I'm a people person and thought, this is for me! The family were very worried when I started out. For the first year to year and a half it's really tough. But now I don't work the van on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday, although there is often something business related to do. It's a lot more family friendly and my wife sometimes helps me out.
The training is good - first I spent time with Mark Miller, the founder, on the phone. Mark want to be sure you can upsell yourself, you've got to be on the go all the time. And he asks for ideas from franchisees then head office will decide whether or not to take them up.
In the first two weeks of your franchise business two trainers show you how to do the paperwork and go on the run with you, show you how to canvas, to sell. Signing a contract, for instance, you don't want to make a mistake. They don't leave until they see you're comfortable and they give you a base of 60 or 70 customers.
Then a fortnight later you get more training to build up the business further. Help is always at hand and now I am a trainer I tell people they can ring me day or night.
And the business is not just about DVDs; we do equipment, even fridges and tvs on a rent-to-buy basis - we order the stock for the customer. We have a system of credit checking but a lot of people have got bad credit, they've had a bad run. Of course you have to have your wits about you, and if something sets your alarm bells ringing, you've got to be cautious. Sometimes I'll do something small for a customer, let them pay it off then look at a bigger item to rent.
It's up to the individual to decide whether to go with the client; we're spending our money buying the goods then they are paying us back, so it's our money we're gambling with. But I couldn't fault any of my customers - they all pay every month.
Customers can select DVDs from a folder in the van, but many of them trust me to choose for them - you get to know what they like, it's a very personal business - and you get to hear all their problems. I sell on my DVDs to get fresh stock and I buy ex-rental - that keeps costs down.
I find clients by canvassing door to door - we have a certain spiel. I know a lot about movies and movie trivia and I use this in my sales pitch. But there are more than 25,000 people in my area and I would never see most of them - if I got a second van I could do a split and spend more time doing the contracts so my next goal is to employ someone I can trust.
To do this job you really have to be able to talk and to match people's personalities - you're a different character with each customer. It's good to love your product and the business you're in, then you go forward. And the way Home Entertainment Express is run is perfect.
This article appears courtesy of Franchising Magazine.
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