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Guest Blog: Getting into the Black

This week's guest blog post is  by Andrew Cutler, Sales & Franchise Director, Card Connection.

Andrew CutlerGetting your new franchise business – in financial terms - from ‘in the red’ to “in the ‘black’ as quickly as possible must be the aim of every new franchisee.

If you are moving from a regular monthly salary to self employed status through owning a franchise, then getting your new business venture into profit as rapidly as possible is essential for a successful long term outlook.  The challenge is that when you start out there will be an inevitable leaning curve while you get up and running.  So how can you best prepare?

Buying a re-sale franchise is the best way to ensure you will earn money from day one as you will be inheriting customers from the outset which is a great starting point.  Selecting a well known brand with a good reputation will also mean that a large degree of the time consuming marketing effort will have already been done for you, so you can focus on selling to those existing and loyal customers.

Find out if your prospective franchisor has a national account network which will provide you with leads. This can be a great help at the start.  Card Connection’s national account network, which includes retailers such as Costcutter, Londis, Netto, Budgens, Spar and Haldanes for example, offers an opportunity for our franchisees to begin selling to these retailers immediately.

It is also important to choose a franchise with products or services that are popular and almost ‘sell themselves’.  Quality products will always be valued and in demand, so are important for gaining new business and repeat custom.  Question if you would buy the product you are looking at selling on a regular basis?  Card Connection, for example, has more than 1,200 quality greeting card designs distributed in over 16,000 retail outlets across the UK and Ireland, which ensure customers keep coming back for more.

Early focus on building customer relationships is important.  You will be the new person and so you need to create trust and show your client base you are reliable and offer a service which is as good (or better!) than the last franchisee.  Make sure that there is support from the franchisor during the handover process.  Work closely with the outgoing franchisee to meet customers and ensure accounts are all aware of the impending change of ownership, and how well you plan to look after them.  This will make for as smooth a handover as possible.

As well as getting up to speed with existing accounts you will need to devote a proportion of your time to generating new business.  When you start off this will be challenging as you will be less familiar with the product or service than an experienced franchisee.  However, the good news is that you will come to the franchise with a ‘fresh set of eyes’ and so may spot opportunities that have been overlooked in the past.  Use your enthusiasm to your advantage to generate interest in your offering!  Remember, people buy from people.

Finally look to your franchisor for support in the early days.  Take advantage of training and talk to other franchisees to see how they overcome every day challenges.  One of the main advantages of franchising compared with setting up in business alone is that you have the backup of a successful and experienced team behind you so be sure to call on them for help when you need it.

Franchising is an ever increasingly popular way to enjoy the flexibility of self employment.  However, to ensure your franchise starts to be profitable as early as possible, you need to prepare.  Choose a good and reputable re-sale franchise and take advantage of the support that is offered to you.  Be quick to build relationships with existing customers and let your enthusiasm help create new business opportunities in the marketplace, and this will help you move from the red into the black as quickly as possible.

For further information about Card Connection re-sale franchises, visit Card Connection's franchise profile on Franchise Direct.

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