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From fishing to Card Connection franchise

Why I Chose Franchising

 

When Andrew Orr was 16 he stood on the peer at Hopeman, Scotland and the skipper of a new boat that was being built asked if he would like to be an apprentice. At that time, all he knew was that he wanted to be a deep-sea fisherman. And that’s what he was until he took on a Card Connection franchise many years later.

"When I was on the boats all I thought about was fishing," Andrew recalls. "At one point I was on the last sea-net fishing boat to come out of Aberdeen, when we first set sail there were still paint pots on the deck. I loved it but it was incredibly hard work. We used to work nine day shifts with just one and half days off before we headed out to sea once more.

"The problem was that the fishing industry was suffering," confirms Andrew. "In our village there used to be 30 boats and this had dwindled to just five over the years. It was getting harder to make a living and this was why I knew had to consider something else."

Andrew's uncle was a Card Connection franchisee at the time in Edinburgh and he suggested that Andrew should look at running his own franchise in the Aberdeen/Inverness area as a viable option. Andrew sent off for the information pack seven years ago and hasn't looked back since.

How I Raised The Finance

"When my uncle introduced me to Card Connection, to be honest I didn't really look around at any other franchises. I knew my uncle did well and after I had read through all the information the company had sent me I knew I could do it," Andrew continues.

"The finance for the purchase of the franchise was raised from a combination of a re-mortgage with the help of the Royal Bank of Scotland and then the rest from a loan from relatives."

The Training And Support I Receive From My Franchisor

Andrew received full training and support from Card Connection from day one. "The only area I was really experienced in was the hard work," he jokes. “Being a fisherman certainly prepares you for that!" All the other aspects of running a business were learnt through Card Connection’s training and on the job.

"The challenges that you face as a new business are many and that is where it is useful to have the backup of your franchisor. Card Connection has been a significant element in helping me drive my business forward and making it grow over the years.

The Challenge I Have Faced

"In fact the main challenge I have faced with the franchise business is the speed that it has grown," explains Andrew. "At the start I thought it could be a small business where I would simply visit local retail outlets to provide them with greetings cards, and then merchandise stock on a regular basis. However, with the decline of the smaller retailers and Card Connections relationships with the major groups it means I am now frequently visiting many of the larger outlets like Sainsbury’s Local, Somerfield, Budgens, Londis, Spar and Shell. Although I sell more product these customers can be more demanding!"

My Advice To Someone Thinking Of Buying Their First Franchise

Andrew says:"if you are considering franchising then you must choose a British Franchise Association (BFA) member, it means they are bound to adhere to the best practices laid down in the BFA "Ethics to Franchising" guide which is really important.

"Secondly, remember you will need a good product. Card Connection has a fantastic range of greetings cards which are always in demand so I am lucky and don’t really have to sell at all. This will make your job much easier.

“The third point - at least if you are considering joining Card Connection - is expect the franchise to grow from the start and be prepared for this. It may involve taking on some part-time staff to help you even early on."

My Plans For The Future

"Over the years, my Card Connection franchise has increased in size and it is likely to continue to do so. Therefore, I am now considering taking on additional staff to look after specific parts of the business and perhaps even a whole area of the territory."

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