Part of the family with a Sliderobes franchise
Name: Denis Bowe
Location: Portlaoise & Limerick
Why I chose franchising
I opened my first franchise in 2000 in the Republic of Ireland and what I liked was that I was joining a “family” of businesses. It gave me confidence in what I was doing. I felt that by benchmarking myself against other businesses in similar settings, and by communicating with people who were doing the same things but not competing, that I could improve my business performance.
What I did before taking up a franchise
I had a wholesale manufacturing business in Portlaoise. We made freestanding furniture such as wardrobes, beside cabinets, headboards, etc.
How I raised the finance
I now have four franchises in total. The first was in Portloaise, and I used my own capital to buy that one. When we opened in Limerick I went to the bank. By then, of course, I had a good track record and they were happy to lend.
The same happened when I opened my franchises in Basildon in England, and then later in Cambridge. That track record definitely helped.
The training and support I receive from my franchisor
When I first started, it wasn’t as good as it is now. Sliderobes now provides an excellent training and support package and as the company has grown it has become quite outstanding. Much of that is due to the fact that it’s a two way street. We listen and learn from each other. There’s always something new to learn and we feed back our own experiences.
The challenges I have faced
When I first started out I had no knowledge of computers at all. And looking back, it limited my ability to keep an eye on the business. So it was a steep learning curve for me and I now spend 50 percent of my time in front of a screen. But Sliderobes CRM system has transformed how we run the business, so it is time well spent.
My advice to someone thinking of buying their first franchise
I think that you have to be willing to learn the business inside out. It’s not enough just to understand the manufacturing process, or the people management side. You need to be able to turn your hand to any role required, because sometimes you’ll need to. Being “hands on” is extremely important.
My plans for the future
Having just opened my fourth franchise – this one in Cambridge – I’m going to review things after a year and then see if I might look at further expansion in the UK. That’s the way forward.