David & Emma Shulman are getting their lives back in balance with their Riverford Organic franchise in West & Central Hertfordshire.
Husband & Wife team, David & Emma Shulman decided to run a business in a sector they were passionate about, following a career working in global telecoms. Already customers of Riverford’s, they decided to change career path when their local franchise became available.
We had both been in the corporate world since we left University and whilst we both had great experiences, learned many new skills & had really enjoyed what we had done, we knew it was not going to be something that we wanted to do forever.
We had long thought about starting our own business, and whilst we had some ideas, we were concerned about the risks we might need to take to transition us both fully out of being employed.
As massive advocates of ethical and sustainable living, we were already customers of Riverford and our veg man told us that he was retiring and would be selling the business. Knowing what we did about Guy and the quality of the produce, we decided to have a look at the opportunity of running a Riverford franchise. We thought this would give us both the ‘own’ business feel but with shared risk, also we would be working as part of a bigger organisation that we felt our values aligned with.
We both worked in corporate global telecoms in a variety of differing roles. We share skills in sales, marketing, commercial, contracts & customer experience.
We were fortunate to be able to fund the franchise from savings we held.
We received an enormous amount of support both from Riverford and from other franchisees. Initially we were introduced to other franchisees to understand how they run their businesses, these continued into relationships that we have nurtured where we have now been able to support each other and share ideas. Riverford also provide a comprehensive training and support package, which was useful in learning everything about how Riverford runs its business as well as meeting the people we would later interact with on the farm. We spent a week understanding everything from how the veg is grown and sourced, through systems and procedures all the way to how we receive the produce ahead of local deliveries. We spent a significant amount of time with the previous franchisee understanding how things were run locally, this was also a critical factor in being able to understand what we would be doing on a day to day basis. We have built great relationships with the team at the farm and call on them as we need support, which is always forthcoming.
The days are very varied, but there are some regular items that we do each day, such as checking delivery volumes forecasted & preparing information for the drivers for the next day’s deliveries, organising any van maintenance and planning driver cover. There is marketing planning to do to look at how we are going to grow the business, which may include updating social media, researching and booking in face to face activities & calling customers to drive retention. On an ongoing basis throughout the day we speak to customers as they call, respond to emails and manage the necessary admin in the office as required.
Initially the deliveries were a bit of a shock, having not done anything like that before, we needed to get our heads around the many different routes, how to load vans efficiently and how to reduce our own error rate on the doorstep. This settled down quite quickly. It also goes without saying that this job is very different to sitting behind a desk and can be quite physically demanding.
Absolutely, we have managed to get our lives back in balance. It is hard work running your own business, but the benefits always outweigh the drawbacks. We are so passionate about the produce and living both sustainably and ethically, we are now able to not only manage that better for ourselves and our young family, but have become local advocates for it through a genuine company, which is very fulfilling and rewarding.
We have carried out a number of activities such as promoting veg funds, veg masterclasses, through social media & by advertising locally. The biggest success factor however has been local face to face activities. This has enabled us to really grow the business and to get the brand out across the region. We have much more to do to continue this, but we have found this to be the best tool to hit our growth aspirations.
We are a friendly, family orientated, local, reliable delivery service. We are customer focussed, acting quickly where there are issues and always put them right. We only ask our staff to do what we would be prepared to do ourselves and we are exceptionally passionate about our produce.
A clear business plan, great communication and doing the right thing by customers, the farm & staff. Demonstrating determined effort and enjoying yourself along the way.
Look hard at the territory, both in terms of demographic, competitors, current customers and where the opportunity lies. Look closely at how the business is run now, what you think it will require in-order to be able to turn it into something that meets your aspirations. Carry out lots of due diligence on how the current operation runs, ask loads of questions and make sure you get an idea of the deliveries and routes a long time in advance.
We want to maintain steady growth working with Riverford for the foreseeable future, we continue to test new ideas and make refinements that help us keep on top of things.
Yes, without question.
Tim and Jacqui Rix Run Their Riverford Organic Business in South Buckinghamshire
22nd May 2017
Tim and Jacqui Rix bought their Riverford Organic franchise in South Buckinghamshire in 2011 and haven’t looked back.
A successful relocation for Matthew & Sabrina Carter
25th October 2016
Matthew & Sabrina Carter purchased the Hereford & Worcester Riverford Home Delivery franchise in September 2015.
Riverford welcome their latest franchisee
3rd August 2016
Nick Kington is the latest franchisee to join Riverford’s network of veg box delivery teams.
Jim & Anna Harbridge run their Riverford Organic franchise in Portsmouth
24th June 2016
Jim Harbridge talks about why he and his wife Anna chose a Riverford franchise and what his daily life as a Riverford franchisee entails.
Gareth and Gill Rossiter are Flying High with Riverford
22nd July 2015
Gareth and Gill Rossiter talk about their trajectory from a world of jets and planes to running their own Riverford Organic veg box...
David & Josie Yems run their Riverford Organic business in Royal Tunbridge Wells
23rd April 2015
David & Josie Yems talks to us about why they started their Riverford Organic business and the day to day running of the business.
A year on with Iain and Liz Pocklington
5th March 2015
Iain and Liz Pocklington own a Riverford Home delivery business covering Darlington & the Dales.
James Negus Went Back to his Roots with Riverford Organic
13th October 2014
James Negus took over Riverford Organic in Bury St Edmunds 4 years ago and during this time he has turned the business around, increasing...
8th February 2018
Continued Growth for Organic Market and Riverford