O2: Dynamic franchise opportunity

The opportunity to work with an established national brand appealed to self-employed mobile phone salesman Zakir Patel. Rachel Spaul reports

A phone call from a friend in Germany set Leeds man Zakir Patel on a new path in business. O2 was bringing its already successful franchise opportunity to the UK, and was looking for individuals with some retail experience to own and operate their own O2 stores.

Zakir Patel, who already ran his own mobile phone business, had never previously considered becoming a franchisee but saw an opportunity to continue in his current business under the O2 branding, supported by a national company with a proven network of franchise and partner outlets. Zakir reasons: 'As an independent store owner you have to get out there and sell your business - O2 is renowned worldwide.'

The mobile phone market is fast-paced, competitive and driven by consumer desire for good customer service and top products for the best price. Mark Stansfeld, O2 Sales Director, explains:

'It is important that customers can buy a mobile phone in an environment where they feel supported, can ask questions, browse, and find out about forthcoming products and services. By expanding our network of stores through franchising we aim to combine the best of the owner-operator strengths of the franchisee with the strengths of O2's brand, systems, services and products, including the collective benefits of our own brand marketing and advertising programme. We expect our combined company-owned and franchised network to become one of the largest mobile telecommunications retail portfolios in the UK.'

Franchisees are given ample training and ongoing support to prepare them for entering this exciting growth market and to help them grow substantial businesses. Zakir recalls: 'Both myself and my staff received extensive training. Although I'd run my own business before, I found the training on O2's operating systems and their mystery shopper agenda very useful. O2 offer an excellent support package, which is vital.'

Since launching his business in April, Zakir has received further training and support including mentor support for the first four weeks following the launch. He reports steady growth and has already started searching for a second site for his next store, such is his belief in the potential of the business. 'I'm really happy with my business,' he agrees. 'The potential is massive, especially for independent business owners, providing the location is right.'

All proposed franchise outlets will complement existing O2 retail stores and will not affect any current stores, or any that are planned under the existing expansion programme.

'O2 is one of the most successful network operators in the UK,' Mark furthers. 'We have 92 per cent brand awareness among our target customer group. Across our current 342 UK stores, we have a track record of turning our brand strength into sales. We believe franchising offers an incredible opportunity for customer focused individuals to engage with the O2 brand and the dynamic mobile market.'