Now, 11 years later, Darren is still helping his customers with innovative new services that support their printing needs. With three stores in Rawtenstall, Accrington and Blackburn, it is this belief that has successfully underpinned his business for over a decade.
“My previous job was working in sales and marketing for an American firm called Electronic Data Systems with offices all around Europe. My role involved showing and selling the latest IT products and services for users’ desktop PCs. It was a role which involved an awful lot of travelling. With the birth of my first child I knew I needed to be nearer to home. Quite simply, it was either my family or the job, and I knew where my priorities needed to be.”
Which is why, when Darren visited the Franchise Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham, he saw a great opportunity. Darren continues, “I went down to the NEC, spotted the Cartridge World stand and started chatting to them. Straight away I could see here was a viable business in which to invest and make some money.”
What made Cartridge World attractive to Darren was its business model and it is this which has successfully adapted to suit the market over the past ten years. “Originally the model was very much a straight retail offering, but then came the internet and the global recession which changed how people buy products. Now the model has changed and it is about adding extra value through printing solutions for both business and retail customers” said Darren.
The key for Darren is supporting and growing his customer base. Currently he sells a lot of products and services to the healthcare sector including doctors and dentists, but also to schools, accountants and estate agents. Darren has been particularly innovative in introducing new services which support both his B2B clients and consumer customers. These print services can even be tailored to key vertical sectors.
He said: “Many existing business customers are asking for help with printing issues, whether that’s the cost of repairing or servicing existing equipment or simply giving them advice on new technology. This gave me an idea and we decided to develop a very simple laser printing service to help them.” The new Cartridge World Print Services offer has been rolled out across Darren’s three stores. It is a fixed monthly fee subscription based service, which flat lines printing costs, takes care of support and/or maintenance requirements, funds investment for any required technology and delivers cartridges when and where they are needed.
For his consumer customers, Darren has introduced Cartridge World Infinity. “For a fixed monthly payment from £9.99, we provide customers with a printer together with unlimited ink, so they can print as often and as much as they like. We also maintain it, so they never have to buy another printer again.”
A tailored version of Cartridge World Infinity has just been rolled out especially for Darren’s education customers. Dubbed ‘Infinity for Education’, the service provides educational establishments with wireless printers and unlimited ink for a fixed fee as little as £19.99 a month. Darren said: “I believe there is nothing else like this in the UK today. In the past, schools have found it difficult to access schemes like this, as they can only pay for services through being invoiced, not signing up to monthly subscriptions. This is where Infinity for Education is different, as it operates through an invoice system which works perfectly for schools.”
What the future looks like for Darren and his family
Darren now has three children and while he does work long hours, the difference between his last job and Cartridge World is that he is home every night and every morning helping to look after them.
For people thinking about joining Cartridge World, “While you still need to do your homework,” Darren says "you will succeed, if you have the right skill sets in sales and marketing, backed up with a strong work ethic. It's no good coming in to this thinking it will be easy - you need to work hard, as well as smart and the rewards will come.”
Darren’s franchise is now approaching its 150th Infinity customer and he hopes to reach a target of 2,000 contracted businesses. With a wider business goal of turning over between £2–5 million in the next 5 years, it is not only hard work but also a drive to succeed which makes him one of Cartridge World’s most ambitious and successful franchisees.