Seeing is believing - and can really improve sales

The Oakleaf range of period mouldings and replica beams looks completely authentic. But get them in front of a prospective customer and they won't just be impressed - they're likely to keep coming back for more.

Oakleaf celebrated its 40th anniversary in December 2009, a period during which the family-run manufacturing business has enjoyed a prominent position in the UK home interiors market, providing niche products to commercial and private customers looking for an atmosphere of traditional styling. While continuing to enjoy a worldwide demand for its range of decorative mouldings, Oakleaf has built a strategy to expand its UK business through the development of a successful franchise network, and a growing number of self-motivated franchise owners are providing customers across the country with the high-quality local service so central to building sales.

Comments received from franchise owners - past and present - have underlined the company's motto that seeing really is believing, and new franchise owners are quick to realise the importance of allowing customers to see the product at first hand.

"While our products appear to be ancient oak created by the hand of medieval craftsmen," says Managing Director Jonathan Banister, "they are in fact 'fingerprint' copies, cast in a lightweight, hand-stained, resin-based material, which reproduces the ancient appearance, feel and sound with accuracy. "It's crucial that potential customers are given the opportunity to closely inspect samples so they can see for themselves the quality we achieve, and this essential service can only be delivered locally by franchise owners as enthusiastic as we are!"

Confirmation of the quality of Oakleaf products comes from its customers, a significant proportion of whom return for more. A customer in North London, for example, placed his first order for Oakleaf panelling in his dining room in the early 1990s and completed the project over 10 years later with three more panelled rooms and an oak-beamed kitchen.

Similarly, an interior designer who had previously specified Oakleaf panelling for a number of clients decided she wanted the same quality in her own home, an old Georgian farmhouse - requesting an antique paint finish to be more in-keeping, and incorporating a matching fireplace, bookshelves and pelmet. She was so thrilled by the effect achieved, she allowed the franchise owner to use the room to show future prospects.

Supported by the 'tools' provided as part of the franchise package, Oakleaf franchise owners can easily introduce the company and its products - whether personally via the recently-introduced mobile showroom at local shows, or with the help of associated retailers who have agreed to site product displays within their premises.

And with more than 80 per cent of visits converting into orders, franchise owners can visit prospective customers with plenty of confidence that a sale will follow.