Apollo Blinds: Birmingham couple trailblaze new look
The first franchisees in the UK to showcase the new Apollo Blinds image, Pam and Clive Barnett talk about why they made the switch from their previous successful independent window blinds business
The most significant thing we have noticed in the few months since we became Apollo blinds franchisees is the increased profit margins,' says Birmingham franchisee Clive Barnett.
'We can now sell window blinds cheaper than we could before and are making more profit on each one sold.
'Driving down costs and improving profits is something that every business strives to improve and we have done it virtually overnight because we are now part of a franchise which operates arguably the most competitive price structure in the industry. It wasn't the main reason we joined the Apollo Blinds network, but the fact we can see a financial return so quickly only serves to confirm that we did exactly the right thing.'
While the financial benefits are obvious for Clive and his wife and business partner Pam, the other major change they have noticed is the quality of the window blinds they have available to them. Because Apollo Blinds is part of Hunter Douglas - the world's largest manufacturer of window blinds - the Barnetts have access to the widest choice available in the UK.
'We have been really impressed with the quality and range of window blinds that we can now sell as an Apollo Blinds franchisee,' says Pam. 'We find the quality of Apollo Blinds is often equally as good, and in some cases better, than a brand such as Luxaflex, which is considered the Rolls Royce of quality for our industry. In the short space of time that we have had the new product ranges in, we have noticed that our customers have remarked on the quality of our Roller and Venetian blinds in particular. This is important if we are going to succeed at creating a new business that is even more successful than what we had before.'
THE WAY FORWARD
The move is obviously paying off for the Barnetts, who spent the previous six years at the helm of Polly Blinds. They took over the business, which was well-known in Birmingham, after Pam had worked there for 18 years. However, they wanted more for their business and saw joining Apollo Blinds as the way forward. They joined at just the right time because theirs is the first franchise showroom in the UK to be branded with the new look of Apollo Blinds.
'Before we took the franchise we spent time with the General Manager Patrick Harrison, and he outlined what he wanted the company to achieve over the next five years,' recalls Clive. 'We instantly knew that we wanted to be a part of that, and when he showed us the new branding for the company we couldn't sign on the dotted line fast enough.
The new look of Apollo Blinds is incredible. It's stylish, modern and minimalist. It's very simple but says so much about the quality of the brand and the products.
'This is the exciting part for us because the blinds cost less than people think and there are great margins in it for us to generate a healthy profit on the sale of each blind. We operate on the boundaries of a number of affluent areas and because we have been in the area so long we know this is just what our customers want. But the beauty of the range of window blinds is such that there are blinds to suit every budget so we won't fall into the trap of being seen as too exclusive.'
Patrick is delighted at just how well the Barnetts are settling into their new franchise, especially as some of the procedures for managing the day to day activities are different to what they may have been used to.
'Clive and Pam ran a very successful business for a long time and I'm sure they would have continued to earn a very good living from it,' he reflects.
'They have taken to our systems like a duck to water, but we would expect nothing less because our operations manual covers all parts of running the business and is a proven way to manage a franchise efficiently and effectively.
'It was a bold move for them but they wanted to take their business forward and I'm glad all the early results are demonstrating the benefits of being a part of Britain's biggest blinds store chain. The Barnetts are trailblazing the new look of Apollo Blinds and if the success of the first showroom is anything to go by, then Apollo Blinds is going to go from strength to strength.
'Whether it's established independent window blinds companies that want to take their business to a new level, or people who are coming to it completely fresh, Apollo Blinds is the right choice to build a successful franchise business.'