Question and Answer with Ableworld
What is the range of product/services you offer?
Ableworld offers offer everything for the elderly and disabled from walking sticks to scooters; from wheelchairs to stairlifts. We also stock a large range of day-to-day equipment to make life easier and more comfortable for our customers.
What is the Ableworld business proposition?
The Ableworld business proposition capitalises on the growing mobility industry through offering products and services in the retail market.
The population bulge created by the post-war baby-boom has reached a point where greater numbers of the population are increasingly in need of mobility and homecare products to help them enjoy active and independent lives. Add to this the fact that people are living much longer than ever before and you have a growing market for the products and services that Ableworld offers its customers.
These unstoppable market forces are the driving force behind our business. Our franchise proposition capitalises on these forces through our retail outlets and our stairlift business both of which are profitable stand-alone operations but when combined into one franchise they give enhanced turnover and profit potential.
When was the company founded?
The company was founded, by our current Managing Director, Mike Williams, in 2000 and our first store, Nantwich in Cheshire, opened in 2001. Since then we have expanded steadily via organic growth and acquisition. We will continue to grow via these methods as and when appropriate but our main thrust now will be through inviting like-minded franchise partners to join us on what will be an exciting journey.
When did you first start franchising?
Our first franchise owner actually came to us and asked us if we would consider granting him a franchise in 2008. Andy Rees had diligently researched the mobility market and could see the enormous potential that exists. One option was to ‘go it alone’ but Andy felt that a more sure fire route to success was to join an already successful firm. After considering several other options he and his business partner, Barry O’Donnell, decided on Ableworld. We are very pleased to say that Andy and Barry’s decision has been fully vindicated and they are now looking to add to their existing franchise.
What is the minimum investment requirement?
Some potential franchise owners can be put off investing in traditional retail franchises because of the relatively high levels of minimum investment –£100K - £250K in some cases.
In contrast, a full Ableworld franchise can be started with as little as £65,000 for a medium-sized retail outlet and stairlift franchise. We are also willing, in special cases, to look at awarding separate franchises for either a retail outlet franchise or a stairlift franchise. In those cases the initial investment could be as low as £30,000.
We should also point out that our franchise proposition has been approved by all the main high street banks who specialise in franchise lending and finance (subject to status) can be arranged for up to 60 per cent of the total investment which means that franchise owners can have a full Ableworld franchise with as little as £25,000 funds of their own.
What are the skills/experience/qualifications are you looking for in franchise owners?
Franchise owners will come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience. We have seen people succeed who have had backgrounds in retail, healthcare, the armed services, general management, and engineering to name but a few. As for qualifications, while we have people in our organisation who have very strong academic qualifications we also have equally successful people whose skills and qualifications are more experienced based.
Our ideal franchise owners are people who have the desire, energy and determination to build their own ethically-based business in the mobility sector. They will have an enthusiastic customer service mentality and want to make a difference to people’s lives through providing quality products and services that people can afford.
What training/support do you offer franchise owners?
In our view there are two critical personal factors necessary for a franchise owner to succeed. Firstly they must have the personal qualities discussed previously. As franchisors we feel we have a duty and a responsibility to identify those personal qualities during the recruitment and selection process.
Once we have identified and jointly agreed with our franchise partners that they are right for us and we are right for them the other critical factor is the training and support that we, as franchisors, provide.
So for us, first class training and support is not merely an add-on nor is it something that can be carried out lightly or in haste.
We have a minimum 25 day programme including a week’s residential at our head office. In addition there is five to 10 days product training from our principal suppliers. We will also put one of our experienced managers with new franchise partners for their first full week of business.
Our back-up written material is extensive and apart from our 400+ page easy-to-read operations manual we have a fully functioning head office only a phone call away.
On going training and support will be generously offered by members of our training team, including our in-house business coach, whenever it is required.
What will the franchise owner’s job entail?
A full Ableworld franchise consists of a retail outlet and a stairlift business. For the retail side you can think of the job as similar to a specialist retail manager. Building trusted relationships and giving high levels of customer service before, during and after the sale are paramount.
On the stairlift side of the business franchise owners will need to be able to quote, install and repair the equipment. A background in light engineering is an advantage although full training will be given. Another option includes hiring an engineer if the franchise partner him/herself prefers to concentrate their efforts on the sales and management side.
As our first franchise proved, a partnership of two people, pooling their skills and experience can work very well.
What is the market potential for this business?
According to the Financial Times £80 billion a year is currently spent in the UK on meeting Mobility needs; and that is set to grow.
The Mobility and Homecare sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in today’s retail space. UK demographic forces are very positive for our sector. The population of the UK is set to rise by over four million in the next ten years and by nearly ten million in the next 20 years. People are living longer and the ‘Baby Boomers’ born in the 1950s and early 1960s are now reaching their ‘third age’. In addition to these powerful demographic factors the government’s stated aim is to help people live independent lives in their own homes.
All of this means that over the next 10 years (and beyond) we will have more customers requiring more of our products for longer.
The final question is why Ableworld?
Apart from our well-founded and established operation (we have been going for over 10 years) we offer Retail Mobility and Homecare franchise and a thriving Stairlifts business in one package. We are also profitable – significantly above the recent industry average. We pride ourselves on running an ethical business and are proud of our reputation and brand. All our employees and our franchise partners adhere to a strict Code of Conduct.
At Ableworld we have a desire to make people’s lives better and we expect that same philosophy to be present in our franchise partners. Of course we make a profit and so will our franchise partners but we do not do so at the expense of compromising our basic principle of providing our customers with the right products at affordable prices.
Finally, Ableworld is the only Mobility and Homecare Retailer recognised by the British Franchise Association, an organisation dedicated to accrediting franchisors who meet their exacting standards.
So, if you want to join a growing organisation and would like to build a successful business with Ableworld then please contact us by filling out the form below