"Our franchise model is essentially recession proof"

Over the last six months, BCR Associates has completed its foundational franchise period with the help of its pilot franchise owners. During this time, the model was vigorously tested and the support available to its franchise network was improved. FDS Southern consultants Gordon Patterson and Gary Rigby spoke to its founders Chris Battin and Richard Dormer

Founded in 2005, BCR Associates helps companies to plug their cost wastage on essential spend. Initially the company focused on finding savings for business energy contracts, and the model has proved so successful that their portfolio has expanded to include advice, procurement and account management services across 11 key expense areas: electricity; gas; telecoms; water; business rates; forensic auditing for bank charges; insurance; vehicles; finance; staff and green services.

Question: What are the origins of the BCR Associates concept?
Our business was built on providing exceptional service to our clients and we became aware that to provide a full service to clients across the UK, we would need a team of motivated professionals. Our initial expertise was in energy, though after discussions with clients introduced to us by accountants and banks, it became clear that they were looking to make considerable savings across other areas of essential spend. From this our portfolio of core services developed.

Q: When and why did you decide that franchising was the preferred route to developing the business?
A: The nature of our work lends itself to having close relationships with our clients who come back to us year after year for help. The concept of franchising appealed because it naturally attracts motivated professionals who know their skills, have researched the opportunities, and become dedicated to fulfilling their dreams.

Q: What do you understand to be the distinctive features of the BCR Associates franchise offering?
We looked at all the other models in the market and felt they were all becoming dated and lacked the focus on the franchise owner as a partner in the business. The model is essentially recession proof and allows each franchise owner to prosper when times are good or bad for the rest of industry. The difference to the client is that we do not charge the client through a "savings-share" and we maintain a long-term relationship and have an initial 120-day "Fast Start" package for franchise owners to become established and achieve profit. They never have to negotiate or chase clients for fees and, unlike some other models; they have the potential to generate a long-term residual income stream stretching years ahead.

Q: How are your first Foundational Franchise Owners performing?
We are very pleased with our first two foundational franchise owners, it has been an extremely positive learning curve for us all and they have both developed £35,000 profit over the last six months.

Q: What kind of support do you provide to the franchise owners?
From the moment we speak to a new potential partner there is ongoing practical support, a full back office team, including a marketing manager, full IT support and financial administration collecting the income. More importantly we understand that the transition into becoming a franchise owner can be testing for someone who has never been in control of their own destiny before; we provide this initial support and encouragement.

Q: Do the franchise owners need any particular skills?
Ambitious, motivated and organised individuals with an attention to detail will thrive. We would particularly look to attract people who are comfortable talking to managing director level executives as well as business owners. A person who has been selling services or products in the B2B market would find this opportunity attractive and rewarding.

Q: What sort of infrastructure does BCR Associates have for the future growth and development of the business?
Our business has been designed around the needs of the franchise owners. Each one has access to all relevant information updated by staff in our head office through access to our servers and a bespoke customer relationship management system to help them run their business. In addition to IT support, our head office staff includes a marketing manager to assist with campaigns, a telecoms team to assist in analysis and our administrative team ensures every penny earned is accounted for and invoiced automatically. We have also engaged professional trainers and coaches to help franchise owners through the initial 120 day "Fast Start" plan.

Q: I understand there is a strong requirement for the services BCR Associates offer; can you explain this in more detail?
Over the last year, our internal specialists saved in excess of £2,000,000 for our clients. Every business premises has at least one electric light, a telephone and mandatory insurance - that is a business in need of three of our core services already. Over the last 12 months we have delivered savings to companies in the UK, which have allowed them to stay in business, stop planned redundancies and put them back into profit.

Q: What is your immediate goal plan in the development of your business over 2010?
We aim to grow steadily so we can focus 100 per cent on our franchise partners needs. In 2010, we will be working with 10 franchise partners and growing our management team in depth to support this growth.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the marketplace in the long term - say five years?
The scale of the opportunity is truly vast - every business that has premises is a potential customer. Our aim is to become one of the most considered cost reduction partners for businesses in the UK.