Interview with Daryl Perkins of Card Connection, Nottingham


Franchisee: Daryl Perkins
Territory: Nottingham
Franchise: : Card Connection

Tell us about your experience launching your Card Connection franchise

It’s now almost two years since I joined Card Connection as a franchisee. Starting up was a big step and I honestly didn’t know how it would turn out. Although the company had a great reputation and I was aware of their clever business model through a franchisee who supplied the Budgens store where I worked for six years, it was still a leap of faith!

At the tender age of 24, I bought the Nottingham franchise from the outgoing franchisee who retired in 2013. I now supply products from Card Connection’s extensive range of more than 1,200 quality greeting cards and accessories to 150 retailers. Amazingly, I now have the fastest growing franchise in the network!

What challenges have you faced?

The greatest challenge when it came to starting up – particularly given my age – was securing the funds to buy the franchise. In the first instance, I contacted my own bank for advice; I just needed an ‘is this possible?’ conversation. They were not particularly helpful! So then I went to a bank with a specialist franchising department and spoke to their relationship manager.

We discussed some outline figures over the phone and he advised me that I needed to produce a simple business plan and a cash-flow which showed my estimated income and outgoings including the repayment of a loan to buy the business. The plan also needed to show the last three years’ trading accounts for the previous franchisee, which Card Connection was able to supply.

There was further clarification needed, a few more conversations and an interview but the bank approved a loan which covered 70% on the purchase of the franchise, paid back over a five year term. I needed to come up with the other 30% myself. This loan was backed by a Government guarantee scheme which is a bit like an insurance policy and guarantees to repay 75% of my loan should something go wrong. This scheme was critical to enable the bank to agree the loan. The process from initial enquiry to starting work was around six months.

The British Franchise Association lists five banks which have specialised franchising support: HSBC, Lloyds, Metro, Natwest and RBS.

How have you built up your Card Connection franchise since the launch?

With initial hurdles out of the way, I began to get to know and build my franchised business. I use Card Connection’s award winning system which means I place greeting cards in retail outlets on a ‘consignment’ basis. This is one step beyond ‘sale or return’ as Card Connection’s retail customers don’t have to buy the stock initially; they only pay for what they sell. Display equipment is also free on loan to the retailer, minimising retailers’ costs and maximising their profits. Most days are spent delivering and merchandising, meeting customers and packing stock for deliveries. No two days are ever the same!

What advice would you give those who are looking to buy a franchise?

As one of the youngest franchisees in the industry, it is hard for me to share the fruits of my experience with others who have been around for many more years than me! However, if I had to give advice to someone looking at franchising I would say: beware of cheap franchises as they are cheap for a reason! Go for the market leading franchise in your chosen sector. The product or service needs to be excellent – it should really ‘sell itself’. Also, look carefully into the company’s financial background to make sure it is secure. Lastly, when you go for an interview, remember you are interviewing the franchisor too!

If you are a young entrepreneur looking at franchising, you will not have years of experience on your side. However, make up for it enthusiasm and a fresh, determined approach and with the right training and franchisor support you will succeed. My hard work, customer focus and attention to detail is paying off and I have recently been put forward for a British Franchise Association Award for the best young franchisee of the year!

About Card Connection

Market leader in the UK for the franchised distribution of greeting cards, established in 1992 & a full member of the BFA since 1995, Card Connection and its network of 68 franchisees distribute cards & accessories to around 13,000 retail outlets. Card Connection is part of UK Greetings Ltd, a subsidiary of American Greetings Inc., one of the largest greeting card publishers in the world.



Card Connection franchisees are fit for franchising

 

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Leading greeting card publisher and franchisor, Card Connection has today announced that its franchisees for Sunderland and Durham, Andy and Vicki Thompson, are ‘fit for franchising’! The couple who joined Card Connection in 2004, became one of Card Connection’s first Platinum franchisees – this means they run one of our largest franchises and supply more than 300 retailers with Card Connection’s extensive range of quality greeting cards and accessories.

Vicki Thompson explains: “”I took up running when we started the franchise. I now train, running about 20 miles a week with my local club: Jarrow & Hebburn AC. This year I’ve competed at the National Cross Country Championships in London, as well as the Northern Cross Country in Pontefract, Northern Women’s Relays in Liverpool and the British Masters Cross Country in Wales. Although being a Card Connection franchisee is not hugely demanding physically, exercise keeps me mentally fit. It’s like ‘wind-down’ time after work. But it can be helpful if I need to move boxes in the warehouse too!

“When we acquired the franchise we ran it from an upstairs bedroom in our house,” explains Ex Royal Navy Petty Officer, Andy. “We now turnover five times the sum we did when we started out and now work from our 1000 square foot warehouse on Tyneside. We have grown the franchise from around 110 retail accounts to over 300 retail outlets during that time.

“However finding some work-life balance is important,” continues Andy. “I don’t run but I’m a regular golfer! Vicki plays too and it’s good to get time away from the business occasionally. It means we can stay enthusiastic and as a result, the franchise figures continue to look good. We are around 3% up on last year which is a solid performance in a mature and established market like ours.”
“Vicki and Andy’s achievements over the years as franchisees continue to be impressive,” confirms Michael Johnson, managing director, Card Connection. “Finding time to keep fit and active ensures they are always ready for business and have been both great contributors and an inspiration to our whole network over the past decade.”

Card Connection franchisees supply greeting cards and accessories in retail outlets on a ‘consignment’ basis, also supplying the display equipment free on loan if appropriate, minimising the retailers’ costs and maximising their profits. This is one step beyond ‘sale or return’ as retail customers don’t have to buy the stock initially; they only pay for what they sell. Card Connection’s award winning merchandising service provided to retailers has proved popular all over the UK and Ireland, giving franchisees an advantage over competitors.

Card Connection is one of the UK’s largest card publishers and is the market leader in the franchised distribution of greeting cards. The business’ unique model of consignment sales has resulted in a strong brand and established reputation which has been proven over many years. Through its franchisees Card Connection supplies around 12,000 retailers throughout the UK.

Card Connection is part of UK Greetings, which is a subsidiary of American Greetings Inc., one of the largest greeting card publishers in the world and has limited vacancies for franchisees that are keen to run an expanding business. Since the franchise network in the UK is complete, the available opportunities now consist of acquiring an already-established territory from an existing franchisee. These vary in price according to their level of development, but start at £7k + Stock + Card Connection fee with earnings potential in excess of £50k per annum.