Jim Harbridge talks to us about why he and his wife Anna chose a Riverford franchise and what his daily life as a Riverford franchisee entails:
It seemed to us that franchising offered a good balance between security of a well established franchise that could support us, and the opportunity to make the business our own’. As Riverford customers for many years, we loved the product and on further inspection we decided that the model seemed to work well and would fit our needs.
I had a history working in marketing and PR whilst my wife, Anna was a probation officer.
We had private investments so were able to use funds from them.
We both attended a full week’s training at Riverford’s head office, based at their farm in Devon. We met with many key staff members who covered everything from marketing, customer service, accounting, general business practices and how to use the internal ordering system. As we purchased a resale franchise, we were lucky enough to be able to spend time with the previous owners, out on delivery rounds and in the office, it was an invaluable addition to the time spent at HO.
I’m not sure there is a typical day really! Initially I was involved in all aspects of the business (driving, packing, marketing, HR, Finance, Credit control, etc) but have managed to scale back the everyday operational tasks so I can concentrate more on marketing, social media, data analysis, logistics etc.
We experienced a variety of challenges, from logistical issues, to severe weather, staff illness and the occasional IT disaster. The biggest for us however, was to build the business from one that was in decline when we took over to one that is now in growth. It’s certainly been challenging and rewarding in equal measure!
Very much so – I hope for the better! There is great satisfaction in knowing that your hard work and creativity can translate into positive and tangible results.
We’ve found that social media (facebook and twitter) has worked well for us at a local level, so too have our newsletters, which offer our customers a more personal service and a glimpse into our lives and involvement with the farm. Various events and shows, where we meet people in person remain the most effective tool in acquiring new customers but our philosophy has been to be open to any number of ideas. Retention methods are also key to promote customer loyalty but the most important thing we have found is to underpin everything with exceptional levels of customer service and communication.
Our ability to combine a fantastic nationwide product, with all the insight and local know-how and personal touches of a small business.
Listening to your customers, not being afraid to consider new ideas and remembering that you get out of a business what you put in.
Decide how you want this to work for you – do you want it for the lifestyle or the profit? Make sure you believe in your product – that makes it a lot easier to sell!
To build our business up to its full potential. Hopefully there will be an opportunity to expand our territory. We would love to see where we are after ten years.
Even in the toughest of times I don’t think I have honestly ever regretted taking it on – so I suppose that is a ‘yes’!
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Riverford franchisees have a level of independence that means we feel supported and not restricted.Liz Sowden, Dorking & Horsham Home delivery
Even during the toughest of times I don’t think I have honestly ever regretted taking on my Riverford Franchise.Jim Harbridge, Portsmouth Home Delivery
It feels good to be investing in a company that has such a strong code of ethics and isn’t all about making more money.Jo & Phil Limb, North Devon Home Delivery