Reputation is Key to Success

The established success of O2 franchised retail outlets is convincing new franchisees to quickly establish plans to become multiple unit owners, as the case of new franchisee Sara Pearson illustrates

Through the power of branding O2 has been able to deliver a positive experience to both its customers and franchisees. With a strong focus on service, shop-fit, stock and training O2 has been able to provide consumers with a positive shopping experience for a number of years. This in turn has led to a good reputation, which franchisees have been able to successfully trade on.

With its fresh, energetic national and European advertising campaigns coupled with a recommendation from an existing franchisee, O2's franchise opportunity offered an ideal alternative for Sara Pearson's desk job as a Management Accountant for a pen retailer. 'I had thought about running my own business for sometime,' reflects Sara. 'I wanted a business in a fast paced industry where I could play a hands-on role rather than hide in an office.

'I also wanted a venture where I could work flexible hours when my husband and I felt ready to start a family. My parents owned successful franchises when I was younger, so the decision to invest in a franchise was an easy one. I knew a franchisor offered a support network and training programme, which I felt I needed, as my shop floor experience was limited and I wanted to own a retail franchise.'

Sara decided to shadow a friend who already owned an O2 franchise to get a feel of what it was like to run the retail business on a day-to-day basis. 'After witnessing the success of my friend's business I realised an O2 franchise was the sort of investment opportunity I had been waiting for,' says Sara. 'The mobile telecommunications industry is continually changing as mobile phones and their software evolve and because mobile phones have been part of everyday life for a number of years now, I knew the consumer demand was not just a fad.'

Sara launched her franchise in May, in the North East town of Wallsend. Determined to expand rapidly over the next few years, Sara already has her second store in the pipeline. 'One of the perks of investing in a well-known national brand like O2 is customers walking in from day one,' she explains. 'Although I am the only mobile phone retailer in my area, I would have found the first few weeks of trading a lot more difficult if I had opened a shop completely on my own.'

O2's one-month training course is based in an existing store enabling franchisees and their staff to learn the ropes on the job. Sara and her manager were sent to a different store to her staff so that when the time came for them all to work together there would not be an issue of authority. In terms of support, O2 offers quarterly conferences, area meetings, a retail hotline for queries, a support hotline and the help of a Support Manager on the week of the launch. Sara explains: 'O2's focus on maintaining a high level of staff knowledge through training and quality in terms of service, products and shop-fit means the customer associates the O2 brand with a positive shopping experience that they are happy to repeat.'

Interviewed by Jess Sturman