'We are enlightening people about non-invasive beauty treatments'

Bringing his vast experience of developing franchise networks to bear on a new technology-driven concept, MediLipo and Laserlift, Bill Owen provides his insights to FDS Southern consultants Gordon Patterson and Gary Rigby

Gordon Patterson: What is your background in franchising?
Bill Owen: I was involved in founding the Snack-in-the-Box (SITB) brand and model in February 1996. When we introduced the concept to the franchise marketplace we were bombarded with enquiries and in the first year we allocated 32 franchises. During my 14 years as the Managing Director of SITB, the brand became well known and I was involved in the allocation of franchises to in excess of 200 individuals. In September 2009 myself and the other shareholders sold the SITB business to Snacktime - I have to say that after 14 years of building a brand and a business from scratch it was a strange feeling not to own it any longer.

Gary Rigby: What has brought you back to franchising?
BO: Three years ago I started to consider what areas of business would continue to do well if there was a downturn in the economy. One really stood out to me and it had to do with the increase in non-invasive procedures for body shaping, fat reduction, cellulite and face rejuvenation. The market was huge with the analyst Mintel projecting that cosmetic procedures in the UK for both invasive and non-invasive would be worth more than £1 billion in 2009. More and more specialist equipment for non-invasive treatments was being introduced and I decided to dip my toe in the water. After 18 months of thoroughly evaluating my chosen equipment, we are now ready to launch with specific laser equipment produced for us right here in the UK at unbelievable prices.

GR: What do you provide to franchise owners through the franchise package?
BO: The effects of the recession are still with us and banks are slow to help new business owners. This means that the entry price point must be low. However, I have learned from over 200 franchise owners trained by SITB that you cannot compromise on the franchise package. It has to start with comprehensive training and the franchise owner must feel that the franchisor is on the end of the phone or e-mail. My experienced support team and I are in place to offer assistance with a launch programme. Our websites are going to be crucial in directing potential clients to the franchise owners, who will choose their own hours and therefore how much they want to earn. The more ambitious franchise owner can opt to run both Medilipo and Laserlift together by employing additional therapists. It really is that scaleable, operating costs are low and to have a service that encourages repeat business is always a plus point.

GP: How do you see the future for this sector?
BO: The whole world is now image conscious and many people do not recognise that there are non-invasive procedures using low level lasers that really work, safely and pain-free. Market analysts Mintel said that in 2008, 577,000 cosmetic treatments were carried out in the UK compared with 300,000 in 2005. The number of non-invasive procedures rose from 230,000 to 472,000. With Medilipo and Laserlift we are enlightening people about these treatments being available at a realistic cost. The biggest growth area is men looking for fat reduction.

GR: What kind of people are you looking to appoint as franchise owners?
BO: I have met the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of franchise owners over the years and have come to recognise the type of person that will make a franchise work. They will need to be genuinely interested in their own appearance and the well-being of others; a confident communicator; looking for an affordable and unique business opportunity; motivated by success; reliable and hard-working; committed to helping others and passionate about their product and service.

GP: What is your five year goal plan?
BO: I really do feel that these two brands and the services they offer are so in the right place at the right time. This is affordable for the franchise owner in a full or part-time approach and equally affordable for their clients. It would be wonderful to have a crystal ball and say that I can see between 75 and 150 franchise owners working alongside me over the next few years. Having said that, I do believe that you get what you deserve in business.