Malcolm Porter talks to Danny Hanlon

Malcolm Porter talks to Danny Hanlon, Chief Operating Officer at Granite Transformations

Malcolm Porter: When did Granite Transformations first start franchising?

Danny Hanlon: We have been trading in the UK since 2003, although the Granite Transformations franchise was established in 1996 in Australia and now has 200 franchised showrooms across four continents, with annual sales around £200 million.

Malcolm Porter: How has the franchise changed since its launch?

Danny Hanlon: We have now introduced a number of franchise package options, building on the original ‘retail showroom and manufacturing workshop’ model. Franchise owners can now choose to dispense with the fabrication side or even open a stripped-down branded concession site in a garden centre, reducing the fixed cost element. There’s also an in-store franchise showroom for existing kitchen and bathroom businesses looking for an entry into the lucrative makeovers market. These lower cost options are proving popular and we’re currently recruiting new franchise owners at a rate of around one a month.

Malcolm Porter: How has the current economic climate affected business?

Danny Hanlon: Despite the continued downturn, our combined network turnover actually remains remarkably consistent, as homeowners opt to stay put and invest in home improvement. Our franchise owners have all reported continued customer demand, against a downward trend in the kitchen franchise market, reflecting the unique nature of our retail offering. Economic uncertainty has actually accelerated our franchise recruitment programme, since we are offering a recession-proof business model, which people recognise and appreciate.

Malcolm Porter: What differentiates Granite Transformations from its competition?

Danny Hanlon: The material we use for our worktops is unlike any other on the market. It fits over existing kitchen work surfaces or bathroom tiles, thereby 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 quicker turnaround.

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 subsequently receive ongoing support from our Franchise Advisory Support Team (FAST).

In addition, we provide 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 attributes do you look for in potential franchise owners?

Danny Hanlon: 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. Overall, we’re looking for hardworking people with enthusiasm, self-motivation, integrity and good people skills.

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

Danny Hanlon: We have successfully introduced replacement kitchen doors to the franchise mix and are now adding our ‘mosaics on a mattress’ concept. This is a unique system of laying authentic 2cm square Italian glass mosaics, saving up to 40 per cent on installation times and ensuring a perfect finish every time, and it reflects the technology sharing available through our membership of the Trend Group. It means franchise owners can now add genuine glass mosaic splashbacks to our kitchen makeover offering and already showrooms are installing half a dozen full-height splashbacks each month. It keeps the brand fresh and adds a further revenue stream.