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Franchise Case studies

From Garden Shed to National Player
Here’s a nice story. It shows that hard work combined with the right business strategy can lead to amazing success. And yes – it really did start in a garden shed!

Speedy Freight is the company and the strategy for growth they employed? Well, franchising of course. This story is a perfect demonstration of how franchising can help businesses overcome the hurdles of limited funds, attracting good people and tapping into local knowledge to achieve rapid growth.

But there are two other important factors to their success: firstly, that they sought professional advice at an early stage from an experienced franchise consultant – in this case Stafford Cant of The Franchising Centre. Secondly, they recognised right from the start that ultimately they wanted to franchise the business, so they took advice and developed the business in a way that would make the franchising process simple when the time was right.

Speedy Freight is a same-day courier business that was started by Ian Southworth and Mike Le Gallez in 2006. With much ambition but a tight budget, they started trading from old horse stables at the bottom of Ian's garden in Knutsford. Ian brought a wealth of experience in logistics gained from the ground up, starting as a courier driver when he left school. Mike brought sales and management experience from a previous role as a Regional Sales Manager for a management company.

The first 6 months were tough - it required a strong sales approach to bring clients over from their existing courier companies to a brand new start up. By being tenacious and focussing on specialist sectors, Speedy Freight slowly started to build their portfolio of regular same-day courier clients. In addition, they recognised that if they made the effort from day one to organise and systemise their operations in an efficient way, they could in the future pass that way of operating to their franchisees.

The model was to be effective but simple - an efficient office offering excellent client service by concentrating on serving those clients and managing logistics and an excellent standard of drivers and vehicles by recruiting self-employed drivers that were fitted out and trained in an at-cost package to serve fully liveried and uniformed under the Speedy Freight brand.

By their 18th month, Speedy Freight had grown to a turnover of more than £600,000, almost doubling to £1.1m by their second full year. In 2010 and with a turnover of £1.5m, they felt they had 'walked enough of the walk' to prove the model to franchisees, pass on a huge amount of time-tested experience and to develop the high standard of franchise they had always intended for the brand.

Working with Stafford Cant of The Franchising Centre, Speedy Freight developed an effective franchise model that would be more lucrative for franchisees. Infrastructure, systems and a high level of support were developed to support franchisees that would replicate the head-office model rather than to franchise individual courier drivers like other competing franchisees.

The franchise started to roll out in 2011 and was an instant hit. Even the slowest developing franchisees were reporting sales of £10,000 per month from their fourth month which was to do, in the large part, with the very high levels of initial on-site support that Speedy Freight offers - getting their sleeves rolled up to help develop a strong initial base of regular customers for franchisees by going out with them into the market and 'knocking on doors'.

By the end of the second year of franchising, 10 successful franchisees were trading, bringing Speedy Freight some £350,000 in joining fees and increasing network turnover by up to £2m, with more than 300 subcontracted drivers dedicated to the brand and hundreds of others serving excess and specialist vehicle trips on an ad-hoc basis.

Now in 2015, Speedy Freight has 30 franchised offices that offer national coverage. The franchise continues to grow from strength to strength and having joined the British Franchise Association is hoping to add another 10 franchised offices in 2015. Network turnover exceeds £5m and has established major national contracts with household names like John Lewis.

Speedy Freight demonstrates that with a tenacious approach, hard work and the right specialised advice from consultants like The Franchising Centre, you can dare to dream. Speedy Freight did and in less than 10 years has grown from hard working friends working from the bottom of the garden to a leading national business and franchise - something they were Sonly able to achieve through the power of franchising and the accelerated national network of quality offices it allowed Speedy Freight to build.

For Stafford Cant of The Franchising Centre it was a rewarding project. He commented “I always enjoy my work – there is nothing better than feeling I have helped a business to take a big step forward in it’s growth. But a story like Speedy Freight’s is just fantastic. We are all well versed in the theory of franchising, but to see it in practice propel a business from garden shed to national player in under ten years is deeply satisfying.”

