NAME(S): Mark and Debbie Greening JOINED PPP: May...
Becoming self-employed is a huge leap of faith! It may seem like you have a mountain to climb to achieve your goal, however, if you become a franchisee, the good news is you are not alone. As well as full training and help with set up every step of the way, your franchisor will provide you with all the support you need to get started.
I have been a regional sales manager leading greeting card publisher and franchisor, Card Connection for 9 years now and my role, along with five colleagues based around the UK, is to help the company’s whole network of franchisees succeed in their individual businesses. I personally look after 15 franchisees based above and below the M62 corridor – over the years you get to know them pretty well! Some have been franchisees since before I joined Card Connection so I work with them to help them keep motivated and keep their energy focused and franchises moving forward. This may be by sharing new ideas, helping them open new accounts or gain efficiencies from streamlining the way they work.
We usually get one or two franchisees joining my area every year – usually due to retirement of the outgoing franchisee - and they need help with training, hand over and getting settled into the role. I might spend the day working with the franchisee to set up their stock room or on the road, merchandising stock in a retail store or helping them open new accounts. All the time we are on the look-out to grow the greeting card selections in-store with more stock and better displays. In this way, focus is on developing sales for the franchisee, retail customer and of course this benefits Card Connection too. We all have the same aim and I like that.
I come from a sales background so one of the areas I gain most satisfaction from is helping franchisees acquire new retail accounts. There is never a hard sell, it is more a case of explaining how our award winning system works. We explain how retail managers only pay for what they sell while we supply and prepare all the card displays and merchandise them regularly. Then once they’ve seen some examples of our quality designs, they are usually pretty receptive!
The other important aspect of my role is to look after a portfolio of National Accounts. Most of these are regionally based retailers with around 15-20 stores. I visit regularly with the buyers on behalf of the whole network of franchisees to ensure we meet their specific needs and let them know about new ranges and other initiatives we have to support sales across their stores.
Some of the highlights in the calendar year are the regional franchisee meetings where we get together to share best practice and the annual franchisee conference. The conference is a chance for the whole network of franchisees to meet up and get company updates but also socialise and have great fun at the same time!
That work-life balance is important. At the end of the day I like to go down the gym or go rock climbing in the peak district. It’s a different kind of mountain to climb compared with becoming self-employed, but is a good reminder all hurdles can be overcome with a little help and support!