Pet food franchise opportunity


Pet food franchise opportunity

A nation of animal lovers, the UK is a fertile environment for businesses selling pet products.

I spoke to Richard Dancy, Sales and Marketing Director at Oscar Pet Foods, about the loyalty of the franchise’s customer base, how they profile applicants, and how desire counts for more than business experience.

Adam Bannister: What distinguishes your home-based business ?

Richard Dancy: I would say that the level of support is very high. You get expertise – a lot of help in running your business – and a very good product. We have been franchising since 1993, so for about 13 to 14 years. We’re certainly not here today, gone tomorrow.

I’d say in our field, there’s not much that we haven’t discovered about the best way to run an Oscar business.

AB: What does your 11-day training course consist of?

RD: Six days of in-house, classroom-style interactive training and five days of customer building in the franchisee's area.

AB: The initial inventory includes an Oscar marquee. What's that used for?

RD: One of the ways we market ourselves is by attending various local events. The customer gets an Oscar marquee to put up anywhere where there might be pet owners: local village fetes, dog shows, craft fairs, schools – we are even going to a caravan show.

AB: What marketing does the franchisor undertake to publicise the brand?

I’d say in our field, there’s not much that we haven’t discovered about the best way to run an Oscar business

RD: We spend a lot of our marketing budget on PR as we find that to be efficient; we had over 300 articles written about us over the course of last year alone. Our service, product and general local pet stories lend themselves very well to local papers.

We attend national events such as Crufts and sponsor Europe's biggest outdoor show the CLA Game Fair. We are also registered with many directories and known to local pet charities and businesses. Franchisees enjoy free corporate material and expert support. All franchisees have access to their own web page. We have a web builder system for them to do this on, so no experience of building websites is required.

AB: How much can a franchisee expect to make working a normal 35-hour week?

RD: If you are only putting in 35 hours a week then you are not doing enough! I would personally recommend a minimum of 40 hours a week.

There are people making £800 a week, but typical weekly earnings, I would say, range from £300 to £800 a week – and the franchisee gets to keep it all. There are no royalties! There is simply a support fee – a flat £115 per month that every franchisee pays.

 

AB: And what support does the franchisee get for this money?

RD: Franchisees get free leaflets, free use of all our display equipment, sales and marketing kit, an accessories catalogue and all professionally designed marketing materials.

The Support Fund is an openly discussed resource that is used to enable franchisees to do regional and local shows. These can be quite expensive and so we encourage them by enabling franchisees to claim up to £1,100 back per year in their region.

AB: Do you go that extra mile for franchisees that might be struggling in their role?

RD: Definitely. We have a National Franchise Coordinator whose entire role is to support franchisees. If someone is having difficulties he will go out and see them, and help them resolve their problems. There’s no charge for that either!

AB: That’s reassuring to those with little experience in business. Speaking of which, is experience a pre-requisite for your franchisees?

RD: No, because the training is comprehensive. We look at what they have and how it can be adapted to them in their new business.

Sales, stock management and good computer experience is useful, though.

AB: What else do you look for in a franchisee?

RD: We profile each potential franchisee and discuss whether they are suitable. The most important thing is that they have the desire.

We look at whether they are suited to working from home. They need an office area away from the rest of the house – somewhere without kids running around.

We look at their stockholding capability, and whether they have a domestic garage. There has to be adequate access for our lorries to deliver the goods.

And, of course, they have to like pets!

AB: What obligations does the franchisee have to observe?

RD: The most important thing is that they follow the system; if they do that, they will go far.

They also have to complete a business plan once a year. They are only allowed to trade within their designated exclusive territory. And of course they must uphold the brand and only sell Oscar products.

AB: What if they get customer feedback requesting the addition of a particular product to the range? Are you receptive to suggestions from franchisees?

RD: We do get feedback. The network will recommend ideas from the customers to add to the catalogue. To discuss these ideas we have a Franchise Advisory Council, which meets every quarter.

AB: One of the criticisms of franchising can be a lack of creative input but that at least means franchisees feel they influence things when the market demands it…

RD: Yes. For example, we do a diet dog treat, which we added because of a suggestion from a franchisee.

AB: Every franchisor has stories of difficulties with franchisees. Why do things go wrong sometimes?

RD: Through not following the system. Because of what we do, the appeal is widespread so you can’t go wrong. By its nature it is obviously a repeat business. So many people have pets. People are extremely loyal because of the level of service – so there are no customer base issues.

Problems should only arise where someone doesn’t work at the business or potentially wastes efforts spending too much time on things that are not part of the system.

AB: If a potential franchisee wants to contact existing franchisees to get an idea of how they have got on, the kind of pitfalls they have encountered, and so on, can you put them in touch?

RD: We wouldn’t sell a franchise without them having met existing franchisees. We insist that they go out with a franchisee for a day, on the job.

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.