Are we doing this right?
This is the heart warming story of a young couple who approached us seeking some reassurance and who then went on to become the leader in their field within 5 years!

Their business teaches babies to swim. Early on they realised that it was a business idea which was 'The right idea at the right time' and that it had the potential to grow and be successful. The challenge was how to grow it beyond a small business operating on a local basis.

The answer revealed itself when a family member in the South West and a friend in Scotland said they liked the business and with the consent of the owners set up similar operations.

It was at this point that the owners realised they had a franchise on their hands and sought our advice. Initially, we were requested to carry out a fairly informal review of the franchise and answer the question "Are we doing this right?"

However, they were bright, ambitious people and what they really wanted was to grow their business in the right way. It soon became clear that the real challenge was how to develop a properly structured franchise system and drive growth on a very limited budget.

It was here that our flexible approach to working with our clients came into its own. We identified two key factors; they were highly intelligent, very professional and had the personal characteristics to be great franchisors. Secondly, we were confident that the franchise could grow through word of mouth without the need for a large marketing budget.

What they didn't need was a 'One size fits all' franchise development programme. What they did need was for us to have faith in their abilities and provide some guidance in the key areas.

Our approach was to provide the basic structure for a professional franchise with guidance on best practice. The client then built the franchise operating system based on our advice and we reviewed progress at regular intervals.

This was of course very hard work for them as it had to be done alongside running the business. However, the end result was a franchise model that both we and they felt met the professional standards required.

And the results speak for themselves – the company is now the largest provider of swimming lessons for babies in the UK teaching more than 15,000 clients a week. In addition, the business has indeed grown by word of mouth – no money has been spent on franchise marketing in achieving its national coverage!

The challenge was to develop a professionally structured franchise and achieve significant growth working with a limited budget and we are delighted to have helped such nice people achieve their goal.

Not for profit meets franchising
This client is one of the two big owner / operators of campsites in the UK. It is a “Not for profit” members organisation whose objective is to provide as many high quality camping locations to its membership as possible.

But of course, there is a problem here – the cost of campsites has soared over the years, with any sort of reasonable site costing in to the millions to purchase.

The organisation looked at various possibilities for continued growth, but kept coming up against the same obstacles – the cost of new campsites and the fact that as a not-for-profit, it was naturally risk averse and therefore limited in its financing options.

At this point, desperate for a solution one of the more commercially minded directors decided to investigate franchising, even though it didn't feel like a natural fit for this type of organisation.

The “Eureka” moment came for the client during initial discussions when we were able to satisfy them on two vital points: using franchisees capital to finance the growth of their organisation was a perfectly acceptable business strategy if done in a responsible, controlled manner. And that the template for a franchise owned site could be created and implemented to the exact model that they required.

Not surprisingly, getting the go ahead for the franchising project was a long, drawn out process because of the nature of the organisation. But once the OK was given the client, to their credit, gave us their utter trust and we became an integral part of the project team.

The franchise project was completed and launched with great interest in the camping sector. What seemed like a brave and unlikely decision for the board to take has been heralded as a great success and helped the client steal a march on their main competitor.

The client has now increased its' national coverage of campsites beyond the scope of their own investment horizons. In addition, the quality of franchisees recruited means that franchised sites operate to a very high standard to the delight of the members.

Don't jump!
The client was a long established, professional estate agency business based in Dublin. They were well known and respected in Dublin and were rightly proud of the reputation they had built up over many years. However, the management wanted to grow the business and move from being perceived as a steady local business to an innovative leader in Dublin and beyond – a big challenge given the competitive nature of the business!

The client had looked at the various options available to them and settled on franchising as the best strategy to achieve their aims. Having studied franchising at length, it seemed to the client that the best route was to invest in a master licence and develop their business as part of another franchise system.

