Q&A with Granite Transformations

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

Question: How would you describe the Granite Transformations franchise opportunity?
Answer: 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 that we are with franchise owners every step of the way, helping you to succeed.

Question: How long has Granite Transformations been trading?
Answer: We have been trading in the UK since 2003, although the Granite Transformations franchise was established in 1996 and now has 160 franchised showrooms across four continents.

Question: Has the current economic uncertainty affected your business?
Answer: During the recession, our combined network turnover actually increased by 38 per cent over the last 12 months, as homeowners opted to stay put and invest in home improvement. All of our franchise owners reported an upturn in sales against a downward trend in the kitchen franchise market, reflecting the unique nature of our retail offering.

Question: What differentiates Granite Transformations from its competition?
Answer: Our worktop material is unlike any other on the market, since 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.

Question: What support do you provide?
Answer: 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 subsequently receive ongoing support from our Franchise Advisory Support Team. 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.

Question: What are the most important characteristics you look for in potential franchise owners?
Answer: 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. 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.

Question: What are Granite Transformations' goals for the next 12 months?
Answer: We have just introduced replacement kitchen doors to the franchise mix, so we are bedding that new revenue stream into the showroom network, with specialist training, practical help on first installations and a wealth of extra promotional material. In the USA and Australia, where replacement doors are already in the product mix, showroom revenues have increased by as much as 40 per cent, so we need to exploit that extra sales potential for our franchise owners. We are also 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.