Helen Nash: The Sweet Taste of Business Success

Industries 
Deliver snack boxes which support charities to a range of workplaces. These self-vending boxes earn money for you while you are out delivering yet more boxes and expanding your customer base.
Video

Oast House Farm Snacks

  Opportunities:
In the UK
  Business Type:
Franchise
  Minimum Investment:
£3,000
  Training Provided:
Yes
  Home-based:
Yes
  Part time:
Yes
  BFA Membership:
Member - Associate

“Everywhere I go, they know me as the Cake Lady!”

Helen Nash, Oast House Farm Snacks franchisee

When Helen Nash left a stressful job behind to take a job with charity snack box provider Oast House, little did she realise that it would lead to her running her own business… and earning herself a rather fetching nickname!

Helen ran a post office for eight years. She says: “I loved the job but the rewards weren’t enough for the responsibility, it was too much for very little back. I took a job in banking but I found it boring! So I started out with Oast House as an employee in March 2015.”

That was to prove just a stepping stone, with director Matt Simmonds franchising the charity snacks business just a few months later. Helen explains: “Matt kept telling me I was doing very well, and then mentioned about taking on a franchise. To be honest, I didn’t really understand what a franchisee was. We spoke about it, with my husband too, who said afterwards ‘I don’t know why you don’t just do it’. So I did!

“It was quite nerve-wracking. I realised I’d have to take on doing my own tax and accounts. But Matt and his team helped me so much – the support I’ve had has been brilliant and made such a difference when I started the business.”

And since then? “Business is going very, very, very well! I’m so pleased that I did it.”

So well in fact that Helen, who operates along the south coast from Worthing to Newhaven, is the top-performing Oast House franchisee.

Recipe for Success

So what’s been the secret to her growing turnover and profit? Helen says people skills are her biggest asset.

“I guess it’s my personality,” she says. “I’m chatty, I like to talk to people – in fact everywhere I go, they all know me as the Cake Lady!

“I get to know what people want, what they don’t want. People skills are very important. You can’t just drop in a box and then leave. I make a point of letting people know that I’m here so that they know that the box has been refilled and they’re ready to clear it out again!”

That approach has led to a focus on growing the number of snacks delivered to each customer. She explains: “The best thing is to increase the stock in a box. For example, I go to a business in Eastbourne, and started off with 18 cakes; we’ve increased repeatedly and now I leave over 50. I even get asked things like ‘Can you leave me at least 5 Eccles cakes?’ Of course I can! Sometimes before I’ve even driven off people have bought more than one.”

When it comes to gaining new customers, Helen says the right attitude is crucial. “I generally go to businesses with a manned reception, it’s much easier. You introduce yourself, take in a box and see how it goes. If it’s a flat no then that’s OK, you’ve just got to expect some of those and not let it get you down.”

A Balanced Diet

When it comes to the all-important work/life balance, Helen says: “This business is so adaptable. I leave at about 7am and do 30 or so pick-ups a day, and I’m back home for 2pm or so. I still have to restock my car on a daily basis and I have to do banking and put my figures into the computer – but because it’s your own business, you don’t mind doing it!

“My franchise is giving me what I wanted and expected, and much more. I thoroughly enjoy it. I love going out to all the different places and chatting with people. You don’t get that kind of variety in a lot of roles.”

As for the future potential, Helen adds: “There’s so much opportunity out there that you drive past every day. I think to myself ‘I wonder if they’ve got a box?’ As long as I have enough stock and enough time, I’ll call in.”

Asked for her top three tips for those looking to emulate her success, Helen is clear.

“You have to be very, very organised; you have to be motivated to get out and do the best you can; and you must be prepared to work hard. If you do, my results show that the rewards are there for you. And I know a thing or two about working hard without enjoying the rewards!”

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