We first met the client at a franchise exhibition. By this time they had been courted by one of the large North American real estate franchises and were preparing to sign the master licence contract. The visit to the franchise exhibition was basically post purchase affirmation.

By chance a member of our team that had been UK Director of a similar North American real estate franchise was on our exhibition stand. The client asked for a meeting “Just to make sure we are doing the right thing”.

On spending some time with the client at their Dublin head office, it quickly became clear that this was no ordinary estate agency. They were very forward thinking, invested heavily in people and had a very bright and ambitious team. In short, they had everything they needed to develop their own franchise system without paying a large amount for a master licence and losing their own identity.

Our role then was threefold – to help the client recognise that they could do it themselves, to instil them with sufficient confidence to go for it and finally to work closely as part of their team to develop the franchise.

The results could not have been better. The client had a fantastic attitude to the project, putting together a brilliant team who quickly understood what was required and who went on to develop a truly professional franchise offering with our support.

When the franchise was launched the reaction was incredible and the business grew very quickly. The client is now by far and away the leading estate agency in Ireland with a national franchised network.

Although we worked very closely with the client during the development and launch process, when asked at a later date what our main contribution had been the Managing Director replied “You gave us the confidence to do it ourselves”.

Small can become big
You can never refer to an international development project as standard procedure. Every client and project is different and each deserves and gets an individual approach to ensure they achieve their objectives. However, this is a nice example of a great client, who was fun to work with and whose journey towards international success was a relatively straight path.

The client was a family run bistro concept with three outlets in Malta who was referred to us by their bank. Whilst the client was essentially a small independent business, they were very open minded and innovative and they were keen to turn what they had into something really special on the international stage.

The project was text book for us; work with the client to develop a vision and goals for the business, develop the franchise strategy, define and document the franchise operating system, develop and document the international franchise offering, take the offering to market.

This attractive offering, properly developed for international markets had great appeal. Initial successes included signing a joint venture deal with one of the largest international hotel operators, signing a master license agreement for India and being chosen to represent their country at the World Expo in China.

The client put their complete trust in us which enabled us to manage the project and guide the client through the process one step at a time to a successful conclusion. Great client, great fun and we continue work with them on the road to achieving their dreams for the business.

It pays to get it right from the start
This client was a small, family run business that was a victim of its own success and made a classic franchising mistake. Fortunately we were able to put things right and guide them to great success.

Customers of the business can make personalised jewellery inspired by their children. It is a charming and highly popular product which instantly hit the mark with the public. It was inevitable that at some point someone from overseas would see the concept and ask if they could franchise the business in their country.

Many businesses get into international franchising via such ad hoc approaches and they often end in disaster because of insufficient preparation. As with any form of franchising, international franchising should be based on a sound financial and operating model that can be rolled out in multiple territories.

The owners were so excited that someone on the other side of the world wanted to bring the concept in to their country that they had a master license agreement hastily put together and dived headlong into international franchising. At the time the company contacted us, things were going wrong but they were getting more enquiries to franchise into other countries.

We worked with the client to develop a properly structured international offering, restructured the existing international operation and helped them roll out an international franchise programme based on the new model. The client has since achieved good international growth based on sound, sustainable franchising principles and even achieved recognition in the category “Best International Franchise”, coming second only to McDonalds.

The lesson was that the client would have achieved success and the associated financial rewards sooner and avoided the initial costly mistakes if they had invested the necessary time and money in getting their international franchising package right in the first place.

Working in your best interests
International franchising is very exciting and the idea of spreading your brand around the world is very attractive. Whilst we help our clients achieve this, we also have a great deal of experience in international expansion and bring an outside view and different perspective to the project.

This particular client in the domiciliary care market was seduced by the prospect of international growth. As requested, we worked with them to develop an international offering and operating structure. The client went on to recruit their first international franchisee and all went well.

However, during the process it became clear to us that they still had huge potential for growth within the UK. After bringing this to their attention and helping them review their overall business growth strategy, they decided to concentrate on domestic growth in the short term.

