Are you buying a business or a brand? – Sally Anne Butters writes for Making Money Magazine, January 2012

A brand is so much more than just a name and logo, for many people it’s a personality, a feeling that they get whenever they come across, purchase or interact with that company, product or service. That is why a strong brand is essential for anyone buying a franchise; any new business is a risk but the comfort of knowing what you are really getting into will set aside some of those start-up nerves.

Ask your Franchisor about how they manage their brand; all franchise opportunities should have brand guidelines to help with promotional literature, point of sale displays and so on but it is important that there is at least one person at head office assigned as a Brand Guardian.

In the best businesses, you can go to any branch of the company and get the same positive experience and this is where the brand buy-in is so strong that there isn’t just one Brand Guardian but every single member of staff takes on this role. This is so comforting to a prospective franchisee that it can prompt a decision to purchase and David Baker who purchased Driver Hire Kingston couldn’t agree more:

“Driver Hire seemed to be a rock steady brand and a well-established big business and that really gave me confidence. I also liked the idea of buying a business that was already up and running and part of network of around 100 offices. Everyone in the head office team was really enthusiastic and from this point on, Driver Hire were the only franchise in the running.”

Franchising gives companies the option to build their brand on a global level. Franchises such as The Athena Network, Cafe2U and FASTSIGNS are all global leaders in their marketplace. The Athena Network launched in Singapore this year after a strong few years in the UK whilst Cafe2U’s successful 10 years in Australia and 5 years in the UK prompted a launch in the USA this Summer as Australia’s Cafe2U MD, Derek Black explains:

“Consumers have been very welcoming of the mobile Cafe2U concept with one of our new American customers quoting: It’s even better than Starbucks!”

There is no doubt that Starbucks is a hugely successful and recognisable brand across the globe so how does a mobile coffee franchise like Cafe2U compete? They set themselves apart and make themselves memorable with brand differentiators – new locations, barista qualities, and an airhorn on their van playing the tune from the Godfather!

So what should you be looking for in a franchise when it comes to buying a brand that is well-established and support you to success or a younger franchise that has the potential to develop into a strong brand?

No.1 on your list is that you must be able to 100% agree with and emanate the company’s brand and ethos and the best way that you can get a feel for this is to spend some time with other franchisees and the head office team; a great way to do this is on a discovery day if the franchisor offers these.

Brands are also built on trust and just as a business’s customers need to trust them, so must someone buying a franchise. Trust fosters loyalty and a franchisor should always be open, communicative and ready to provide the information you require; being transparent starts off a strong relationship and will bring the right franchisees into the business which means you get off to the best start with your franchise and your franchisor.

In general, consumers value brands more than they are influenced by price because of the trust they have in the quality or standard of service so you should consider what is offered by the franchise opportunities that you are looking at in terms of their products and/or services. You can easily find out what their consumers think by searching online for Facebook pages, conversations on blogs or on trade websites.

Consumers are risk-averse and, of course, franchise searchers are too! Consumers will look for recommendations from friends, work colleagues or even strangers online before engaging with a new brand and you should do the same when researching a franchise purchase. There are also experts such as MatchPoint who can help match you to a franchise brand that most suits your skills and attributes if you want a free helping hand.

Finally, it is really important that you choose a brand that is ready to innovate as the marketplace changes and new technology comes along. Not all franchises will suit internet sales but all will benefit from an online presence for communicating with potential customers. Some will naturally have new product lines constantly in development like Mac Tools and others will have occasional updates as new design software makes work processes easier like the printing process at a FASTSIGNS franchise. What is imperative is that a franchisor can demonstrate to you that they have the flexibility to adapt and the skills to innovate to keep the business fresh, the turnover growing and the brand strong.


Driver Hire: A Road to Success in South East London

Gee at the Driver Hire awards 2011

Coconut Creatives’ client news: Driver Hire franchisee takes success into his own hands

Gee Bains owns Driver Hire’s franchise in South East London. Based in Cannon Wharf, his office is part of a nationwide network of almost 100 offices, specialising in providing recruitment services to the logistics sector. Driver Hire supplies some 3,000 personnel each day, mainly drivers and other logistics staff, to organisations in the public and private sectors.

Gee bought his franchise in May 2010 and is a fast-rising new star at Driver Hire. Recently named the network’s Office of the Month, in only his first full year of trading, Gee is on track for annual sales in excess of £700,000 – close to the Driver Hire average of £735,000. This performance is even more impressive when you consider that it is more than twice the £353,000 average turnover for a franchise in the UK, as revealed by the latest bfa/NatWest industry survey.

So how did Gee, still in his early 30s, come to choose to invest in a franchise, and more specifically in Driver Hire? His background is in IT and he had worked for a leading City law firm for over ten years. However, an entrepreneurial spirit was obviously lurking just below the surface – Gee’s father has his own successful business – and once the decision was made to become self-employed, there was no turning back.

