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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.

Happy Endings…

Martin SweeneyEach year, almost half a million people in the UK start their own businesses and with its reduced risk, franchising has become particularly popular.

Card Connection franchisee, Martin Sweeney, used to manage a sales team for a major toy distributor, however, he had become disenchanted with his career.  Although he did not mind the long hours and hard work, he felt he was not being fully rewarded for the level of responsibility and effort he put in.  He decided to take action and began to look at his options.  “Franchising appealed because it provides the opportunity to start your own business using a proven business model,” confirms Martin.  “In addition, the franchisor provides all the necessary training and support to ensure the business gets off to a good start.”

Martin initially selected several companies in the greeting card sector for further research.   “However, Card Connection stood out as the most professional by far.  Following my first conversation with the franchise contact, I received all the information about the franchise promptly in the post the next day,” confirms Martin.  “When I visited the head office the staff were all knowledgeable, friendly and helpful – I was really impressed.”

That was in 2005.  Several years later, Martin now runs the Card Connection Wakefield territory distributing quality greeting cards to retail outlets throughout the region.  Using a proven system, Martin, like the other Card Connection franchisees, places greeting card ranges in retail outlets on a ‘consignment’ basis.  This means the stock and display equipment is installed on free loan to the retailer. 

This is one step beyond ‘sale or return’ as Card Connection customers never have to buy the stock in the first place, only paying for what they sell. Customers include convenience stores, sub post offices, petrol station forecourts and staff restaurants in large offices in addition to numerous national accounts, which include the likes of Welcome Break, Somerfield, Budgens, Londis, Spar and Shell.

Over the years Martin has significantly developed his business.  He now employs a part-time card packer and his partner Gill helps him with the paperwork.  He has become such a successful Card Connection franchisee that he has recently been able to purchase the neighbouring territory of Stockport, increasing the size of his franchise business substantially. 

“The plan is that Gill will now be able to spend more time working on the franchise, helping me grow the business further,” he continues.  “Long-term, I also expect to take on someone to help me prospect for new retail clients.

“The great part about running the franchise is that the more effort I put in the more I am rewarded both financially and through the satisfaction of running a more successful business,” Martin explains.  “I also like the freedom of being my own boss.  I get to use my management skills to the full, setting my own targets and making plans.  Owning a business also means I am building an asset for the future.  You simply don’t get these benefits being an employee.

“Card Connection is also very supportive as a franchisor and is continually looking at new ways to help franchisees grow their businesses.  For example the company is currently in the process of rolling out new electronic hand-held terminals which allow stock levels to be calculated automatically on-site – for all its franchisees.  Because all stock movements are recorded automatically, a significant amount of time previously spent on admin is now saved.”

A change in career has brought Martin the job satisfaction he never had as an employee.  With the continued growth of the franchise, and his partner Gill now becoming more involved in the business, it really is a tale which has a happy ending.

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