Ryan Cutler, our youngest franchisee shares his 25th birthday with OPC

01 Apr 2016

When Ryan first started working, he always had it in the back of his mind that he wanted to have his own business, a venture that he could make something of one day and be proud of. For him, the franchise route seemed like the best option as the business model was already in place. He shares his journey with OPC so far.

“I chose the OPC franchise as the greetings card market is still very strong and growing each year. OPC had been around for a long time and that proved to me that they had a strong business model that worked and would give me the foundation to be successful.

Before I took on my franchise I worked for a telecommunications company where I worked in sales, managing accounts and providing companies in the broadcasting, military and government industries with standard and bespoke communication systems.

When it came time to raise the funds to purchase my initial franchise, Bournemouth, I approached the Royal Bank of Scotland with my business plan and I applied for the funds through the enterprise finance guarantee loan which is backed by the government, the process was very simple and the support from RBS has been second to none since.

I had my initial training at the OPC head office where there was both theoretical and practical training on the role of the franchisee. After the initial training, my Business Development Manager (BDM), physically helped me set up my business and thereafter accompanied me on my calls to customers providing support, until I was confident enough to continue alone. This support continues to this day and there’s a great team at the OPC head office always happy to help.

A typical day for me would be getting up early enough to ensure I can be at my first call at 8.30, to ensure I can complete my journey plan of about 6-8 visits for the day. Once I get back home after finishing my last call, I would then unload any stock collected from the day into my stockroom and prep myself for the next day with a new journey plan and the stock to merchandise the stores. No two days are the same though, there's always something new happening at the stores or on the road that keep the days interesting.

On a day to day basis you come across a variety of different challenges that tend to alter your daily plans. Sometimes, I’ll be looking for opportunities to increase the space in my existing stores or I’ll be talking to customers about business performance and seeing if they have any referrals through their contacts in local stores and it ends up with having to fit in a call to a prospect or even an installation.

Other challenges can be the space constraints in modern convenience stores and occasionally I’ll have competitors who are constantly trying to take over space which I have agreed with the customer.

Becoming a franchisee has changed my life. It has probably been and still is one of the biggest challenges I have ever taken on in my life. A lot people my age wouldn't want to take on a franchise as it comes with a lot of responsibility, self-discipline and hard work.

In my last job I had to be at work for 8:30 and leave at 5:30. When I left work it stayed at the office but now work is always with me. I have to manage my own administration, VAT and debtors as well as sales reports and the main purpose of my job, keeping my customers happy. I've had to grow up quickly and be a lot more organised with a plan for the present and future. Having your own business is a fast paced affair that constantly changes but if you work hard and get it right you will reap the rewards.

My BDM is always there to guide me and OPC provides us with all sorts of things to help us in the franchise like brochures that detail the product ranges and display solutions we provide. OPC also provide me with display equipment, display plans, and a complete range of point of sale material including branded header boards, caption-flags and price cards.

To me, OPC stands apart from the competition with extremely high quality product at very affordable prices. The ranges we supply have been thoroughly researched to ensure that they follow current trends in the market and most importantly satisfying the needs of our customers. OPC continually provides me with information of what is happening in our market and which products are performing well.

I think, in order to make your franchise successful you need to be dedicated to the goals you want to achieve. You need to work hard, be positive and motivated to make your franchise grow. To me organisation and planning are key to making sure that both the daily operations and the back office operations run smoothly and the sooner you get those two things in order the easier everything else becomes.

I find that a lot of people who want to buy a franchise are more attracted to the time flexibility you get than with actually growing the business.

If that is what attracts you then maybe a Franchise is not for you as franchises are not get rich quick schemes, a Franchise is a proven business which allows you to become part of a successful team with years of experience but still your success is dependent on your input.

When you are considering buying a franchise make sure you research the company you are interested in thoroughly, having a strong business model is a must and having good support helps you tackle the everyday challenges you will face. It’s for these reasons I wanted to buy an OPC franchise, the business model is proven and the support provided is by far the best I have had the pleasure to work with.

I recently took over the Salisbury territory after having owned the Bournemouth patch since 2014. My short term plans are to continue improving the current stores in my network by introducing new ranges and freshening up the displays to help improve sales. My long term goals are to expand my customer base in both areas and continue growing.

Would I do it again? Yes! I think it is a very good experience and really pushes you to the limits as you face challenges each day, but you know that there is always support and assistance for whatever situation may arise. Having a franchise has given me the opportunity to achieve my dreams and make them a reality.”

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