Printing.com: Move Over Boys...
...a new generation of women entrepreneurs are charting the way forward for Printing.com's Territory Franchise opportunity. Franchise Director Simon Davies reports
Government figures continue to show that women are very much under-represented in Board and Senior Management positions, and even within the entrepreneur community women are once again in the minority by a factor of three. So what about franchising? Again, a similar story is encountered with British Franchise Association surveys indicating that only one in four franchisees are female.
However, the good news is that more female franchisees are joining up than ever before. To highlight this, some of Printing.com's recent female recruits share the reasons why they set up in business for themselves and what made them choose Printing.com:
Nita JethwaNita studied fashion, however her previous experience was centred in energy broking via a company she set up with her husband. After a number of years she was ready for a new direction and looking for a business that would allow greater scope for her creative energies.
Nita considered the traditional printing franchises but opted to become a Printing.com Territory Franchisee as it eliminated the need for in-house production. She now owns the Coventry store and oversees the development of Bolt-on Franchises within the Coventry and Warwickshire Territory. 'With Printing.com we can focus on the client relationship and the creative solution that we develop and then use Printing.com's Flyerlink system to transmit the order to the centralised production Hub,' Nita highlights. 'Essentially we're a mini advertising agency for our clients.'
Fiona HumberstoneFiona originally joined Printing.com as a fast-track trainee in 2000, rising to Regional Director by 2003. This role saw her coordinating franchise support throughout the South of England. Post maternity leave, Fiona returned to work in January 2005. While she had intended to continue her climb of the corporate ladder, her personal objectives had changed and she was keen for a more flexible arrangement centred on her role as a new mum.
Says Fiona: 'While I considered various flexible working options I decided that there was a no better flexible working option than to become my own boss and own a Printing.com franchise.'
Accordingly Fiona became a Territory Franchisee for the Guildford and East Surrey Territory operating her own Printing.com in Guildford and responsible for the marketing and support of Bolt-on Franchises in the neighbouring towns. Six months on, Fiona's business is trading above budget and has just employed its third member of staff.
Sarah SimpkinsLike Fiona, Sarah joined the Printing.com training scheme in 2000 and was managing the Sheffield store and Greater South Yorkshire area 18 months later. In addition to completing the necessary Printing.com training Sarah embarked on professional studies with the Chartered Institute of Marketing gaining the Advanced Certificate in Marketing.
Just over a year ago Sarah substituted managing for owning by becoming the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Territory Franchisee. 'I had a five year trial run before buying it,' quips Sarah. 'It certainly stacked up as a good deal!'
Using her CIM training Sarah is keen to give her Sheffield store a greater emphasis on not just solving clients' printing needs but also addressing their marketing objectives.
Throughout South Yorkshire Sarah is also responsible for supporting three other Printing.com Bolt-on Franchises generating additional revenue streams in the form of commission payments.
Dorita CorreiaChartered Accountant Dorita had become tired of the 'one-dimensional' nature of the financial world and felt she was ready to cut loose with her own business venture. Along with her business partner she took the reigns of Printing.com's Ealing Territory Franchise in October 2004, with the first year showing strong like-for-like growth.
In August 2005 Dorita also acquired Printing.com's Reading Territory Franchise, providing a business corridor for West London through Berkshire and beyond. Dorita reveals: 'Based on the progress we have made the bank was very supportive of our expansion.' Dorita's business now comprises two Printing.com stores with seven personnel. They have also just gained their first Bolt-on Franchise by partnering with an established printer in Newbury, who will offer the Printing.com service in tandem with their own services.
Yvonne HulseYvonne originally joined Printing.com as a Graphic Designer back in 1994. She rejoined in 2003 following a number of positions with other print businesses.
Yvonne and her husband Peter took the reigns of Printing.com's Liverpool store and Merseyside Territory in February 2005 (Yvonne and Peter, previously a Development Manager for a rival print franchise, were featured on the cover of The Franchise Magazine April/May 2005). Over the last year Yvonne has seen their hard work translate into a significant growth in sales. Across the Merseyside Territory Yvonne has also added two Bolt-on Franchises taking the complement of Bolt-on Franchises in the region to four. 'While we have a high profile city centre store, the Bolt-on formula gives Printing.com within Merseyside a significantly higher presence,' Yvonne explains. 'This facet of the model not only generates good revenues but makes the operation of the franchise more interesting.'
Sue RustSue's route to becoming a Printing.com Territory Franchisee could be thought of as the exception that proves the rule. Sue founded Custard Creative back in the early 1990s with the company becoming one of Northampton's leading Design Agencies. In 2002 Sue added a Printing.com Bolt-on Franchise to Custard Creative. She explains: 'This gave us a far more marketable print offering to complement our design services than we had had previously.'
When the advent of the Printing.com Territory Franchise caught Sue's eye, she decided to take a back seat in Custard Creative. Building works on her Northampton store are almost complete with the launch expected imminently. Following this, Sue is keen to commence marketing the Bolt-on Franchise opportunity to established graphic designers and copy shops with the potential existing for significant expansion.
Sue adds: 'As a Bolt-on Franchisee we had a good sense of the values that Printing.com stood for and that encouraged me to look for an even closer business relationship via a Territory Franchise.'
START A STORE FRANCHISE & BUILD A TERRITORY
If you're looking for a b2b franchise then maybe printing.com has already caught your eye!
Perhaps the compelling price points, including full colour business cards for only £49, have encouraged your own mystery shopping and you've found out first hand that printing.com really do offer the end-user better value.
Centralised production, at printing.com's multi-million pound Hub, means you don't have need to invest in production machines, or employ printers within your operation. This frees up space and management time - both vital resources - that can be given over to marketing initiatives. The absence of printing equipment on-site logically means reduced start-up costs for your franchise and gets you thinking about the important return on your capital investment.
With this combination of high first year sales and reduced start-up costs, it's little wonder that the number of printing.com franchised stores is rapidly expanding. The printing.com Territory Franchise provides another compelling element for budding entrepreneurs. The printing.com Store estate is capped at just 65 outlets, approximately a third of the size of other leading chains - hence territories will be larger. Each Store Franchisee will now enjoy additional Territory entitlements without the usual associated added investments.
This is how it works. In each locality the printing.com Territory Franchisee, in addition to running their own outlet, has the opportunity to develop a network of 'Bolt-on' franchises. These 'Bolt-on' franchises are formed with existing, established printing companies, typically located in the smaller towns and districts.
Is it successful? Well to date, printing.com has attracted over 50 such partners in a little over 2 years - and the concept, similar to a retail concession, is working!
What's the appeal? Very simply, the Territory Franchisee receives a share of license fees and ongoing revenues. Building a network of between three and eight 'bolt-ons' could increase franchise profits by over 50%. While the financial return is important, this added dimension will provide management stimuli, leveraging the operational expertise into a consultative delivery.
Territories (including the launch of your own Store) are available from £105k to £125k. Opportunities also exist to acquire an established, presently Company-operated unit. Our franchise opportunity enjoys the support of the leading clearing banks.