George Stewart from Apollo Blinds Hamilton has taken a big step closer to scooping the prestigious BFA HSBC 2010 Franchisee of the Year Award, supported by Express Newspapers.
He travelled down to London’s Canary Wharf to face a panel of judges from The British Franchise Association led by Sir Bernard Ingham and senior managers of HSBC and Express Newspapers.
The award is the jewel in the crown of franchising, and franchisees from every BFA member company from McDonalds down, had the opportunity to put forward franchisees that have done something particularly innovative to drive their businesses forward in these difficult trading times.
George told judges how he had doubled his turnover since February this year by embracing social media to develop a new testimonial driven sales strategy. He explained that he’s not completely comfortable with computers but he has persevered with it and has quickly reaped the results by using social media sites Facebook and Twitter, in conjunction with his own Apollo Blinds website.
The canny Scot explained that using social media is simple, easily transferable and, most importantly, free.
Apollo General Manager Gary Chambers, who also attended the panel interview, explained how George has become the vanguard of social media usage within Apollo Blinds and the rest of the network are now following suit.
We’re all keeping our fingers crossed for George. He will find out whether he’s scooped the title at a ceremony in Birmingham at the end of September.
We’re all fizzing with excitement at Apollo as our new TV adverts are now ready to air. You can be the first to see them here and here.
What do you think? Are you getting the Apollo magic?
They air from next month on the Home TV channel. We’ve chosen to advertise on Home (Sky 246 and Virgin Media 265) specifically because there’s lots of different programmes for people who love everything to do with improving their homes and gardens.
And with great offers on our breathtaking blinds we’re expecting to get a huge amount of enquires, particularly from people clicking onto www.apollosale.com to find their nearest Apollo Blinds.
Our strapline is that we make homes beautiful but now we can also lay claim to making Home TV beautiful as well with the Apollo magic.
We’ve just submitted an article towards the British Franchise Association’s new book the Franchise Bible which will hit the bookshelves later on this year.
Our article encapsulates who we are, what we look for in new franchisees joining our network and the different aspects of support they get to help their businesses get off to a flying start as part of a plan to make them a prosperous and profitable.
We’ve posted an extract of the article below
Apollo Blinds sells stunning blinds that make homes beautiful.
We’re at the forefront of the home improvement market which has consistently grown in both good times and bad because people have an overwhelming desire to make the most of their surroundings.
The UK window coverings industry is currently worth around £1.34 billion and this is set to rise to £1.48 billion by 2012 according to a recent AMA Research report.
The study found that 68% of homeowners buy made-to-measure blinds and that fashion is likely to remain the key driver for window coverings purchases in a market which is expected to grow by at least four per cent in each of the next two years .
All this bodes well for a company which is already Britain’s biggest blinds store chain and has ambitious plans to increase the size of its franchise network which already stands at more than 70 franchises in the UK and Ireland. And all this is backed by Apollo’s owners Hunter Douglas, which is the world’s largest manufacturer of window blinds.
What’s in it for you?
You’ll become part of a company which has more than 35 years’ franchising experience and a proven business model, market-leading products, a robust supply chain and an excellent support structure in place to enable committed and determined individuals to make a success of their franchise from day one.
Using an established and trusted brand we continually encourage our franchise owners to maximise every opportunity within their business. Through dedicated training and one-to-one support we cover everything from selling and fitting high value items with confidence to using smart marketing to keep your Apollo Blinds franchise at the forefront of consumers’ minds. This is all backed up by an astute programme of seasonal promotions to offer consumers just the right window blinds solutions, just when they need them – a great example is that we always have a promotion on blackout blinds when the nights draw out in spring.
All of the above is designed to help you make the most of your business – which is ultimately judged by the income generated, profits made and the value of your business when you eventually come to sell it on.
Making your Apollo business a success
We have a tried and trusted programme of training and support from day one which is designed to give new franchise owners the best possible start and show an early return on investment.
Launch a new franchise
Our dedicated sales and marketing expert works alongside new franchise owners to create a launch plan specifically for their area. It focuses on raising awareness and generating enquiries as quickly as possible by advertising across a variety of media including radio, newspapers, magazines and direct mail. It also harnesses the power of the Internet – especially social networking which has become increasingly important and influential.
Product and installation training
Having one of the UK’s most extensive collections of window blinds, awnings and plantation shutters may seem a little daunting at first but franchise owners soon become familiar with our collections. That familiarity soon helps them to identify exactly the right shading solution for any window in any house or commercial premises.
Practice makes perfect-fitting blinds and our installation specialist is with you every step of the way and for as long as you need until you can confidently fit everything from a roller blind in a single window to pleated blinds in the roof and sides of a conservatory. Oh, by the way, we have existing franchise owners who are specialists in particular products and share their knowledge with the rest of the network by running advanced training courses.
Sales, marketing and business training
We have honed a simple but effective process to demonstrate and sell our range of products. Following this process significantly improves sales conversion rates and our expert sales training will work alongside you until it becomes second nature.
Similarly, our marketing, design and PR team is at your disposal to help you manage local campaigns which focus on maintaining continued awareness of your brand and promotional offers to keep those enquiry levels high. Your local activity is also backed up nationally as Apollo promotes the brand to consumers across the UK.
But the single most important aspect of our mentoring programme is helping with the nuts and bolts of running a business. As little or as much help is on tap from the entire Apollo team on a whole range of issues related to running a successful business.
So that’s us. What about you?
In our experience we have found that the most successful franchise owners have one or more of the following key attributes needed to run a successful Apollo Blinds business:
You will be practical and good with people and have the drive, dedication and commitment to both us and our brand values. As a sales-oriented individual, you will be self-motivated and have a commitment to delivering exceptional customer service.
Having a creative flair is also advantageous because the ability to provide a consultative role in advising customers about which blinds will transform their homes and make them beautiful is vital.
Discover Apollo Blinds
If you like what you’ve seen so far and want to know more then just visit www.apolloblindsfranchise.co.uk. And if you want to take the next step you can also sign up to attend one of our Discovery Days that we host monthly where you can come and meet the team and see for yourself why we are an expanding franchise network in a growth industry.
We’ve launched a brand new website specifically for people who want to know more about owning their own Apollo Blinds franchise.
www.apolloblindsfranchise.co.uk is crammed full of information about what’s involved in running a franchise with Apollo Blinds. There are pages about the company, the brand, the marketplace and the different mobile and retail franchise business models.
We answer questions such as why franchise with Apollo, how much it costs and how much you can earn.
You can also find out how Apollo will help you run your business with details of the product & fitting training, sales training, marketing training and vital information of your induction and how we will launch your business.
But probably the best part of the new website for anyone thinking of becoming part of the Apollo Blinds network are a series of videos from exiting franchise owners who talk candidly about their experiences.
Have a look at it and tell us what you think.
The franchise owner for Lincoln has only been up running since May as a mobile sole trader but he is already thinking about taking on a fitter.
That’s because Dean Moore has spent most of this week fulfilling orders and installing blinds in customer’s houses – which is great news as he is obviously very busy. But he already recognises that while he’s fitting, he’s not selling.
Dean’s background is in sales and marketing and he, more than most, understands that devoting the lion’s share of his time to this is the right way to build a prosperous and profitable business.
As part of his training when he first joined Apollo Blinds, Dean became a skilled fitter and he is quickly getting to the fortunate position where he can take someone on to do the fitting, which will free him up to play to his strengths.
It’s a pattern we see time and again and definitely the right kind of headache to have for a new business.