Distribution franchise opportunity


Distribution franchise opportunity

Derek Wilson has decided to franchise his door-to-door distribution business, Distribution Unlimited, throughout the UK.

If you like the idea of needing relatively little capital investment and working outdoors then this could be the opportunity for you.

FranchiseSales.com: So Derek, why franchise your business and why now?

Derek: I’ve been in business for 14 years and I am very much in my comfort zone. I started looking at the business and put out a number of marketing campaigns, including a Google advert campaign, which was very successful. Although it advertised our service as being in Edinburgh, we have been getting enquires from places like London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bournemouth and Harrogate almost on a weekly basis now.

There is a huge marketplace, so we started looking at how we could expand the business.

FS: So there’s demand across the country for this service, not just in Edinburgh. What else will attract people to your franchise?

Derek: We have very good systems – ultimately it’s simple and we have taken the pain of the learning curve and applied best practice for our franchisees. There’s no legislation required, no training courses or skills required.

Most people applying will have no previous experience of running a business and we intend to support our franchisees and guide them in the right direction

FS: So you don’t expect any prior experience of running a business?

Derek: No. My belief is that most people applying will have no previous experience of running a business and we intend to support our franchisees and guide them in the right direction. Obviously if you buy a carpet-fitting franchise, then you need to be a carpet-fitter to do that. With this, there’s no specific skill required.

FS: So it’s low on skills, but what attributes does a franchisee need?

Derek: If you came to me and said “I need to hit the 50,000 biggest or most expensive houses in Edinburgh” I could do that, because we have the local knowledge and tools. But I couldn’t do that in London, Birmingham, or even in Glasgow – so I need people with local knowledge. We have a demographic mapping system, but area knowledge is key.

Franchisees must also be organised, strong, determined, and have some business acumen.

They don’t have to be the best salesperson in the world because we will support them in obtaining their initial leads and their start-up efforts until their confidence is flowing. But I do want someone that wants to better themselves and has drive and a willingness to succeed.

FS: Is your business model robust enough for such a person to succeed?

Derek: I believe we’re the best out there. It’s not a glamorous industry but we’re proud of what we do and we charge the right price, giving value for money.

We will train franchisees how to foster good communications with clients. We like to keep clients updated by phone and follow-up with maps to show which areas we have covered.

Franchisees get access to the expertise we have built up and the system we have developed over the last 14 years. A key part of the package is our street database, which let’s our franchisees know exactly how many houses and businesses there are in every street in their territory. It works in conjunction with mapping software and our customer management system.

They basically get a ready-made, turnkey business. It is ultimately their own business, but we are there to support them at every stage - what to do, how to do it and when to do it. They’re buying into our experience.

 

We’ve trademarked the name and logo as well, so they’re buying the trading name and a growing brand.

FS: What obligations does the franchisee have to observe so the brand is protected?

Derek: They have to be the best, do the job properly and abide by our delivery ethics.

For example, we don’t leave anything at the bottom of a set of stairs in a block of flats. We go into almost every apartment block in Edinburgh and always make sure we go to every single letterbox within that block.

Three things are important to a successful leaflet distribution.

One, people have to want your product or service. Two, the distribution has to target the right people – so if you’re selling garden products there is no point delivering them to blocks of flats. Thirdly, timing has to be correct.

Our mission statement is to match your product or service with the correct marketplace – and that’s how we started 14 years ago.

FS: Do you expect your franchisees to put in a minimum number of hours a week or to have a certain number of clients?

Derek: I do. It’s based on a five-day week, which was how I started; I had a very young family when I started this business.

They may have to put in a few extra hours and work weekends sometimes, but it should usually be a 37-40 hour week. So there is scope for them to make more money if they choose to work six days a week.

FS: What kind of clients do you have?

Derek: There are a couple of public utility companies, and we work heavily with the city council as well. We do quite a lot of work for sports and health clubs, hairdressers and various other service industries.

Fourteen years ago the work was very much retail orientated, but nowadays it is much more orientated towards, such as distributing letters from public bodies, rather than retail advertising.

FS: What’s the strangest thing you have been asked to deliver?

Derek: We were asked to deliver sausages at one point, which we refused to do in case people had dogs or were away for six months on holiday!

We have also been asked to deliver Kitchen Caddies, which were for residents to dispose their biodegradable kitchen waste in.

Every day is different – and that’s what I enjoy.

FS: How many people do you have delivering?

Derek: We always have minimum of five full-time staff on the road. In addition there are two administration staff, one part-time and one full-time, and myself.

 

I assume in the early days you were out and about quite a lot…

Derek: Yes, although I still go out delivering. I never ask anyone to do anything that I am not prepared to do myself.

FS: Getting outside is not a bad thing, though, by any means…

Derek: It’s the best job in the world: you’re getting paid to keep fit. That’s one of our recruitment campaigns – why pay £50 a month to join a gym when we’ll pay you to keep fit? It works.

FS: What stage are you at now in terms of franchising the business?

Derek: We have organised a training course. There are three franchisees ready to join us – one in the Midlands and two in Scotland – and we are interviewing other applicants.

FS If they have a problem who do they speak to?

Derek: There will be head office support and an online intranet, which we will build over time with our franchisees. We only want three to start with:* we want them to be our best, their success is our success – we want to give them our full support.

The bottom line is that our ongoing income relies on the monthly 10% management charge [of turnover]. So there is no point me just taking the money and not training them properly! We only make money if our franchisees are, and we are in for the long haul.

 

About The Author

Adam Bannister Writer
Adam Bannister writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com as well as other industry publications.