Aim High For 2012 with one of Granite Transformations’ flexible franchise packages

Granite Transformations franchise owners continue to thrive thanks to the introduction of new revenue streams, on top of the brand’s renowned product lines and support network.

Chain store franchising is on the increase both sides of the Atlantic, as major brands look to convert company-owned outlets into franchises. It provides further proof that the franchise model really works, with experienced multiple retailers seeking would-be entrepreneurs to share the expense and risk of running a successful chain.

In this context, Granite Transformations, with close to 180 showrooms worldwide, is distinctive in that it was structured from the ground up as a franchised operation.

Back in 1996, its founders planned it along franchise lines, with the ultimate goal of expanding from its Australian base into the USA and Europe, and it has adhered to those principles ever since, with only the occasional company-owned outlet to provide seed corn for expansion into fresh markets.

Global expansion

So, Granite Transformations understands franchising and the particular needs of its franchise owners. One of its primary commercial focuses is on helping its franchise owners to build successful, profitable individual businesses and to minimise exposure to risk by employing tried and tested procedures. The other main focus is on recruiting new franchise owners to continue expanding the global network.

The franchisor’s Chief Operating Officer in the UK, Danny Hanlon, has been involved from the very start, helping to launch pilot showrooms in Australia and the USA, before taking responsibility for the UK operation, and has a firm handle on the intricacies of running a franchise network. This has helped UK franchise owners’ businesses to sustain consistent growth year on year, with a third of showrooms exceeding £1 million annual turnover.

Part of this can be attributed to the introduction of additional revenue streams for the franchised showrooms, on top of the core product offering of replacement kitchen worktops. First there were replacement doors, a natural companion to worktop refacing and expected to account for up to 50 per cent of turnover in the next few years. Now, it’s glass mosaic tile splashbacks – courtesy of sister company Trend – which are mounted on an innovative mattress backing, enabling them to be installed over existing tiles and other surfaces. No wonder then that Granite Transformations has laid claim to the title ‘king of kitchen makeovers’.

Completing the network

Filling in the remaining gaps in nationwide coverage is still a priority for Danny Hanlon. He is looking for new franchise owners of the same calibre as the present ones, who are able to continue building the brand without diluting its reputation for quality, reliability and value. Mindful that would-be investors are understandably risk-averse in the current financial climate, he has revised the portfolio of Granite Transformations franchise packages to tailor schemes to different skill sets and generally lower the price of entry.

All packages, bar one, come with a generous allocation of 100,000 households, together with geographical mapping of prime prospects, which Granite Transformations calculates is the optimum size for a flourishing individual business and provides sufficient geographical separation between franchises. Once a franchise territory has been fully established, there is the option of acquiring further 100,000-household ‘building blocks’, either in adjacent postcode territories or elsewhere, with interest-free loans available thanks to a Partners for Profit initiative.

Packages for all pockets

The standard Granite Transformations franchise package focuses on retail sales and home installations only, eliminating the worktop fabrication element, with the franchise owner operating a retail showroom in a prominent high street location. The newly-reduced, one-off licence fee of £18,000 covers intensive franchise owner and staff training, extensive sales and marketing material, comprehensive operations manuals and a franchise licence for an exclusive sales territory. There is also head office assistance with locating suitable premises and fitting out the showroom to brand standards.

For those wishing to limit their initial exposure, there is now a ‘concession showroom’ package, which dispenses with high street premises, in exchange for an in-store site in a garden centre or retail complex. The licence fee is the same, because the induction programme and ongoing support are identical, but this removes the leasing, legal, fitting-out and signage costs associated with acquiring standalone retail premises.

Lower still, with a licence fee of £15,000 that includes the 100,000-household exclusive sales territory, is a franchise package for existing kitchen, bathroom and other compatible retailers, who would run a Granite Transformations franchise alongside an existing independent business. The fee takes into account existing skill sets and market experience, while the bolt-on franchise introduces a further profitable revenue stream for retailers looking to diversify.

There is still the option of the ‘all singing, all dancing’ franchise arrangement, which involves operating both a high street showroom and nearby fabrication workshop and which is the model adopted by all founding Granite Transformations franchise owners. The fee is increased to £30,000, but this covers a highly-prized manufacturing licence and an extended sales territory of 200,000 households, as well as classroom and on-site training for workshop staff.

This option entails investing in a factory unit and fabrication equipment, in addition to showroom premises, and recruiting technical staff to operate the workshop, although it ensures greater earnings from routine domestic installations and opportunities to compete for lucrative commercial contracts. Unlimited profit potential

“With the franchise model generating increased interest on the retail scene, we are looking to attract people of the right calibre with a flexible portfolio of franchise packages, even including bespoke arrangements in select cases,” explains Danny. “The option now extends from a garden centre display area, which could be run with ‘two men and a van’ and a commission-only sales person, to a fully-fledged retail and manufacturing business with almost unlimited profit potential.

“Granite Transformations has been built entirely as a franchise operation and we have an excellent track record of nurturing our franchise holders through to full profitability, by eliminating risks where possible and passing on proven technique. We know when to lend a helping hand if needed and when to leave our franchise owners to run their own businesses as they choose, and this formula has proven successful to date, not just here but across four continents.”

Reported by David Gent