There was no pressing strategic reason for the company to achieve international growth and the “Low hanging fruit” was certainly the UK market which offered the most obvious route to quick, profitable growth. However, they were now in the nice position of knowing that when the next good enquiry from an international market came, they had the structure and documentation in place to proceed in the right way with a now tried and tested system.

Our long experience of working with businesses of all sizes means we have more to offer our clients than just producing documentation. We become part of the strategic planning process, offer new ideas and contribute in many ways to helping our clients achieve their overall goals.

Turning a sows ear into a silk purse
Our client bought the European master rights to a children’s activity franchise. Unfortunately it transpired that the operating system was not defined and documented to anywhere near the standard it should have been and the level of support from the franchisor was found wanting.

Despite this our client used their own knowledge and experience to successfully franchise the concept in the UK. In fact it was so successful that they soon started to consider franchising into other countries and it was at this point that they asked for our help. Although they had operated successfully in the UK, they were savvy enough to realise that to be able to promote a credible offering elsewhere in Europe the package had to be developed and presented to a much higher standard.

We guided the client through the process of refining the franchise model, detailing the operating system and producing the required documentation. Armed with this powerful package, the client was able to realign the existing UK franchisees and recruit new sub franchisees in Europe. The new offering proved to be very attractive to the market and the success of the overseas franchise operation lead our client to approach the franchisor and request the rights for the Middle East. Eventually they bought the whole business from the franchisor.

The lesson here is that if you do not have absolute confidence in your international franchise offering we can help you and it is never too late. Better to put it right now and reap the dividends than to keep rolling out an offering with inbuilt problems that will come back to haunt you.

The rifle shot approach to finding a master licensee
Our client is based in the USA and was looking to make their first move outside of the States. This project needed a particular approach; it was the clients’ first attempt at international expansion and so naturally they were looking for us to guide them through the maze of finding a master licensee with minimum risk and the best possible outcome to launch their international programme.

Also, because they operated in the senior care market, they were looking for a partner in the UK who were not only proven commercial operators but shared their value system. The clients viewed this as paramount believing that a caring culture for the business was essential and that it should be lead from the top.

Our task was to put five qualified candidates before the CEO when he came across to the UK. The brief meant that we had to be very focused in our marketing to find this combination of business acumen and shared values.

We developed and undertook a highly targeted marketing programme which proved very effective. A short list of five candidates emerged for the visit of the CEO and two were selected to visit the head office in the USA. The master licence was awarded to the candidate that met the profile perfectly and is now operating successfully.

A more flexible approach
A major German food producer and high street retailer was seeking to expand into the UK. Our brief was to find a master licensee to invest in and develop the UK market.

However, at the time an extensive marketing programme failed to produce a corporate investor of the type envisaged by the client as the ideal candidate.

At this point we suggested a different approach and asked the question; what was most important, the ability of the UK partner to invest in the project or finding the right person with the experience and skills to drive the business? After some thought, the client decided finding the right person was the most important thing.

We now had to take a different approach and we scoured our database and list of contacts for suitable individuals. One stand-out candidate emerged and the parties were introduced.

The client was delighted and had absolute faith in the candidate’s ability to develop their business successfully in the UK, albeit not operating under the business model they had originally anticipated.

Two for the price of one
A major Australian service industry franchisor asked us to find a UK master licensee.

They were very keen to spread the net wide and see as many good candidates as possible. We instigated a major marketing campaign which produced a good number of well qualified parties interested in taking the master licence.

The short list was whittled down to two candidates who were both superb, one being more of a hands on operator and the other an investor with the funds to develop a team.

Both candidates went to meet the franchisor in Australia who could see the attributes in each. The result was that the two candidates were introduced to each other and they formed a joint business with their combined strengths benefiting the operation. Needless to say the client was very happy!

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Case Studies

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