In the first of a three-part series, Joga Uppal talks about how and why he and his brother Aman decided to join One Stop, and the benefits that franchising has brought to their business.
Prior to joining One Stop
The business my brother Aman and I run with our mum was started by my dad in 1993 in the Mount Nod area of Coventry. Until late in 2015 we had a Londis fascia and had been happy trading as part of that symbol group for more than 20 years.
When we started to plan for a new store back in 2012 we needed to discover how supplier support for independent convenience stores had changed during the past two decades, what support would we need, and who was likely to be the best at delivering this.
Fortunately, my dad had made a good number of friends in the trade, so with our support he asked retailers like Sunder Sandher at Leamington Spa about why they had changed their fascia. We discovered some suppliers were now not only providing products at a good price with a strong promotional programme to support sales growth, but were providing efficient store process systems and guidance as well.
Why we chose to join One Stop
At the start of 2015 when we had all the issues regarding the building of our new store sorted out and a builder booked to construct it, we invited several wholesalers to come and make a pitch for the new business. The first person to respond to us was John Miller, the One Stop operations director, and he arranged to visit the next day.
We had previously met John when he worked for Musgrave UK Retail Partners and the story that he told us about the One Stop franchise caught our attention immediately. Our ‘shopping list’ included:
- A strong range that would be tailored to our customers, delivering a good gross profit.
- An attention grabbing promotional programme.
- An easy to use scanning system.
- A quality store development support programme.
- A simple to apply management system that would make the transition to a bigger store and beyond easier.
John said that One Stop could deliver all of this and more, including a £50,000 investment into the fitting-out of the store. Following this initial visit we wanted to get Sunder Sandher’s view of how he was finding life as a One Stop franchisee, so we went to meet him in his store.
Sunder explained how One Stop worked with him to streamline his business, making it much simpler to delegate necessary tasks. The only issue he faced was that his previous model had some elements that he missed when the One Stop EPoS was installed.
We were sceptical of the franchise concept because it was relatively new to the market. However, it was our confidence in both John and Sunder that convinced my dad into signing a five-year contract with One Stop. After all, my dad had been a member of Londis for a long time.
Deciding what was right for our business
By August 2015 with the building of the new store under way, we started our serious talks with One Stop about how our big change was going to happen. It wasn’t just the much bigger store that was changing; we were going to install EPoS for the first time. We were now moving from ordering by sight and price labelling, to becoming 21st century retailers. This was a key point for us.
“The investment of £50,000 in the store for the fit-out is not a small chunk of change, one needs to look at every advantage you can get.”
While we were certainly taking a good look at One Stop as our potential new partner, it was also clear that they were studying us to decide if we were a suitable addition to their group. They were considering our businesses potential and analysing us as much as we were them. From a collaborative point, reliability is what you want as a retailer, and that is one of the key differences we have found with One Stop.
Some retailers may see signing a franchise contract as giving up their independence, but we were happy to make sacrifices to develop a better business. A year on we still feel that we are independent retailers, but are now working to different parameters and the return we are achieving is proving worthwhile. Although One Stop does require their retailers meet a high level of compliance, there is great support from them to make this happen.
In part 2, Joga explains how he uses the One Stop formula to work for his business and discusses his journey to successfully launching his new store.