was time to open the doors. But even with his years of retail experience, it was still an anxious moment.

“That first day was quite nerve-wracking; just waiting for the first person to walk in so you can show off all your hard work up to that point. But both I and the designers had total confidence thanks to all the preparation we’d been given.”

Looking to a beautiful future

After a bumpy time during the pandemic, Dave is now able to look ahead to an extremely exciting future running his own business with Schmidt.

He says: “We want to give our customers the best option in our local marketplace, and we believe we offer exactly that. Customers absolutely love the showroom and it really helps bring our exciting range of products to life for them. Everything’s been really, really positive.

“The first sale was a very special moment – especially as it was our first quote as well! It was a great feeling for everyone, and gave us immediate confidence that we’ve got a product that does sell.

“Now we’re looking forward to getting more and more orders!”