One Year On

A year after he launched his Bristol-based FiltaFry Plus franchise, Dane Sampson explains how he found the missing link in his career plan - being his own boss - and the advantages of being a franchise owner.

The Franchise Magazine: Why did you choose franchising?

Dane Sampson: I initially chose the franchise route, as I knew I would not be on my own. Also, if I needed a question answered I could always pick up the phone and speak to someone.

What did you do before taking up a franchise?

I had a 9-5 job in an estate agency, although I enjoyed my job there was something missing. The missing link was, of course, being my own boss. I now work more hours than in my previous job but the rewards are far greater.

How did you raise the finance?

Savings helped to get me on the business ladder with a deposit of around £7,000. The Filta Group then arranged all the financing with the NatWest Bank Franchising Team, who were very helpful and due to the great record that FiltaFry has with them, they were able to lend me the balance plus working capital.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

The training at The Filta Group is very good indeed. It consisted of four days in-house training in Rugby to cover health and safety, fryer management, business management, invoicing etc.

This was followed by a full week of in-field training with an experienced franchise owner, which familiarised me with the operation of the machine, prospecting and dealing with customers generally on a daily basis.

The third part of training and launching the business was to have a Business Development Manager from head office touring my territory with me and showing me how to approach independent and national account clients and giving me the skills to develop my business in the future. They also followed my initial progress for the next eight weeks to ensure I reached my goals and targets.

My round is currently split into 40 per cent independent clients and 60 per cent national account clients. FiltaFry has major links with the big catering companies and these ties are crucial to getting a foot in the door.

What challenges have you had to overcome?

As with any business, the initial step of establishing yourself in your local area is the hardest. I enjoy getting on with people and this has become an asset especially in this sort of business. Building a valuable rapport with your clients is key and meeting new people all the time is one of the best things.

How has becoming a franchise owner changed your life?

It has given me a lot of confidence to go out and get what I want in life. It has been hard and it has taken a lot of hard graft and determination but it has also given me a will to succeed and a drive to become the best at what I do. I am also now very proud of my achievements.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about buying their first franchise?

You should research the franchise carefully to ensure the opportunity you are going into is something that you want to do, can see yourself doing and can also see customers willing to pay for. FiltaFry appealed to me as it was very unique and had no direct competitors. It is also a weekly repeat business and needs only 35 to 40 customers to make a decent living.

Having been established for such a long time, FiltaFry has the market share for this type of service and this again is what appealed to me. Taking on a franchise is by no means a ‘licence to print money’ but it will give you the ability to become your own boss and work your own hours. The amount of money you wish to earn is completely at your control.

What are your plans for the future?

A year on and my reputation within my local area has grown and I have taken on a considerable amount of repeat weekly customers that I service. In the new year, I will be thinking about expanding the business and employing someone to take over my existing round while I build up another round within my current area.

Would you do it again?

The FiltaFry franchise has given me a lot of confidence when it comes to dealing with the public and trying to win over business. This business is very customer orientated but I have had no problems, as I do get along with everyone I meet. This business is certainly about interpersonal skills and generally getting along with people. Meeting new faces each and every day means there is never a dull moment.

So I have no complaints or regrets and yes, I would do it all over again and I am glad that I chose FiltaFry Plus and The Filta Group. They have provided everything that was promised and are always available to speak to for advice when needed. However, they are not constantly on the phone or dropping in on me when I could be working or generating new business.