Showrooms give great credibility

As property sales plummet, another year of growth has seen Dream Doors well positioned to benefit from the subsequent high demand for home improvement

Gordon Patterson: How has 2008 been for Dream Doors?
Troy Tappenden: We finished the year with our British Franchise Association (bfa) membership upgraded to full member status. We opened seven new showrooms in Norwich, Kingston, Plymouth, Northants, Dublin, Exeter and Cheltenham. Despite the economic climate, Dream Doors' turnover has significantly increased year on year.

Gary Rigby: What awards did Dream Doors obtain this year?
Alex Waite: We were awarded bfa Brand Builder of the Year in May. Our Nottingham franchise owner was a finalist in the bfa Franchisee of the Year Awards in October and we were finalists in The Franchise Marketing Awards. We also won The National Training Award for the South East region in an awards scheme in conjunction with the UK skills council.

GP: What would you say were the keys to you winning the prestigious Brand Builder of the Year award?
TT: It was largely due to us exercising very close control over our brand image and demonstrating a huge investment in marketing. We featured twice on ITV's 60 Minute Makeover programme. We also advertised on ITV, with the Women's Institute, in SAGA and in the Mail on Sunday among other regional and national campaigns.

GP: What are the key elements of your Franchisor support to your franchise owners?
AW: They have a dedicated Franchise Manager who mentors them through every aspect of their business. We have a Technical Manager based in our head office. Our franchise owners have quarterly business coaching courses in sales training, customer care, finance, time management and people management. They are provided with ongoing access to a design agency and are provided with high quality marketing materials.

GR: How do you effectively communicate with your franchise owners?
AW: We have a bi-monthly newsletter, regional forums, an annual conference and an ongoing telephone helpline facility - together with a new intranet site for sharing best practice.

GP: How are developments currently in your business sector?
TT: In times of economic uncertainty and stagnation in the property market, people are looking to improve their home rather than move. The Dream Doors kitchen door replacement concept is positioned perfectly to maximise these opportunities in the economic climate. We can complete a kitchen face-lift for a fraction of the cost of a complete refurbishment.

GP: Do we understand that you now require all franchise owners to open a Dream Doors showroom?
TT: We require a showroom to be opened within six months of commencing business. The showroom historically has shown a trebling of turnover and gives great credibility. The presence of an 'on-the-street' showroom reassures the customer that Dream Doors is an established business.

GR: What kind of franchise package is delivered to the Dream Doors franchise owner?
TT: After going through a comprehensive training programme, our franchise owners leave with a full set of samples, swatches, the Dream Doors bespoke software, marketing materials, corporate clothing, livery for vehicles, corporate stationery and a pre-planned marketing launch. The latter provides 10 days minimum of hands-on support and on-location training in the first three months of trading.

GR: What kind of earnings opportunity does the Dream Doors franchise provide?
AW: Our franchise is 'white collar' management that provides a genuine business building opportunity. The average turnover of a Dream Doors showroom is £350,000 per annum - which typically returns a 40 per cent gross profit and a 20 per cent net profit to the franchise owner.

GP: Are there target locations that you are particularly keen to appoint franchises in?
TT: We now have 25 showrooms open and are looking to open at least another 50. There are, therefore, many suitable locations remaining.

GP: What kind of person are you looking for to appoint as a franchise owner?
AW: We are looking for high calibre people who have drive and ambition and who are willing to work hard with us to achieve success.