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Description: Card Connection is the UK's No 1 greeting card franchise, servicing over 15,000 outlets in Britain and Ireland. Opportunities: Re-sale franchises now available in the UK. Export opportunities elsewhere. Business Type: Franchise. Minimum Investment: £40,000. Training Provided: Yes. Home-based: Yes.

Business Expansion is on the Cards

In 2002 Pat Blake was working as a transport manager for Pizza Express in Uxbridge. However, after three years, the gruelling commute to and from Dublin each week finally led him to look for a different career. It was at this point he discovered Card Connection.

Since start-up, Pat Blake’s Card Connection greeting card franchise has gone from strength-to-strength. Earlier this year he was able to purchase a further neighbouring Card Connection territory in order to double the size and profit of his growing business.

Pat now employs two merchandisers to distribute the greetings cards and gifts to retail outlets in North and South Dublin and Kildare. A further two packers assist the merchandisers prepare for delivery and a part time book keeper works on the accounts. In addition, Pat has just hired someone to focus on new business development to grow the number of outlets that Pat and his team can supply.

He puts his success down to his: “ability to always be thinking ahead and looking for new ways to develop his business.” To a large extent this was a skill he developed in his previous role as a transport manager, managing a team of staff making between 300-400 wholesale product deliveries per week. However, Pat says: “The difference with the Card Connection franchise is that I am directly rewarded for all the effort I put in, because it’s my business.

“Although I had previous management experience, I had limited knowledge of sales so the quality of the product has also been key to my success,” Pat explains. “Card Connection offers a superb selection of high quality greeting cards with designs regularly being updated from an in-house studio as well as hundreds of freelancers. This means that the range is always fresh and is well received by retailers and consumers alike. The recently introduced Card Connection gift line also offers new opportunities and will ensure a further growth area for the business.”

The North Dublin franchise that Pat bought, funded through loans and property investment, was a new territory and a business, which he had to develop himself from scratch. “Initially I found it challenging,” he says. “However, the training and support I received from Card Connection helped me immensely.”

For Pat, the best part of the job is being in control of his own destiny. “I love the fact that I have full control over every aspect of the business and that the direction it takes is down to me. Working for myself means that my hard work is always rewarded, making it totally worthwhile.

“If I was to offer advice to someone who is thinking about buying a franchise it would be to choose a reputable franchisor that will provide you with the help and support you will need to grow your business. I would always recommend one that is a member of the British Franchise Association (BFA). Card Connection is a full member of both the BFA and the Irish Franchise Association so I know the company is bound to adhere to the best practices laid down in the BFA “Ethics to Franchising” guide which is really important.

“In addition, I would recommend looking into the finances carefully and choosing a franchise with potential to grow. No business can stand still so you will always need to think about the future, considering ways to expand your business. In this way, you will always be one step ahead of the competition and have fun at the same time.”

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