A full house for Blueprints for Business

Last night’s Blueprints for Business: A proven route to success, the latest in our Inspiring Entrepreneurs series was a full house, including some very young aspiring entrepreneurs from BBC Dragon Peter Jones’ new National Skills Academy for Enterprise.

As in previous events the speakers provided some fascinating and inspiring insights into starting and running a succesful business. In this case the subject was franchising, an often neglected area of business opportunity for entrepreneurs. As several of the panellists pointed out, joining a franchise is probably the lowest risk route to starting your own business, as the product or service and brand has already been established.

Atul PathakAs Atul Pathak currently running 15 McDonald’s franchises put it; here was a business where the product and customers were delivered to the door for him. All he had to do was ensure he ran the restaurants efficiently and provided excellent customer service. The fact that he was required to spend nine months working in a McDonald’s branch covering every job, from cleaning the loos to cooking and serving burgers helped ensure he knew how to those things when it came to starting his first restaurant.

Atul divides his customers into two sets; internal and external. The internal customers are his staff, and the external customers are those who consume his restaurants products. He is also passionate about working with the local community, which he said was in line with the corporate McDonald’s ethos.

Sophie AtkinsonSophie Atkinson managing director of Autosmart, the car-cleaning firm that was crowned “Franchise of the Year” in 2008, was clear that the franchising route was the way to ensure stability and loyalty. Her franchisees remain committed to the business and often stay for ten or 15 years, compared to around 24 months for employees in sales roles.

Toni Mascolo Toni Mascolo OBE, the man behind Toni & Guy who starting with one salon in 1963, has built probably the world’s most successful high-street hairdresser brand using franchising. He doesn’t need to advertise for franchisees since almost all his applicants come from existing staff, or in the case of Japan the children of the original franchisees. For him the key to business success and surviving four recessions is love what you do and express that in your customer service. The fact that Toni still regularly cuts customers hair is testamant to his dedication and commitment.

Update:
Cmypitch.com have also written a review of the evening on their blog, Why franchising appears more attractive to both parties in a recession.

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