British Franchise Association: Gold Medal franchising - Franchisor of the Year announced

Such is the quality of franchising in the UK, this year's British Franchise Association Franchisor of the Year Awards named three winners, albeit in gold, silver and bronze categories. Derin Ibrahim reports on the brands that came out on top

For most franchises customer satisfaction is a vital aspect of a successful business. Acknowledging this the British Franchise Association (bfa) chose 'Customer Focus' as the theme for its Franchisor of the Year Awards 2007.

Hosted at The Savoy, London, the awards luncheon rewarded top performing franchisees across the country. Due to the finalists being of such high quality, gold, silver and bronze Franchisor of the Year Awards were given for the first time. Additionally awards were accepted for Express Newspapers Brand Builder of the Year and the HSBC Enterprise Award.

'The bfa Franchisor of the Year Award recognises and promotes outstanding professionalism within this increasingly important market sector and seeks to reward those who are constantly striving for excellence, both for themselves and for the success of their networks,' said Brian Smart, bfa Director General.

Gold Award: Snap-on Tools
Snap-on Tools, a franchise that provides mechanics with equipment, beat eight other franchisors to receive the Franchisor of the Year Gold Award. 'This award is a tribute to our franchisee network and the dedicated efforts of all our sales management and back-office employees who have helped to make Snap-on Tools such a success,' said Terry Barcham, Snap-on Tools Managing Director.

The company has been focusing on providing a better service for its customers and has invested in a new training programme, TechEd, for customers and franchisees. Terry explains: 'The rapidly increasing complexity of cars is taxing the ability of technicians to keep up with the manufacturers' innovation and development. We responded to our customers' needs for more knowledge particularly in the area of vehicle electronics.'

Brian Smart, added: 'The three top candidates presented extremely powerful cases, but we felt that Snap-on Tools met the criteria of the judging panel just a little more effectively than the others. We were particularly impressed with their ability to identify and respond to the need to educate both customers and franchisees in the complexities of their product.'

Silver Award: Domino's Pizza
The Silver Award for Franchisor of the Year was won by Domino's Pizza. The pizza takeaway franchise gained the award for its initiatives in helping its franchisees meet demand for faster deliveries and healthier products.
'We felt that Domino's Pizza met the criteria of the judging panel very effectively,' recalled Brian Smart. 'We were particularly impressed with their ability to identify customers' demand for faster delivery times and to respond with such innovative and effective strategies to meet that demand. This company deserves recognition for its outstanding achievements and demonstrates how the franchising model can be used effectively to overcome the challenges of a very competitive market.'

Bronze Award: Molly Maid
Domestic cleaning franchise Molly Maid received the Franchisor of the Year Bronze Award. The judges were impressed with the company's focus on customer care, its commitment to attracting and retaining customers and creating links between franchise owners and their customers.

'Molly Maid has flourished by identifying their target markets extremely effectively, pacing their expansion carefully and adjusting the key components of their service to meet customer demands,' commented Cathryn Hayes, Head of Franchising for HSBC.

Express Newspapers Brand Builder: Thresher Group
Wine retailer Thresher won the Express Newspapers Brand Builder Award for its success since launching its franchise last year. Thresher Group implemented a plan for 600 of its 2,000 outlets to become franchises over the next three to four years. The company launched a new brand, Thresher Group Franchise (TGF), and began an advertising campaign that would convey the concept of TGF accurately and effectively.

'There were a number of excellent entries in this year's Brand Builder category but the judges were bowled over by Threshers' bold vision as well as the strategic planning that went into the implementation of their move into franchising,' explained Yvette Taylor, Express Newspapers Business Advertising Manager. 'It takes courage as well as skill to pioneer new ground and Threshers have set an example that others are sure to follow.'

HSBC Enterprise Award: Clive's Easylearn Rock & Pop Schools
Clive's Easylearn Rock & Pop Schools, which teaches 7-16 year olds music in a structured programme, gained the HSBC Enterprise Award. Clive Brooks developed the 'Easylearn' method in 1981 and set about writing hundreds of structured lessons for guitar, bass, drums and keyboard. After establishing his business Brooks began franchising, with the first franchise launched in 2002. The concept has established over 60 branches across the UK and Ireland, and 10 more outlets are due to start up this year.

'This is one of the most original ideas we have seen in the awards this year and is an excellent example of the flexibility of franchising,' commented Cathryn Hayes. 'Clive's success shows how a small business with big ideas can grow and flourish by applying the rules of franchising effectively and imaginatively.'