Huge market potential

With sales of £10k by month three, Kevin Andrews got off to a great start with his franchise and has continued to build.

Coming into the Recognition Express franchise with a background in graphics, pre-press and design provided Kevin Andrews with an educated viewpoint in which to judge the business. Although prospective franchisees need no specific experience in the industry, Kevin was pleased to find the franchise offered him an opportunity to do something on his own utilising the skills he had developed in his previous career.

'Recognition Express is a good fusion of working in the marketing products industry and building a substantial business, backed by a company that is very well established with a good 28 year track record,' says Kevin. 'I had looked at some other sign and print related franchises, but the huge diversity of Recognition Express's market convinced me to become a franchisee. We cover signage, name badges, pens... you name it, if you want it branded we can provide it!'

Kevin completed his initial franchisee training in June 2004, and was ready to launch his business the next month. 'The head office set up provides good backup, and I could immediately see that if you are willing to put something into this business, you will get something out of it,' he reflects. 'While I had a strong product background, there was still a lot to learn because I'd never run a business before. The franchisee training prepares you well, especially if you've never been involved in sales before.

'Getting sales on the board is a major aspect of this business, and I adapted quickly to the sales and marketing side. I did a lot of networking, including business breakfasts, which served me well. I also benefited from the franchisor-run marketing drive which got me into face-to-face meetings with potential clients. The two strategies combined got me off the mark quickly, and by month three I'd turned over £10,000 in one month.'

Kevin has moved his business into a 2,000sqft unit in Taunton, with two employees assisting in product manufacturing. 'We've come on in leaps and bounds, and I've doubled the turnover of the business every year,' he relates. 'Franchisees can outsource the product manufacturing and focus on setting up a sales office, but I prefer to do a fair bit of manufacturing in-house to benefit from better margins and I intend to build that capacity, which means taking on more staff. My success has been through keeping my customers happy and building business through reputation and recommendations from happy clients. My short term goal is to build toward an annual £250,000 turnover and then take the business upward from there.'

Steve Sykes, Recognition Express Cheshire

I was previously the Managing Director of a small group of six companies, but I wanted to move into a business of my own. Because I was familiar with the volatile nature of business, and how difficult it is to build up a new business, I looked at franchise opportunities that would provide the security of a track record. With 28 years of trading Recognition Express certainly has that stability, as well as a very low failure rate among its franchisees.

I launched my business in Cheshire in March 2003, and I've seen it follow a steady and consistent build up. I achieved my target of £60,000 in sales in my first year, with continued growth my business was approaching an annual turnover of £200,000 by year four. I operate purely as a one person operation working from a home office, outsourcing a large percentage of the manufacturing either to the central manufacturing facility at head office or to external manufacturing companies. This allows me to focus on building the business, and the next step for me will be to bring staff on board to take care of the day-to-day running so that I can focus on growth even more.

The quality of the Recognition Express product range is absolutely top end - this and the personalised service we provide to clients sets us apart in the industry. We provide a one-stop branding solution, in effect become an external brand manager for our clients.

Interview by Stuart Anderson