Neil Saunders talks about starting his MACC UK franchise in Chichester, West Sussex. Neil chose MACC UK because he truly believed that the products they manufacture are of a very high quality.
Franchisee interview with Neil Saunders from MACC UK in Chichester, West Sussex:
I worked as an Area Manager with BP Oil UK Ltd and managed an estate of retail forecourts with both direct employed managers and more latterly franchisees. The role involved me ensuring that sales targets were achieved whilst working within operating guidelines to ensure both a uniformed offer and to ensure that full compliance was met for both HSSE and legislation requirements. Having worked in a number of positions within the organisation for around 20 years, the opportunity arose for me to take redundancy and begin a new challenge.
After working in a corporate environment for so long, I wanted the opportunity to work for myself but within a model that offered quality whilst maintaining a lower key management structure.
I wanted to be the key to the success of MACC in my area and to make the decisions accordingly.
I chose MACC because I truly believed that the products they manufactured were of a very high quality and the way in which they explained the business model to me. The invitation to the factory in France to meet the senior management team displayed to me that the company genuinely wanted, and needed, me to succeed and was as important to them as it was to me. I was treated very well and was given the opportunity to meet the entire office staff and was welcomed as a valuable member of the MACC team.
I made them decision to raise half the finance through savings and the funds required for the van through a bank loan.
Before I even went to France to meet the office team, I took a day out with one of the direct employed MACC salesmen who talked to me about the position and who allowed me to have open and honest conversations with the customers.
Once I had bought the franchise, I spent a week in France with the Franchise Manager on a very structured training package where I went through a thorough introduction to the equipment MACC manufactured along with time spent with each supporting department to the sales operation. The office structure was geared to ensure that the MACC franchisee was given whatever they needed to allow them to focus on selling.
Following the week in France, I had a further 2 weeks in my own area with the Franchise Manager who worked alongside of me to demonstrate the MACC approach to operating and to build my own confidence in being able to operate on my own whilst making sales!. The 3rd week I spent on my own selling to my customers with regular contact with the Franchise Manager who then joined me again in my area the week after that. I then spent a further week on my own before another week with the Franchise Manager. Outside of the regular visits with the Franchise Manager, the other MACC agents would also keep in touch who were fantastic in offering assistance as and when I needed it.
A typical day for a franchisee would start the day before with preparing a plan of the customers and potential customers in the postcodes you are going to operate in. This would require telephone calls to arrange appointments along with a very clear understanding of the route you would be taking to maximise your time spent with customers whilst keeping your travel costs down. In some cases, you may be able to plan what products you may want to demonstrate to existing customers. By preparing ahead, it leaves you able to consider what you may want to demonstrate to the customer and perhaps any products you are looking to focus on for that period. Ultimately, it’s your business so you can plan what and how you do things but that’s the whole point of a franchise……it’s a model that already works so your investment is safer than starting a business from scratch.
With all sales roles, you can face a day or days when you only get a “No”. Every customer is a new opportunity so you must meet that new customer as if it’s the first one of the day and be positive. You are on a steep learning curve so you may make mistakes. That’s OK as everyone does, but as long as you take learnings from it and review what you did and what you “could have done” then you have been successful. Other colleagues are also around to help, so just call them.
Don’t beat yourself up over a lost sale or because someone does not want to meet you. Next time you cover the area, they probably will, it’s not personal.
I wanted to be entirely responsible for what I did and when I did it so in that respect having a franchise has delivered that. I find that I put more energy into the hours I spend at work and am more critical about the time I spend being non-productive. I think about what I would do next time and look for new ways of finding customers. I’m happier knowing that I have more control over what I’m doing and when I do it.
Do your homework and ensure you really know your business plan and what is required to meet the plan. Is it realistic and achievable? Try to get to the nitty gritty of the average day and ensure that is something you can do. Remember that the early days of a business are the hardest and that everyone goes through that, not just you.
To continue to operate by business and grow it as much as I can and not to try to run before I can walk. I’m very much in my early days of the business so I’m working hard.
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