Gordon Patterson talks to Snack-in-the-Box

Franchise Consultant Gordon Patterson talks to Snack-in-the-Box Managing Director Phil Horth and Sales Director Sean Cleveland.

Gordon Patterson: I understand Snack-in-the-Box (SITB) initially started by providing snack boxes for work places. When did franchising commence and how did it develop over those first years?

Phil Horth: We started franchising in 1996 after a successful pilot was run in the Hampshire area. The ‘honesty box’ concept really took off in those early days and within two years, we had built up a network of more than 40 franchise owners throughout the UK. The market potential for our franchise owners was massive, and still is to this day. There are so many small to medium sized businesses in the UK and Ireland, which ensures the continued development of our franchise owners businesses.

Gordon Patterson: Why was the vending franchise introduced and how did it subsequently develop?

Phil Horth: Our ‘Box’ market place is typically aimed at small businesses. Therefore in our early days, we were walking away from dozens of potential medium sized businesses, who were not suited to the ‘Box’ concept, and yet still had no provision for snacks and beverages. As a result, in 1999, we introduced our compact vending franchise.

The development was rapid and today, SITB has nearly 100 franchise owners, servicing more than 15,000 businesses with a range of equipment, including Honesty Boxes and Vending machines.

Gordon Patterson: How long was SITB associated with Cadbury in its franchising operation and what instigated the change to Mars®?

Phil Horth: Such was the success of the SITB Honesty Box concept in its early days, it attracted the attention of numerous confectionery manufacturers. Cadbury became partners of SITB and for nearly 10 years we enjoyed a successful relationship with them that benefited franchise owners, customers, Cadbury and SITB.

As a result of the recent acquisition of SITB by SnackTime PLC, Mars is now our new brand partner. It doesn’t just stop there though, as SnackTime PLC has also introduced Walkers and Britvic as additional brand partners with SITB.

The Mars market share in the UK is very strong, having five out of 10 of the top selling chocolate bars! In addition, franchise owners have seen their margins increase as a result of selling Mars products, which are highly competitive when compared to other confectionery manufacturers.

The strategic relationship with Mars is particularly important in the development of the franchise network and an important asset value to SITB and the franchise owners.

Gordon Patterson: How many franchise owners does SITB now have in its network and what opportunity is there for new franchise appointments?

Sean Cleveland: We currently have just under 100 franchise owners, but there are still plenty of areas available for someone to join our successful operation.

We now have development plans to double the franchise network in the next few years in the UK and Ireland and will be launching our new franchise package and vending products in May 2011. This will enable us to enhance our offering to the benefit of existing and new franchise owners, as well as customers.

Gordon Patterson: Why did you introduce three flexible options and what do you see the advantages to be?

Sean Cleveland: Our three options are for example purposes only as we are now able match the earnings aspirations of any candidate by mixing and matching our vending products. The real advantage to this is that we now recognise the demands of the customers and franchise owners and can now offer a whole range of equipment/product that suits their needs. This gives our franchise owners flexibility when selling their services to all potential customers and opens up a whole range of new opportunities.

Gordon Patterson: What is the essence of the ongoing support services provided by SITB as franchisor?

Sean Cleveland: Franchise owner ongoing support is essential in any franchise organisation – it’s all about working together towards a common goal. SITB has always had a philosophy that our franchise owners are running their own businesses. However, our support centre and field teams provide franchise owners with ongoing support around a whole range of business matters.

Gordon Patterson: How would you summarise the next five-year business development plan for SITB?

Phil Horth: The future is really exciting, as we build on our proven franchise as one of the UK’s premier workplace snack delivery business. We shall be focusing on two key areas of development.

The continued success and development of our existing franchise network, launching our exciting new franchise packages and doubling the size of our current franchise network.