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  • Writer's pictureWilkins Chimney Sweep

Wilkins Chimney Sweep franchisee reaches finals of national awards!

Kris McLernon (33) owner of the Lanarkshire franchise of Wilkins Chimney Sweep, has made the finals of the 2022 Scottish Ex-Forces in Business Awards, in the New Service Leaver category.

The awards highlight the achievements of ex-military personnel, their success since leaving the forces and the organisations that have supported them. The New Service Leaver category recognises men and women who left the military less than three years ago and are already achieving great things in a second career. Kris left the army in April 2020 after 14 years as a recovery mechanic with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

A young man with brown hair stands in front of a body of water. You can see hills in the background. He is wearing army clothing. On top of his uniform he is wearing a bullet proof vest.His hands are tucked into the shoulder straps of the vest. His face is dirty from operations. He is looking off into the distance.
Kris McLernon as a soldier in the REME


In August 2021 Kris bought his local Wilkins Chimney Sweep franchise, using a ‘no money down’ special offer, intended to help people looking for new careers during the pandemic.

A man stands in front of his van, smiling. He is wearing black work overalls and is carrying a chimney sweeping brush over his right shoulder. He is looking at the camera and smiling. The van is sign written with the name of his company - Wilkins Chimney Sweep.
Kris McLernon, owner of Wilkins Chimney Sweep (Lanarkshire), finalist in the Scottish Ex-Forces in Business Awards 2022

Chimney sweep training

Following extensive training by the franchisor, Kris now sweeps open chimneys, wood burning stoves, Agas, Jetmasters, Rayburns and biomass boilers and fits cages caps and cowls to homes and businesses across Lanarkshire.

Operations manager Richard Bryan who trained Kris said: “I knew he was going to be good from the very start of training. Kris is organised focussed and disciplined. He picked it all up very quickly. He regularly uses our company WhatsApp group, picking the brains of the other franchisees, who have been running their own businesses and sweeping chimneys for many years.”

Satisfied customers

Franchise manager Lisa Kimber said: “After just six months, Kris is doing an incredible job, far in front of where we would expect him to be at this stage. He is very independent, continually coming up with new ideas to market and advertise his business. He thinks for himself but always checks with head office first, which is great. Kris is very driven and his customers really rate him. It usually takes a while for a sweep to get word of mouth referrals but just six months in and he is receiving them regularly, a huge testimonial to the service he provides.”

Military career

Looking back on his military career Kris said: “I loved my time in the army but decided to leave during the pandemic; everyone advised me against it but, I listened to my gut and made the move. I did a few driving jobs initially, then I found Wilkins Chimney Sweep.”

Large network of franchisees

Talking about the franchising sector Kris said: “I think people misunderstand franchising – although the company trained me to do the job and they are on hand if I have any questions, it is 100% me out there every day, sweeping chimneys, fitting cages, getting sooty then going home to work on social media posts and advertising campaigns. I haven’t bought myself a job, I’ve invested in a brand with a great reputation, an existing presence on the internet, a large network of other franchisees and an experienced franchisor to ask advice from, but the success of my business is entirely down to me. As the saying goes, I’m in business for myself but not by myself.”

Flexible working hours

He continued: “Unlike a regular 9-5 job, when you run your own business, you never switch off, but equally I have so much more flexibility in my life. If I want some time off to be with my daughter or attend a special event, I can, that is a major plus point for me; my diary and my day are my own. I would thoroughly recommend anyone who is leaving the forces to consider a Wilkins Chimney Sweep franchise.”

Corp Colonel, Colonel Jason Phillips

Corp Colonel, Colonel Jason Phillips ADC REME said: “It’s fantastic to see Kris achieve so much since leaving the REME and in such quick time. He is clearly a determined, dynamic and proactive individual. We are proud that our Corps has been an important part of his journey and proud to see him reach the finals of the Scottish Ex-Forces in Business Awards. Best of luck in the final Kris, be sure to keep us informed of your successes.”

British Franchise Association

Pip Wilkins, CEO of the British Franchise Association said: “The BFA is extremely proud of this new franchisee and all the hard work he has put in to becoming a nominated finalist in this leading category. He is really showing what can be achieved by using a military background in precision and applying it to owning his own business. He’s an excellent example of someone coming from the military and using this applied learning to successfully start their own business.”

Discounts for ex-military personnel

Wilkins Chimney Sweep is owned by Taylor Made Franchising who also own the following franchise brands; StumpBusters, PVC Vendo, Thomas Cleaning, Iconic Window Cleaning Mister Tacho and Broadway Wine. Discounts are available for ex-military personnel. Please contact Alan McClean for more details or ring 07450 940 312.

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