Apollo Blinds has the 'ooh' factor

It's official: Apollo Blinds has the 'ooh' factor. And its newest franchisees noticed the 'ooh' factor within days of opening their doors. Paul Kirby reports

'I didn't know how to explain it until Carol Price and Justine Ellis, franchisees from Swansea, actually coined the phase,' says General Manager Patrick Harrison. 'But they have hit the nail on the head. 'Ooh' is the expression that many of our customers unwittingly exclaim when they walk into a showroom and are greeted by the sheer breadth of choice that is available to them at Apollo Blinds.

'More specifically, it is the delight with which our customers go 'ooh I never knew there was so much choice,' or 'ooh I didn't realise you could get blinds that looked like that,' when they look around a showroom and see all the ranges and display models that they can look at, touch, feel and play with.

'Carol and Justine (pictured above) are seeing the 'ooh' factor in action at their new franchise and they recognise that it is helping them to generate better business.

'A lot of careful planning goes into designing the layout of our retail showrooms because there are so many different blinds to showcase and we think we have achieved a great balance. But the 'ooh' factor perfectly sums up that we have it right because it generates a positive reaction from customers when they visit our showrooms.'

While the 'ooh' factor highlights that Apollo Blinds created a showroom format which actively helps its franchisees to generate sales, it is that they have a store in the first place which is the reason behind the success of the franchise network.

The showroom concept is not one adopted by most of the company's competitors who instead favour the 'man in a van' approach, but Patrick believes this gives Apollo Blinds and its franchisees a genuine commercial advantage. He has made no secret of his desire to open more franchise showrooms and consolidate the company's position as Britain's biggest blinds store chain.

'Whichever way you look at it, there is no substitute for having a retail store - especially when you operate in a market sector where customers generally like to make informed decisions because the products they are purchasing will have a significant impact on the mood, tone and atmosphere of the homes they have to live in,' says Patrick.

'Having a showroom enables us to display a wide range of different products in such a way that it allows our customers to see the products at first hand and visualise how they will look in their own homes. 'They can spend time in our stores discussing the different options with our franchisees who are all excellent at offering advice and consultancy to help customers find just the right blinds for all of the windows in their home.' But Patrick believes that the strategy for having showrooms creates something that resonates deeper in the psyche of customers and is something which is echoed by the Swansea franchisees.

Like many others in a similar position Carol and Justine wanted to invest in a business and had plenty of options open to them, but they chose a franchise with Apollo Blinds because the showroom format instantly instils confidence in consumers.

'Our showroom sends out a clear message that we are open for business and that we want customers to come in and have a look at what we can offer them as an Apollo Blinds store,' says Justine.

'It is very visible to customers passing either by foot or travelling on the road so we effectively have a huge billboard which advertises where we are and what we offer.

'And it's amazing how much footfall we are getting as a result, with people calling in to have a look, and that's why we feel we can do better business with our Apollo Blinds showroom as consumers are confident to step over the threshold. And once they are through the door, we can build on the confidence by offering advice and consultancy which we hope is trusted by the customers and this makes the sales process so much easier.'

Carol and Justine have got off to a flying start with their new business and Apollo Blinds has full confidence for their future success. The duo understand that they will generate sales because customers are reassured that they can call in at any time for sales information and advice as well as after-sales service. 'The success of our showroom strategy is paying dividends for us and our franchisees,' adds Patrick. 'Apollo Blinds is in a different part of the market and as such we are reaping the rewards because nobody is doing it the way we are. Thanks to Carol and Justine, we now have a name for all that sets Apollo Blinds apart, and it's all because we have plenty of 'ooh'.'