Malcolm Porter talks to Danny Hanlon

Malcolm Porter, of FDS South East, talks to Danny Hanlon, Chief Operating Officer at Granite Transformations.

Malcolm Porter: How would you describe Granite Transformations franchise opportunity?

Danny Hanlon (pictured): We describe it as a unique opportunity for extraordinary people, reflecting the distinctive nature of our core product and the calibre of franchise owner we look to attract. It’s a chance to establish your own business within an exclusive sales territory and grow it from the ground up, building a local reputation and creating your own customer base. However, the in-depth support we provide means we are with franchise owners every step of the way, helping you to succeed.

Malcolm Porter: How long has Granite Transformations been trading?

Danny Hanlon: We have been trading in the UK since 2003, although the global Granite Transformations franchise was first established in 1996 and now has 160 franchised showrooms across four continents.

Malcolm Porter: Can you describe your target market and the potential for your business across the UK.

Danny Hanlon: The target market is ABC1 homeowners, aged 40 plus, with women often the main decision makers. With our ‘green’ ethos and a high proportion of recycled products, we also appeal to a younger, eco-friendly demographic; while at the other end of the scale, our product concept and installation method appeal strongly to retired people.

The kitchen replacement sector is worth around £1.5 billion in this country and we foresee further strong growth as our worktop and cabinet refacing concept becomes more attractive, for cost and ecological reasons.

Malcolm Porter: What differentiates Granite Transformations from its competitors?

Danny Hanlon: Our worktop material is unlike any other on the market – it fits over existing kitchen work surfaces or bathroom tiles, eliminating the mess and disruption of ripping out and demolition. Every installation is custom made, fabricated off-site and professionally fitted, which further minimises disruption and allows a much faster turnaround. We provide a top quality finish that won’t fade, stain, discolour, scratch or burn and is guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Malcolm Porter: What support do you provide?

Danny Hanlon: We work very hard on supporting our franchise owners and have won a major industry award for best marketing support. All new franchise owners attend an intensive three-week training programme, which fast-tracks them through all the technical sales, financial and business operating procedures, and receive ongoing support, which include senior technical, sales and operations specialists. There’s a full programme of national press and TV advertising and consumer PR too, together with tailored local publicity and extensive point of sale material.

Malcolm Porter: What are the most important characteristics you look for in potential franchise owners?

Danny Hanlon: Overall, we’re looking for hardworking people with enthusiasm, self-motivation, integrity and good people skills. You don’t necessarily need previous practical or market experience, although a sales and marketing background might be an advantage, as would knowledge of the kitchens and bathrooms sector. This is not a one-man business, as you’ll need other people to look after the books and manage the installation team if those are not your particular strengths, so often a husband and wife partnership fits the bill.

Malcolm Porter: What are Granite Transformations’ goals for the next year?

Danny Hanlon: We are looking to grow the UK showroom network, with more franchise owners in strategic regions, to fulfil our goal of becoming the country’s leading kitchen improvement brand. Thanks to an investment funding scheme, a number of our existing franchise owners are adding an extra showroom and postcode territory to their operations, creating organic growth.

Bearing in mind that funds are relatively tight and people are naturally risk averse, we are also working on reducing the barriers to entry for new franchise owners, by introducing a concession showroom franchise, based in a garden centre or other host location, with the total initial investment, including capital spend, stripped down to just £31,000.