Ripples: The recipe for your success

A multi award-winning bathroom designer, Ripples is offering a limited number of franchises to suitable candidates during 2006. Rachel Spaul reports

Ripples is a top-end bathroom designer and retailer with 14 franchised showrooms in the UK. Its high quality, luxury bathrooms have caught the eye of celebrities, award-winning hotels and professionals, and its designers have received awards every year.

With three franchises poised to open, Ripples is searching for just four more franchisees during 2006. Candidates will need to be committed to the Ripples brand and share the company's ethos of innovation and quality.

'We're like top chefs,' Paul Crow, Commercial Director, compares. 'We've taken talented designers, quality products and customer service, an aspirational showroom environment, and the right customers coming through the doors, and mixed them together to create a winning formula.'

Founded in 1988 by Roger and Sandra Kyme, the Ripples business system is based on Roger's lifetime of industry experience. Since the first franchised showroom opened in 1995, the industry has grown dramatically. According to Ripples, it is currently worth c£1.6 billion, rising circa five per cent each year.

Working in a carefully designed showroom surrounded by quality products and managing a small team of designers is proving particularly popular with husband and wife teams. Paul confirms:

'This business is ideally suited to partner teams, with the shop management and administrative duties divided between them. We have franchisees from diverse backgrounds such as hairdressing, advertising and accountancy, as no previous experience is needed.

'We provide in-depth product and business method training at our company-owned showroom and will help design and fit-out your showroom, recruit and train staff, and support you through your launch and while you grow your business. In addition, other franchisees within the Ripples network have a genuine desire to help their fellow franchisees.'

Requiring an investment of £75,000, Ripples' franchisees benefit from an established but expanding brand that boasts no closures in its 11 years in franchising and favourable buying terms negotiated with suppliers by the Ripples Head Office team. Paul sums up: 'We're looking for people who share our desire to do things properly and who are dedicated to providing innovative design and quality service.'

Talking to Franchisees...

Husband and wife team Nicola and Gary Dowling invested in Ripples Winchester having been impressed by the service they received from the Ripples flagship store in Bath. Nicola, former owner of a hairdressing salon, describes their initial impressions of the company as 'very professional and helpful'. They also felt that the showroom environment would be a really nice place to work in.

Nicola and Gary opened their showroom following an intensive six-week training course in August 2002. 'The first day was very nerve racking with lots of people popping in out of curiosity,' Nicola recalls. 'The place was buzzing and very exciting, we had plenty of positive feedback from our customers.'

As part of the franchise package, Ripples helped Nicola and Gary locate and fit out their showroom and to place local advertising promotions. Two members of the head office team stayed with them for the opening and visited four consecutive Saturdays after.

'Ripples visit every four weeks to check that everything is running smoothly and if we have any problems in between,' Nicola reports. 'They help us with a number of things such as general business plans and everyday issues, for example helping with supplier and customer queries. We can rely on their experience and expertise and that of other franchisees as well.'

When asked what gives Ripples its competitive edge, Nicola quotes: 'Our showroom is beautifully fitted out with up-to-date equipment on display, it is well maintained with regular new displays, lovely lighting and scented candles. The displays are designed by our own highly talented designers and are very innovative.'

With a showroom extension planned for next year and the potential to open a second, Nicola and Gary are looking forward to a prosperous future. 'We really enjoy the business and we get a real buzz from seeing the completed bathrooms and happy customers.'