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.
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”.