Why should you choose an Apollo Blinds franchise?
The most critical question any potential franchisee should be asking a franchisor is why they should choose to invest in their brand. Apollo Blinds General Manager Patrick Harrison reveals why this is his favourite question and he always looks forward to the moment it is put to him
I love it when someone asks me why they should choose to buy a franchise with Apollo Blinds. But not for the reason you think.
Yes of course it's an obvious cue for us to dive into a sales patter about how great we are and how the potential franchisee will build a prosperous business as part of our network.
And of course we can - because Apollo Blinds is part of Hunter Douglas, which is the world's largest manufacturer of window blinds and therefore no other blinds company can hold a candle to us in terms of the range of products available to us and the extremely low wholesale prices we have access to.
It's hard not to talk about how our new branding has repositioned us in the marketplace and how our network of franchisees is seeing an increase in sales as a result. And I'm often biting my lip not to say how our support infrastructure is geared up to provide franchisees with every opportunity to generate more sales.
This is because we actually take a different tack and suggest that the potential franchisee speak to everyone but us. We point them in the direction of our existing franchisees (incidentally, the fact that we have franchisees who have been with us more than 20 years speaks volumes about the company and the way we conduct business), our trade body - the British Blinds & Shutters Association - or the bfa (British Franchise Association).
And if that's not enough, we could suggest they look a little more laterally at our press coverage. Or even more laterally at industry research such as the recent Mintel report which highlights just how fast our industry is growing with a 62 per cent sales increase over the last five years.
We do this because we are very confident that all of these different sources will provide excellent third-party endorsements. They are all very powerful tools when it comes to influencing what potential franchisees think of us.
So the question actually moves away from 'why should I choose Apollo Blinds?' to a position where the potential franchisee asks: 'What happens next when I say I want to become part of your network?'
Apollo Blinds Franchising gives Shaun the best of both worlds
Shaun Mescall has been a franchisee with Apollo Blinds for eight years and believes it offers him something unique which helps him stay well ahead of his local competitors. 'We are a local business, which provides a local service,' he says. 'But we are also part of a national company which has a strong brand and an excellent reputation for the quality and range of window blind products. This gives us the best of both worlds when it comes to selling in Peterborough.
'We promote the local service aspect of what we do to reassure customers that we are always on hand should they require us. But there's also the fact that we are part of Britain's biggest blinds store chain and customers know they are buying from a reputable company which is an industry leader. This is a very powerful message to consumers because they know they are buying into a brand and all the trappings that go with it.'
Shaun says that the while using the local company/national brand approach is paying dividends in terms of sales, being part of a national network also means he can draw on as little or as much support as necessary. 'The Apollo Blinds support infrastructure means my regional manager is always available to offer advice and support whenever I need it,' he says. 'This is so useful, particularly in helping me grow the business and looking at ways to keep increasing trade. But the management team, along with fellow franchisees, are also on hand to help find solutions to unique customer requirements.'
He cites the example of a commercial customer who needed a higher specification of blackout blinds than were available in Apollo Blinds' existing domestic range. Shaun spoke to other people in the Apollo Blinds network and was able to source a solution which met the company's exact requirements.
'That's the beauty of being a franchisee with Apollo Blinds,' he adds. 'I didn't know what the solution was but other people were able to point me in the right direction so that I fulfilled the customer's order. I'll wager that none of my local competitors could have sourced that kind of high specification blackout blind, but then they're not part of such a strong national network like Apollo Blinds.
'I joined Apollo Blinds eight years ago because I wanted to build a strong and successful business in Peterborough and I'm doing just that by being part of a national company in my local area.'