Blazes: Supporting its franchisees

Husband and wife Graham and Pam Bastow have been running the Blazes store in Wakefield for almost 3 years and cannot speak highly enough of the fireplace retail franchisor.

Business: fireplace and central heating retail

Average Franchise Turnover: £200,000 in the first year

Set-up costs/investment: £15,000 minimum

Pam describes the experience as “very hard work but very rewarding”. She highly recommends Blazes because of its high level of ongoing support, which includes “fantastic training” in technical know-how, staff management and financial accounting, as well as the provision of all necessary paperwork, such as contracts and stationery.

In addition, Blazes arranged and paid for a local radio advertising campaign for all franchisees, which Pam says brought almost instant results and was something they would never have been able to afford on their own.

It is this level of support that caused the couple to choose a franchise over buying a business on their own or starting up for themselves. According to Pam, they value the support “in every aspect in order to make a profit in the shortest possible time” and, as they had no experience in the business, it was “the best way to learn without making mistakes – far less risky than running our own business.”

They can speak with authority, having previously run a franchise for Dynarod prior to taking over the Wakefield Blazes store. However, that relationship ended when Pam and Graham felt they were not getting an adequate level of support.

Pam believes a good franchisee must possess a “jigsaw of qualities”, which should include having “the correct personality”, particularly for a retail outlet where “the right attitude towards providing good customer service” is essential. “You have to go over the top in the way you help people,” she states.

Other parts of the jigsaw are having a good eye for design to be able to present products in a way that will help them “sell themselves”; being a “mini-accountant in order to look after the finances; being able to manage staff; and finally, being able to “judge the market” and know what will sell in your local area.

To anyone thinking of buying a franchise, Pam advocates choosing an established and experienced franchise with a proven track record. She also strongly advises checking out the existing franchisees – either by calling them, or even better, by visiting them in person to see exactly how the operation is run.

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