A breath of Fresh Air

As one of the UK's largest mobile phone network operators, O2 is offering a retail concept with as much potential as it has brand-power. Adam Browning interviews

'I had been looking for the right franchise opportunity for a long time but kept on coming back to O2,' explains Downpatrick franchisee Stephen Dickinson. 'The franchise package they were offering attracted me for two main reasons. Firstly, the support they offered was excellent and secondly O2 has incredibly strong branding.'

Having perfected its franchise concept in Germany, which now has over 300 franchise and partnership outlets, O2 has begun to replicate this success in the UK. Having recently secured its 50th franchisee-owned store, O2 is further seeking franchisees to invest in and implement its proven business systems. As a previous business owner, Stephen knew that franchising was a more secure route to success, especially with the added business knowledge that would be gained through O2's training programme. 'It was very detailed and culminated in five weeks based in an existing store in order to let me get to grips with running the business,' he recalls. 'The training taught me everything I would need to know to start trading under the O2 banner - from technical and financial considerations, sales, product training and the ever-important aspect of customer care.'

This high standard of training paid off when Stephen launched his business in September and reveals that it got off to a great start. After just the first week, Stephen's store was ranked the 6th best performing in the network. Citing the level of support as one of his most important considerations, Stephen is happy to say that O2 really has delivered: 'There is a dedicated franchise development manager and I can always ring up for advice. O2 also has a team to help set up the store and an ex-O2 branch manager worked with me to make sure everything went right in the first few weeks.'

Explaining that great customer service is key, Stephen states that a franchisee should not only have good business acumen but also great business skills, to both attract customers and to motivate staff. 'If you're the right person for this franchise then there really is great potential to build and develop the business as a management opportunity. Already, I'm in the final stages of negotiations with my application for a second store. The business has taken off even quicker than I had expected.'