How to start a gift cards franchise
A highly flexible business with comparatively small overheads
The greetings card is a very familiar product to most people. If you have never bought one you are definitely in the minority.
To franchisees in the greetings card industry it is seen as a nice, clean product that is easy and pleasant to work with and carry around.
As a business, it is also quick to set up and can be run from home with low overheads. So while you’re unlikely to be paid danger money to start up a franchise like this, greetings card distribution has much to recommend it.
What is it?
Starting out as a greetings card franchisee can be a scary to begin with. You won’t be required to create a range of cute birthday cards or write a witty rhyme for inside but you will have to cold call independent businesses and persuade them to sell your particular range.
On the plus side, though, you will operate on a sale or return basis – so the retailer will only have to give you some of his or her shelf space on trust. And offering something almost for nothing is something most small businesses find hard to resist.
The operation involves providing a range of the franchisors designs in its own rack or carousel. You then leave it with the retailer for an agreed period of time before calling back to hopefully restock and invoice your share of those cards sold.
Of course none of the franchisors will let you just plunge in on your own – there would be little point in buying a franchise if that was the case. Appletree Cottage, Cardline and Colneis Marketing all offer on-site initial training in the locality where you will be selling. This allows you to get to know your area a little through the eyes of a franchisee rather than as a resident.
Most franchisees say they didn’t take long to get into the swing of things, “Going into shops and talking to people was terrifying to start off with,” says Ken Glanville of Colneis in Devon. “After the first week I’d got used to it and was getting a 99% positive response if I caught the owners at the right moment.”
And getting them at the right moment is key. If you don’t there’s not harm in coming back, maintains Jenny Woodruff of Cardline in Poole. “If they say no they’re busy, ask if you can come back later. This is cold calling but it isn’t a hard sell, you’re only asking for space.”
You’ll also learn which type of shops to target. The obvious ones are independent newsagents, convenience stores, post offices and petrol stations. But it also pays to think on a wider scale – anywhere that people will visit day to day is a potential outlet: canteens, sandwich shops, garden centres, hospitals, libraries and so on.
It will be up to you to arrange how often you visit your retailers. Most visit every month or six weeks. If left any longer, retailers will be left without stock to sell and, as you pay upfront to the franchisor for stock, you will be out of pocket.