Snack-in-the-Box: "We haven't looked back since"

Two Snack-in-the-Box franchisees reveal how they have built their successful snack-vending businesses with the help of the Cadbury brand name.

'We haven't looked back since'

The success of his SITB business has provided Maurice Hemmingway with the resources to support his daughter through medical school. 'As an engineer I couldn't earn anymore than the fixed rate,' he reveals, 'so I decided that if I wanted to help my daughter with her dream, I had to do something else.'

When he was given the option of redundancy at the age of 50, he took it and set about investing his redundancy cheque into a franchise. 'We got two tickets from The Franchise Magazine to go to the British Franchise Exhibition in Manchester,' recalls Maurice. 'I went with the full intention of looking at a courier franchise but instead came across SITB. At the time, my wife Sandra was unhappy with her job in a bank and she turned to me and said: 'I could do this with you.' We had a nice chat with the franchisors and the opportunity instantly appealed. Sandra and I went home and had a talk about it and decided to go ahead - we haven't looked back since.'

Maurice says that the main appeal of the franchise was simply the potential of the market. 'People won't stop eating and drinking - it's as easy as that,' he enthuses. 'We both also loved the concept of a mobile business, getting out and meeting new people.'

With a week's training at head office and time spent working alongside an existing SITB business, Maurice reveals:

'The training was very good. It was varied and hands-on but covered everything. I'm not scared of hard work and looked forward to putting what I had learned to the test.'

Launching in 1999, Maurice was initially helped onto his feet by SITB finding the first 150 customers as part of the package. 'There was nothing like this business in my area - people hadn't seen anything like this before' he exclaims.

'A SITB representative spent two weeks with me and by the end of the first week we had 200 customers. People in the area hadn't seen anything like this before.'

Still enjoying the helpful support he receives from SITB, Maurice is overjoyed at how his investment paid off. So much so that he and Sandra renewed their franchise agreement for another five years. 'Three years ago my daughter qualified as a doctor and I get more time to myself than I ever did before SITB.'

'A Great Boost for Business'

Investing in a Snack-in-the-Box (SITB) franchise proved the key to Susan and Keith Denwood realising their dream of working together. 'I was a head chef and my husband was a lorry driver,' explains Susan. 'Our jobs meant that we didn't spend as much time together as we'd have liked and we realised that the answer was to work for ourselves.'

Understanding the risks involved in starting their own independent business, the Denwoods focused their attentions towards franchising. Quitting their jobs, they felt that a franchise would be a safer and more secure route to self-employment and, through months of research, came across a handful of opportunities that appealed to them.

It was the association with the Cadbury brand that held the Denwoods' interest in SITB, says Susan. 'We thought this was a great boost to a business. The more we learned about the business, the more it appealed. It soon became apparent that this would be the business for us.'

Buying the Bradford business as a re-sale, the Denwoods benefited from inheriting a number of customers from day one - but did not rest on their laurels. 'It helped us get on our feet but we used what we learned in SITB's excellent training programme to canvas for new business and expand our customer base. One thing that we love about the franchise is the great flexibility it offers us. As there are no contracts for placing machines, we always have the ability to move those that are underperforming to sites that will potentially bring us more profits.'

Approaching the end of year one in the business, Susan exudes enthusiasm for the support she still receives from SITB. 'We've continued to receive great support,' she reports. 'This includes regular meetings and even a convention - there's a great network and everyone is willing to help, including other franchisees.'

Planning to expand the business gradually over the next few years by investing in more vending machines, Susan says she can only see the business getting bigger and better. 'It's a very pleasant job, we enjoy meeting new people everyday and our lives have changed for the better,' she enthuses.

'We get to see so much more of each other, it's fantastic. We believe in what we're doing and are very happy doing it.'