Gary Rigby talks to Blair Jenkins

Gary Rigby, of FDS Southern, talks to Blair Jenkins, CEO of Snack-in-the-Box

Gary Rigby: Could you provide us with a brief history of Snack-in-the-Box?
Blair Jenkins: We started franchising in 1996 after a successful ‘self service box’ pilot was run in the Hampshire area, where we focused on providing ‘snacks to the work place’ service. The business developed rapidly, and within the first two years of launching SITB, we had more than 40 franchise owners throughout the UK.

In 2009, SITB was bought by SnackTime, which resulted in it becoming the third biggest vending company in the UK, with in excess of 33,000 customers nationwide.

The support and back up we receive from SnackTime has enabled us to work closely with our franchise owners to offer first class operational, marketing and sales support.

SITB now has close to 100 franchised territories across the whole of the UK.

Gary Rigby: I suppose the Mars brand creates interest in the franchise opportunity, can you tell me how this affects the franchise owners?
Blair Jenkins: Our partnership with Mars enables the franchise owners to use the Mars branding across their business. This includes using the logo on their van, on sales and marketing materials and on vending machines. In addition, Mars confectionery manufactures nine out of the top 10 chocolate bars, which enables our franchise owners to stock all the UK’s favourite chocolate bars at preferential prices.

Gary Rigby: From your experience, what would you say is the ideal franchise owner profile?
Blair Jenkins: Our existing franchise owners really do come from all types of backgrounds (from both white and blue collar). That’s one of the benefits of SITB being so easy to run and having a simple business concept.

However, to maximise the opportunity they are given, franchise owners need to be hardworking, have a cheerful disposition and be customer focused at all times. We then put a business plan into place with them and work together for our mutual benefit.

Gary Rigby: You provide 75 per cent of the initial contacts for your franchise owners, can you explain more?
Blair Jenkins: When a franchise owner starts trading, we have already sited 75 per cent of their customer territory. This means the franchise owner has a territory of customers with vending machines already installed, running and earning them money. This is a huge advantage in that the franchise owner is able to earn a regular income immediately and not have to spend the first few months building their business from scratch with no income coming in.

This also gives the franchise owner a bit of breathing space to enable them to concentrate on growing and developing their business knowing they already have an initial income coming in.

Gary Rigby: I understand there are a number of opportunities to expand and grow the business. Could you explain more?
Blair Jenkins: The market potential for our franchise owners is massive. As there are so many small to medium sized businesses in the UK, it ensures the continued development of the SITB territories. The varied range of vending equipment allows franchise owners to offer and provide customers with a service, no matter how big or small they are.

SITB further supports franchise owners in the area of business development by providing new business via the large number of National Accounts we have and new enquiries received through our website. We can also provide franchise owners with sales and marketing support via a number of different mediums, such as business data, mailshot campaigns and sales agents.