Personal Recommendation
“I’d been looking for an investment opportunity for some time, and in fact had first spoken to Driver Hire a couple of years earlier, but the right opportunity wasn’t available at the time. A good friend of mine, Manjit Singh, is the owner of Driver Hire Enfield and he recommended the business to me. I knew how successful Manjit had become and naturally that appealed to me. Manjit is responsible for his own success of course, but he also explained how valuable being part of a successful franchise had been to him, especially through the recession. The package of support that Driver Hire provides really is second-to-none. It’s a franchise with a 50-strong Head Office team, all dedicated to helping make your business a success.”

Extensive Support Package
Driver Hire is a B2B management franchise, operating in a highly legislation and compliance-led industry. Over the years there has been an enormous investment on the part of the franchisor in ensuring that all of its franchisees have a detailed understanding of the relevant rules and regulations, but also in developing systems, processes and training that make day-to-day operations as uncomplicated as possible. This in turn enables the network to deliver market-leading quality standards.

The extensive package of support includes: administrative functions such as invoicing and payroll; a bespoke IT system which takes care of bookings, candidate and customer records, and helps to ensure legislative compliance; a National Accounts team, which delivers centrally-won business opportunities; a Marketing team providing a steady stream of professional marketing resources; and a dedicated Area Development Manager. Franchisees who follow the system and operate their business effectively can take home 10-12% of turnover and of course, build up significant capital value as their business grows.

Keeping it Simple
“It’s actually quite a simple business,” says Gee. “Recruitment is just bringing people together – finding the best match between people who are looking for work, with other people who need staff. We now also have a thriving additional revenue stream in driver training. What I love about my business is the fact that every day is different. I get a real buzz from helping my customers; sorting out their problems and helping them achieve what they are trying to do. The rewards are excellent too. If you are well organised, with great people skills and have the determination to build your own successful business, you should take a closer look at Driver Hire.”

You can find out more about the Driver Hire franchise opportunity by calling 0844 846 0031. Alternatively, visit or email

A green light for franchisees: 25 Driver Hire territories set new sales records

Driver Hire operatives at a warehouse

Coconut Creatives’ client news: Driver Hire franchisees are excelling despite the economic downturn

According to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, despite the effects of recession, total turnover in the UK recruitment industry is almost £20bn a year, which means Driver Hire’s potential market place is enormous.

Even measured against its own 25-year plus track record, 2010/11 was a good year for Driver Hire. “Our business grew by nearly 23% last year,” says Chris Chidley, Driver Hire’s CEO. “From the perspective of many individual franchisees, the picture looks even better. At our Summer Conference in July 2011, we presented 25 offices with ‘best-ever’ annual sales awards, a remarkable performance.”

Market potential

Driver Hire is one of the UK’s most established franchise networks. This specialist provider of recruitment services has almost 100 offices around the UK and every day of the year supplies over 3,000 personnel, mainly drivers and other logistics staff, to organisations in the public and private sector.

Franchisees like Roy McLellan at Driver Hire Dundee are still seeing strong growth, even in the face of an uncertain UK economy. Turnover in mid-2011 is already 25% up on last year, when the business turned over £1.3m. As Roy explains, the economy actually works in favour of the Driver Hire business model: “It’s all about listening to your customers and delivering a service that responds to their specific needs. Right now, with unpredictable order books and rising fuel costs, they need to find ways of reducing their fixed costs and coping with varying demand. We can talk to them about the flexibility and cost benefits of using temps and our systems and selection processes mean they can be confident of getting the very best staff.”

Driver CPC

Another development in the past year has delivered a new, complementary revenue stream for Driver Hire franchisees. The Driver CPC is a new, compulsory qualification that all HGV drivers must now gain and then maintain with ongoing training. Spotting an opportunity, Driver Hire gained formal accreditation and developed an extensive suite of Driver CPC training modules.

Franchisees attended training courses and most now actively sell training services alongside their traditional recruitment services. The new initiative has been so successful that Driver Hire is now one of the UK’s largest providers of the training, with its franchisees and other trainers having delivered over 55,000 hours of training.

Investment Opportunity

All of this makes Driver Hire an attractive investment opportunity for anyone considering setting up their own business. In the first half of 2011, nine new franchisees have joined the network, in locations as far apart as Inverness and Plymouth.

Could a Driver Hire franchise be right for you? Well, Rowan Pritchard achieved the remarkable feat of becoming Driver Hire Franchisee of the Year in 2010, within just a couple of years of buying his franchise, in Romford. Here’s what he says about his experience:

“Recruitment is a unique business. I hadn’t been involved in it before I came into Driver Hire but the training I received from Head Office helped me enormously. I don’t consider myself to be a natural sales person, but I firmly believe in the Driver Hire brand and so I’m confident going out and promoting it. I then back that up with a personal commitment to deliver what I promise.

“I can honestly say that I love being in this business. If you’re looking for variety and constant challenge this is the place to be. No two days are ever the same. I still get real personal satisfaction from knowing that I’ve helped a customer and at the same time found work for one of my candidates. I’d recommend it to anyone.”

You can find out more about the Driver Hire franchise opportunity by calling 0844 846 0031. Alternatively, visit or email