Gordon Patterson talks to Godfrey Lancashire
Franchise Consultant Gordon Patterson talks to Godfrey Lancashire, Managing Director of London House International.
Gordon Patterson: As a business providing your specialist services through a franchise network, is London House one of the leading brands in your sector?
Godfrey Lancashire: We like to think so! Having been in business for 16 years, we do believe that our reputation within our industry is as strong as any. We may not be necessarily the biggest but certainly we have an excellent name for providing high quality service and our brand is well recognised among all the major clients.
Gordon Patterson: In your management team you have many years of experience in the provision of financial and investigation services. Has your approach to the business changed much over the years within a changing market place?
Godfrey Lancashire: There has been a great deal of change over the last 16 years; in particular the access to systems and use of technology including satellite navigation and Google, which have enabled our work to be streamlined and carried out in a much more efficient way. However, our USP of providing intelligence from field-based operations is as necessary as ever. When that envelope is returned ‘Gone Away’, there is only one way of finding out and that is by a discreet knock at the door.
Gordon Patterson: What do you see to be the key advantages of franchising to London House?
Godfrey Lancashire: Franchising has enabled us to carry out instructions for our clients in a cost effective way. Our major clients – the high street banks and many top 50 law firms – also recognise that franchising provides a true partnership and they trust our franchise owners far more than they would a sub-contracted field force who would change much more regularly and without the same controls.
Gordon Patterson: What kind of package do you offer to the franchise owner?
Godfrey Lancashire: It is very comprehensive and includes two weeks of residential training, full marketing support, business development support, all the forms and stationery required to run the business and in addition tangible business from our national client base which is worth cash.
Gordon Patterson: What do you see to be the key benefits to a franchise owner acquiring a London House franchise?
Godfrey Lancashire: Being part of a respected brand and being able to hit the ground running with work referred by head office from day one.
Gordon Patterson: Have you particular geographical areas that you are targeting?
Godfrey Lancashire: We still have opportunities UK-wide but interestingly there are still some key postcode areas in London, which offer excellent business building potential.
Gordon Patterson: To what degree can franchise owners receive referral business from head office?
Godfrey Lancashire: Like many franchise opportunities, you are not buying a job but rather investing in your own business. London House differs to a degree in that we do issue tangible work from our national client base to our different postcode offices. On average after two to three years, we estimate this percentage to be 25 per cent with 75 per cent to be locally generated business.
Gordon Patterson: What kind of person is best suited to owning and developing a London House franchise?
Godfrey Lancashire: Someone with professional background, not necessarily in a related sector. However, the most important qualities are people skills and, above all, an enthusiasm to grow your own business.
Gordon Patterson: Can you tell us about some of the key positions within affiliated organisations you have held?
Godfrey Lancashire: I was a Director of the Credit Services Association for 14 years and President between 2007 and 2009. The CSA is the only trade body in the UK representing our industry and during that time I liaised with key Government figures up to Ministerial level together with all the regulators, eg. OFT, Information Commissioner, FSA etc.
Gordon Patterson: What is in store for London House?
Godfrey Lancashire: We aim to complete our UK network within the next two years and are already fairly well advanced in our research into opening our first office in Spain. Our ‘international’ brand is now producing a much greater flow of business both in to the UK and overseas.