OSCAR is a nationwide pet food home delivery business which has been manufacturing a range of quality pet food since 1990. The first franchise was established in 1993 and the franchise network has continued to grow with great success culminating in OSCAR receiving two nominations in this year’s British Franchise Association (BFA) awards.
We spoke to Simon Bartholomew, Franchise Director at OSCAR, about the good news regarding the award nominations. We also discussed how the achievements both reflect the existing success of the OSCAR franchise opportunity, but also provide further positivity for prospective franchisees considering starting their own business with an OSCAR franchise.
Simon’s role means he is responsible for training and supporting new franchisees, though he is keen to emphasise that with over 25 years, the whole support team ensures that every franchisee gets thorough training and support from the whole OSCAR team. He says “The management team are very passionate about franchising and making OSCAR the best franchise it can be. Our definition of a successful franchisee is someone who is achieving their goals and working hard. Whether that is fast growth or slower growth, we are keen to support franchisees to help them achieve their goals.”
Simon continues “There is a large team of support staff including direct field-based franchisee support staff as well as office support staff, but also others covering everything from purchasing to product development, and customer helplines. We work continually to improve the business system and we work very closely with franchisees, sharing ideas and testing new aspects of the business system before rolling it out to the wider network. That is one benefit of a mature franchise.”
The awards that OSCAR have been nominated for are illustrative of their commitment to franchisees, and the progress and development of their franchise network, products, services and support for both franchisees and customers as Simon explains “We are very proud to be the only franchise represented in two different categories in this year’s BFA awards having been nominated as a finalist for both the British Franchise Association ‘Brand Awareness and Innovation’ award as well as the ‘Franchisor of the year’ award.
We believe that the judges have seen our willingness to invest in new products, technology and service levels to enable our franchisees to have everything they need to grow turnover and profit. We have seen a big increase in online sales and so empowering our franchisees to have both the technology and training to compete successfully in this wider marketplace.
An example of this is through our training provision, where franchisees are now trained to a similar level to veterinary nurses in animal nutrition so they can advise customers in the best possible manner and help ensure their pets are getting the best food and products available.”
Having grown over the past 26 years and now a mature franchise network, new franchisees get a considerable advantage of immense franchisor and franchisee experience when starting a new OSCAR franchise.
Understandably, whilst the opportunities for brand new ‘virgin’ franchise territories become more limited as any franchise business develops, so today many new franchisees join the OSCAR family by purchasing a franchise resale, knowing that the brand will already be recognised on both a local and national basis much more than a new-to-market franchise.
A franchise resale occurs when a franchisee chooses to exit the business, and has created a client base of customers that the new franchisee, once trained and with significant support ongoing, can continue to service whilst expanding further in accordance with their business goals.
It’s important to understand that whilst there is so much focus on starting a business, it’s easy to overlook existing a business too. Simon explains “Many of our franchisees historically have tended to be of a fairly mature age when they started the business so they may join with perhaps a ten-year objective in mind.
On the other hand we have a franchisee celebrating 21 years in their business this year but of course as people progress with their business and their life changes accordingly, the time will come where they want to realise the capital that they have created and so they can sell their business and retire. These can sell for up to or over £100,000 subject to the size of the client base and the status of the business.”
He adds “In terms of the types of people who become franchisees, often they may have left previous corporate roles and are seeking a business that gives them a better work/life balance, which is something that OSCAR can offer. It is also a business that fits well with family members, so we have many husband and wife teams or other family partnerships for example. Often the business may be started by one partner, with the other joining them in the business once it has been developed and can support another staff member.”
We are starting to see an increase in younger franchisees too” adds Simon “Often they tend to have a greater objective to grow larger businesses, and this is something we are keen to support. Whilst a typical franchise territory tends to have around 50,000 households per territory when a franchisee starts their business, if they grew successfully we do provide them with the opportunity to extend their territory size without further investment.”
We are delighted to have developed a network with a good blend of franchisees who each have different objectives for success. We are keen to work hard with all franchisees who are prepared to work hard themselves in order to reach their goals. We are seeking to continue to grow the network further over the next ten years, as there remains a massive opportunity in this business sector, and our commitment to development and innovation ensures that we can remain at the forefront of our market providing the best service to our customers through our network of franchised business owners”
As with all good businesses, OSCAR has its own goals for different stages of progression, and franchising remains very much at the centre of the network’s future. Simon explains “We continue to seek prospective franchisees who would like to be part of the OSCAR family, sharing our values of hard work, whilst engaging with the franchisor and their fellow franchisees, and with a willingness to learn and progress. Starting a business alone is so hard but with OSCAR we all work together to achieve our individual and shared objectives and for this reason we are always extremely open with all people exploring our franchise opportunity.
Over the next ten years or so we will continue to seek to select around a dozen new franchisees each year to both maintain the existing network and grow where opportunities allow. There is massive scope for success for everyone involved with OSCAR and empowering our franchisees to achieve their goals is core in our plans. It’s vitally important that we select our franchise partners carefully, and that the process of selecting and investing in buying a franchise is very much a two-way process of exploration and suitability on the part of both the franchisee and franchisor”.
Simon concludes “I always like to advise people to ensure that they find a franchisor to partner with that they like and get on well with. You will be working together for perhaps ten to twenty years so it’s fundamental that there is a good match in the first place. I also think it is important that you should consider BFA membership as a significant feature when comparing franchisors, since a prospective franchisee knows that a full BFA member has undergone significant scrutiny to obtain and maintain this membership level”.
With an OSCAR franchise you simply need a van to operate the business and ideally a garage to store your products, before delivering directly to your customers.
Franchising gives you the opportunity to run your own business with the flexibility and choice to create a better work-life balance.