Original Poster Company: The hallmark of a good franchise

Having awarded all of its 71 UK and Ireland franchises, international greeting card franchisor The Original Poster Company is offering select established businesses as re-sales.

From its foundation in 1991 as a greeting card publisher, The Original Poster Company (OPC) has grown into an international organisation with over 270 franchisees worldwide specialising in greeting card distribution. The opportunity has now arisen for committed people, with upwards of £25,000 (plus working capital) to invest in a franchise with an existing customer base and income from day one.

'Franchisees must be committed to the business, self-motivated and outgoing,' OPC Franchise Director Jeremy Webster outlines. 'This franchise revolves around building relationships with customers and selling a product, so franchisees must also be confident communicators. Sales experience is not necessary, but would be an advantage.'

Franchisees distribute greeting cards to the independent retail market, such as convenience stores, hospital shops, newsagents, post offices and card shops. Franchisees may also receive some national account leads from OPC head office. Stock is supplied on a sale or return basis with free displays so there is no risk for the retailer. Franchisees replace stock and collect the money each month. The business can be run from home with low overheads.

'With a mortgage and three children, we needed an income from day one,' reasons former IT professional Tony Hall, who bought the Southampton franchise from an existing franchisee at the start of 2003. 'Having worked in IT for 22 years, I was looking for a new opportunity but without taking the risk of starting up a new business. The OPC franchise met the criteria I set myself: a business that didn't require me to work nine-to-five, that didn't leave me stuck in an office, and provided an opportunity for me to build up a substantial income.'

Jeremy confirms: 'A franchise with OPC gives franchisees the freedom and independence to control their future. It is a proven system that has worked time after time for franchisees from all walks of life. This opportunity offers all the benefits of owning and running a franchise without the risks of starting an untested venture independently. As a leading franchisor of greeting cards we offer the support and expertise of an established international organisation.'

The seven-day training course is a blend of in-house, in the field, and sales training to equip franchisees with all the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to run their own OPC franchise. Franchisees are then introduced to their new customers before taking over the reins of the business. The training course is complemented by ongoing support and guidance from a team of experienced Business Development Managers and a National Account Manager.

With an extensive and ever-developing range of quality greeting cards, which are unique to OPC, and using the OPC marketing and merchandising system, there is plenty of opportunity for new franchisees to grow their customer bases and increase revenue from each customer.

Together with his wife Gill, Tony was trained at OPC's head office before being introduced to customers by the outgoing franchisee. 'When we took the business over it was generating around £60,000 turnover with 120 clients, which provided an annual income in the region of £30,000,' reports Tony. 'We had seen the trading figures before taking over and once we had taken over realised that there was also the potential to build the franchise.

'We've now built the customer base to 140 but, more importantly, we've built the earnings per customer by dropping the poorer performers and providing advice and support to improve the sales from the larger stores. Many shopkeepers are too busy to make the most of their greeting card section - we offer to look after it for them, replenishing stock and analysing the top selling ranges. Because we offer a full sale or return service, the shopkeeper can forget about those cards, and yet they'll still produce a good income for him.'

Tony is now reporting a turnover in the region of £110,000 per annum, with margins of about 50 per cent. 'We have also expanded our territory, investing in a second area covering Bournemouth,' Tony explains. 'This was also a re-sale from an existing franchisee, and has provided us with a further 70 customers. It's much more rewarding than my previous career, and we plan to keep it going for another seven years, until our youngest daughter goes to college. Then we'll look to sell up and buy a place abroad.'

As an international and national franchisor supplying over 28,000 retailers worldwide, OPC has secured a foothold in an industry estimated to be worth over £1.4 billion per year in the UK. If you want to go straight to the top with an OPC re-sale, call today to find out where your nearest available territory is.

Reported by Rachel Spaul and Stuart Anderson